Brixham Trawler built 1892 by Gibb, A W, Galmpton

Ensign House flag


National Historic Fleet

Fishing Vessel


Brixham Trawler


Commercial Activity

Commercial trade





Web site









To be confirmed

18.98 feet (5.79 metres)

105.00 feet (24.08 metres)

10.59 feet (3.23 metres)



LEADER at 105 feet and 110 tonnes is the largest and oldest of the four boats owned by Trinity Sailing.  She was built in 1892 at A. W. Gibbs’ yard at Galmpton.  She fished in UK waters until 1907, when she was sold to Swedish owners.  She operated on Sweden’s west coast until 1970, when she became a sail training vessel for the Swedish Cruising Club.  In 1985 she moved to the west coast of Scotland where, as LORNE LEADER, she was used for sailing holidays and charter for ten years.  In 1996 she was brought home to South Devon and operated from Dartmouth until 1999, when she became part of the Trinity fleet, and returned to Brixham.

Struan Cooper, Classic Boat (May, 1998, pp20-6) Leader Homeward Bound
Classic Boat (August, 1996) Leader, one of the last Brixham trawlers.....
Classic Boat (April, 2012, pp84) Brixham - New deck for Leader
Jo Clegg, Classic Boat (March, 2000, pp34-39) Holidays on the hire seas
Daphne Morgan Barnicoat and Peter Rolt, Classic Boat (June, 2004, pp46) Brixham trawling for Funding
Jo Clegg, Classic Boat (August, 1999) T boned at Brixham


What is the vessel’s ability to demonstrate history in her physical fabric?

LEADER (NRHV Registration Number 604) is a rare survivor of the type of fishing vessels known as Brixham trawlers which, although of West Country origin, became the mainstay of the British fishing fleet, with many thousands in operation by the end of the nineteenth century. LEADER was built on the R. Dart in 1892 by AW Gibb of Galmpton during the heyday of the British fishing industry and represents the largest and most powerful form of this type of trawler. This particular vessel has undergone many changes over the years although she continued to operate under sail until 1952. However, despite adaptations below decks to allow for cruising accommodation, and developments to the rig and working gear necessary to meet current safety legislation, she still exhibits the hull form and rig of the craft when first built and is sailed without modern mechanical aids. She therefore provides for those sailing her experiences which reflect those of the crews which manned her when she was a working vessel. These vessels were so successful that despite the challenge from steam power, the type remained in construction into the late 1920s and in operation under sail up to the 2nd World war. In LEADER's case, she fished in British waters until 1917, when she was sold abroad, to return to the United Kingdom as a pleasure vessel in 1985.

What are the vessel’s associational links for which there is no physical evidence?

Brixham trawlers, which developed a variety of forms, became ubiquitous throughout British waters because of the efficiency and effectiveness of their design. The numbers and sub-types of this design are amply reflected in contemporary photographs of ports along the South West coast, East Anglia, the North East, Liverpool Bay, and the Irish coast. Records show that some Devon boatbuilders settled permanently outside their home ports to carry out their trade, and in time local craftsmen built fishing vessels to the Brixham design. Today only 9 Brixham trawlers are known to National Historic Ships and registered on the NRHV, of which LEADER is the largest.

How does the vessel’s shape or form combine and contribute to her function?

Brixham trawlers combine fine lines for speed, with extensive but controllable sail plans which allow for large areas of canvas to be set and handled by a relatively small crew. LEADER has retained these characteristics throughout her rebuilds and is therefore able to demonstrate her original shape and overall form. Given the number and spread of this type of vessel throughout UK waters, LEADER's continued existence and operation under sail (though no longer fishing) is of national as well as regional significance.

Source: Martyn Heighton, Director, National Historic Ships, October 2010.

Previous names

  1. 1892 – 1985Leader
  2. 1985 – 1997Lorne Leader

Subsequent Developments

  1. June 2011 Visited by National Historic Ships on the 27th May. Vessl is very good condition and continues to offer adventure and sail training to the public, including youth and disadvantaged groups. Source: Paul Brown on behalf of National Historic Ships
  2. 6 September 2011 Sixteen sailors had to be rescued from LEADER after its mast snapped in two in near-gale for winds off the south coast. The vessel was off the coast of Portland Bill, Dorset, when it was caught up in 40mph gusts. None of the sailors were injured in the incident. Source: The Daily Mail newspaper, 7 September 2011
  3. April 2012 Work to re-deck LEADER was finished late February. It also involved deck beams, beamshelf, bulwarks and stanchions, and was carried out by boatbuilder Bob Cann and team with LEADER afloat in the inner harbour. Her sheerline was restored at the same time: use of bottlescrews rather than deadeyes has caused deterioration around the chainplates. The Trinity Sailint Trust hope to have her ready for this year's Brixham Sailing Week, starting 26 May. Source: Classic Boat Magazine, April 2012
  4. May 2012 New mast has been fitted - the Top Mast is from a Canadian forest and is her previous one. Source: Trinity Sailing Foundation, May 2012

Key dates

  1. 1892 Vessel built by A. W. Gibb in Galmpton, Devon
  2. 1892-1907 Operated as a fishing vessel in UK waters
  3. 1907 Sold to Swedish owners and operated on Sweden’s west coast
  4. 1970 Became a sail training vessel for the Swedish Cruising Club
  5. 1985 Returned to the UK, first to west coast of Scotland and named LORNE LEADER.  Used as a charter vessel
  6. 1996 Brought to South Devon, operating from Dartmouth
  7. 1999 Vessel became part of the Trinity Sailing fleet, returning to Brixham
  8. 2011 Powerful westerly winds snapped vessel’s wooden mast in half when sailing from Dartmouth to Weymouth as part of a training trip
  9. 2011 £170,400 awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the restoration of the main weatherdeck
  10. 2012 Awarded a grant of £1000 for remedial work by National Historic Ships UK


  1. 1996 Classic Boat Leader, one of the last Brixham trawlers.....
  2. 1998 Classic Boat Leader Homeward Bound
  3. 1999 Classic Boat T boned at Brixham
  4. 2000 Classic Boat Holidays on the hire seas - Ian Dear
  5. 2004 Classic Boat Brixham trawling for Funding
  6. 2012 Classic Boat Brixham - New deck for Leader


  1. February 2011 £15,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been awarded to support a major restoration project. Source: The Plymouth Herald, Feb 2011
  2. 14 October 2011 The Trinity Sailing Foundation is celebrating an award of £170,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the restoration of LEADER Restoration of the main weatherdeck and supporting structures is the centrepiece of the project
  3. 2012 A Sustainability Grant of £1000 for remedial work was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

hawse eye:

tubular metal fitting in the bows of a vessel through which the anchor cable passes