Boatbuilder Mark Rolt of Bristol Classic Boat Company has written to say that the 1885-built 60ft classic yacht Mary, ex-Vanity, is in urgent need of re-housing and restoration – for otherwise she is certain to be cut up within the next few weeks. The photos above show her in her heyday.
She is one of three similar yachts remaining, the other two of which are Partridge, and Marigold, both of which have been restored and are racing in the Mediterranean. It’s Mark’s firm hope that someone will feel it is time to rescue this astonishing boat from certain destruction.
She was built as Mary at William Black’s in Southampton, Dan Hatcher’s old yard, in 1885 and 1886, for Sir William Romilly, who was later Attorney General, who gave it as a 21st birthday present to his son John Gaspard le Marchant Romilly, (who was usually called Cosmo). She cost 1300 guineas.
Built to Lloyds A1 100 18+ spec, the highest possible at that time, her timber was seasoned for at least 18 years.
She was coppered and was pitch pine below the water and teak above on doubled 4×4 oak frames. She raced very successfully under the Class C category, but the rules were changed in, I think, 1892, at which point she became a cruising yacht.
At present she is in a derelict hauling yard, next door to Mark’s boatyard, where she has been since about 1989, when she was sold at auction by Sotherby’s, and delivered from Canvey Island to Bristol for storage, while the owner decided what to do. He then sold it to my colleague and friend, the late Brian Cumby, who then offered her to Mark.
Mark says that she will need a major rebuild. He’s proposing to sell her for a penny to anyone willing to have us restore her, and reckons that bringing her back to her former glory would cost in the region of £1,250,000-1,500,000.
He believes passionately in preserving boats of this kind and is very, very keen to have the opportunity, not only to restore Mary
but also to train apprentices in the craft of shipwrighting through dismantling and restoring the magnificent old boat. As he says, everyone involved, young and old, can learn old tricks and methods, some of which may have died with the shipwright who performed them.
As Mark says, please forward this post on to any one that you know who may be fired-up by the idea of owning and sailing one of Britain’s first class Victorian yachts, privately or corporately.