Severn Trow built 1894 by Hurd, William, Chepstow

Designated ensign Designated house flag



Cargo Vessel

Severn Trow


Museum: dry berth

Museum: dry berth





Web site









To be confirmed

18.25 feet (5.57 metres)

71.50 feet (21.81 metres)

4.50 feet (1.37 metres)



The only surviving complete Severn trow, SPRY was built by William Hurd, Chepstow, in 1894 to trade in the Bristol Channel, and was registered at Gloucester on 25 October of that year. Her first owner was William Davis, a Chepstow stone merchant and she usually carried coal or stone as her freight. She is believed to have shared loads with BESSIE ELLEN (q.v.) in and around the Bristol Channel and west coast.

She was originally sloop rigged, with a jib, staysail, topsail and gaff main and this rig has now been restored. Her mast was almost certainly fixed because, unlike many Severn trows, she did not trade up river, which would have necessitated lowering the mast for bridges. In 1913 she was altered to a ketch rig, with a small mizzen mast, and probably at the same time her tiller steering was replaced by a wheel. In 1920 her hull was deepened. In about 1936 she was converted into a dumb barge and during the 1950s and 1960s she was used in the docks at Diglis basin, Worcester, where she later became derelict until acquired by the Upper Severn Navigation Trust in 1983 in partnership with the Severn Trow Preservation Society and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

She was moved on a road trailer on 26 March 1983, from Diglis basin to Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, where she was completely rebuilt at Blists Hill. With the hull jacked up into shape (to correct the sagging) and supported in cradles, the inner planks were removed; then the old frames were removed and replaced two at a time, whilst the old outer planking acted as a mould - to which the new frames were temporarily fastened. Then the two top outer and inner planks were replaced, and the vessel was suspended from the top planks (whilst still sitting on the keel) before the bilge stringers, planking and strakes, and the bilge keels, could be replaced; the original keel was pulled out and replaced, and then the rest of the hull was planked up. Her new frames are double sawn oak, the carvel planking is larch, and the decks and spars are of Douglas fir.

This rebuild was finished in 1992, and Spry was placed on a lowloader and taken to Bristol for the International Festival of the Sea in 1996, where she sailed again for the first time in sixty years. Afterwards she sailed to Gloucester to be displayed at the National Waterways Museum before returning to the Blists Hill site of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Madeley, near Telford. There she is displayed under cover in a dry berth.

Source: Paul Brown, Historic Sail, The History Press.

Subsequent Developments

  1. July 2015 New buildings have been opened to the public at Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge, housing the historic vessels SPRY, the Ice Breaker MIDDLEWICH and the last surviving tub boat.  The buildings are designed to protect these important vessels and a new interpretation scheme will help visitors to better understand the role they played in the Industrial Revolution


  1. unknown The Rebuilding of the Severn Trow Spry - C.S. Johnson
  2. unknown Spry Sails Again - C.S. Johnson
  3. 1978 Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums - Sullivan, Dick
  4. 1993 International Register of Historic Ships - Brouwer, Norman J
  5. 1996 Classic Boat Spry: High and Dry
  6. 1997 Yachting Monthly Spry for her age


  1. 1984 The National Heritage Memorial Fund awarded £40,000 for restoration works
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk


a rope, chain or iron collar which attaches the yard to the mast but which allows vertical movement