On 1st March Stirling and Son Ltd acquired the lease for the No 1 covered slip at South Yard, Devonport, Plymouth.
Sited adjacent to the dockyard wall, Slip No 1 is the oldest remaining covered slipway in any royal dockyard in the world, and dates from around 1763 – 250 years ago this year. The roof was added in around 1814.
The slipway is 53m (173ft) long and the roof is supported by a double line of 23 trussed wooden pillars. At the north end, the roof is apsidal in shape in order to accommodate the bowsprits of larger craft.
By the water just outside the slip is the famous statue of King Billy – actually ship’s figurehead from the warship Royal William. King William IV reigned from 1830-7 – read about the statue here.
Although the slipway was re-laid in 1914 it has undergone few alterations and is still used as was originally intended – and is now a scheduled ancient monument, which means that it has the same protected status as Stonehenge.
As it turns out, Will Stirling has a family connection to Slip No 1: his great, great, great, great grandmother, Eliza Barlow, launched Nelson’s flagship, the Foudroyant (80 guns) on this slip in 1798. Admiral Sir Robert Barlow was an Admiral in Nelson’s navy and his and Eliza’s daughter, Hilaire, married Nelson’s brother William Nelson.
An unusual condition of the lease is that only traditional wooden boatbuilding and repair must be undertaken – which I gather seems a rather wonderful rule to the Stirling and Son folks.
There are lots of plans for upgrading the slip to provide a fantastic deep water boatyard facility including re-installing a winch and cradles, repairing the double slip rails and reinstating the dockside cranes.
Yacht repair work has already started: three yachts have arrive on the slip so far; Pierette an 1899 Fife, Alert Will’s first build of his own design, and Integrity which will remain at the top of the slip until she is sold through Sandeman Yacht Company of Poole.
Stirlings collect the Classic Boat Best New Build Award
On the 7th March Will and Sara drove to London for the Classic Boat Awards party in Mayfair, where Griff Rhys Jones presented them with their award for Best New Build Over 40ft for Integrity, voted for by readers
This is the 3rd award they have received for Integrity, and is in addition to one for Alert and one for Stirling and Son’s 14ft sailing dinghy.
Overall, the Stirlings’ display case now contains:
- Integrity Voted Best New Build Over 40′ Classic Boat Awards 2013
- Integrity Voted People’s Choice Plymouth Classics 2012
- Integrity Awarded Best Traditionally Built Craft Plymouth Classics 2012
- 14ft Sailing Dinghy Voted Best Dinghy Plymouth Classics 2012
- Alert Awarded for Exceptional Research and Boatbuilding SWMHS 2009