Stirling and Son move into a new yard at Devonport, while Victorian racing yacht Integrity adds to its collection of awards

Alert & Integrity on the slip

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

Contact Stirling and Son via its website or follow the company’s Facebook page.

Integrity & Alert on the slip King Billy at the entrace to the slip No. 1 Covered Slipway, Devonport

Integrity sailing Integrity Pierette 1899 Fife

Sara & Will receiving award from Griff Rhys Jones

Two new Marcus Lewis Fowey River dinghies launched



Fowey-based traditional boat builder Marcus Lewis sent over this clutch of photos of two new Fowey River dinghies that he built over the winter, and which were launched over the last couple of weeks

FR 63 Kittiwake and FR 64 May both had their maiden voyages on the River Fowey and will be kept and raced locally; Marcus comments that the sails owners specify for these boats seem to get more colourful with every new boat!

The launch of Kittiwake was accompanied by a dolphin swimming in the river – although I gather Marcus had quite some difficulty grabbing a shot to prove it.

Marcus is busy scraping, sanding, painting, varnishing and launching Troy Class Yachts and other dinghies for the season at the moment, but is looking forward to starting restoration work on a 1938 Uffa King National 12 that is about to arrive in his workshop.

I’ll post photos about the new project as soon as I have them, together with some historical information about the boats.

Two Witches on show at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Andy Wyke and Dorset crab and lobster boats Witch of Worbarrow and Witch of Weymouth Andy Wyke and Dorset crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth

Boat Collection Manager, Andy Wyke with Witch of Worbarrow (front) and Witch of Weymouth (back). Boat Collection Manager, Andy Wyke with Witch of Weymouth.

Boat builder Ian Baird’s Witch of Weymouth replica of a Dorset crab and lobster boat is now on show at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, together with the 100-year old original on which she’s based.

Witch of Worbarrow was built in 1902, and was used for catching lobsters and crabs up to six miles out to sea in Worbarrow Bay, near Weymouth. She is believed to be the only boat of her type still surviving, but after so many years of use is now too frail to put on the water.

While as a student at the Lyme Regis-based Boat Building Academy, Ian decided to build a replica of Witch of Worbarrow and so built Witch of Weymouth. The result is a traditional clinker built boat, with larch planks laid over oak frames.

Naturally, the new Witch is now the only boat of her kind still in use.

‘It would be impossible to recreate over 100 years of modification and wear and tear that her older sister has endured,’ says museum boat collection manager Andy Wyke. ‘Ian, however, took great pains to accurately copy the lines of the old boat and the final result is a beautiful representation.’

The two Witches will be on display together NMMC until end of December 2011.