Previous names

  • 1920 - 1923 Pampa III
  • 1923 - 1930 Doris
  • 1930 - 1935 Grey Mist
  • 1935 - 1936 Cupid
  • 1936 - 2002 Glala
  • 2002 - 2008 Mahalia
Certificate no 1998
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Leisure Craft
Subfunction Yacht
Location Ipswich
Vessel type Motor Yacht
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No
Web address


Builder Luke, A R & Sons, Hamble
Built in 1915
Hull material
Rig None
Number of decks 2
Number of masts 0
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.46 feet (3.80 m)
4.92 feet (1.50 m)
Length: Overall
78.00 feet (23.79 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



GLALA was built for the wealthy Argentinian diplomat Aaron de Anchorena by A.R. Luke & Co in Hamble. She was scheduled to be launched in 1914 as Pampa III, but it would appear that Anchorena abandoned the project before she was completed and she was actually launched in 1915 as Doris under different ownership. In many ways she resembles the steam yachts of the era, in shape and layout but she never actually had steam, initially she was powered by a pair of Thornycroft paraffin engines. Her hull is partly of composite.

By 1921 she was owned by Thomas William Simpson who lived in Poole and by this time, her name had been changed twice; to Doris and then to Grey Mist. In 1922 she was back at Camper & Nicholsons and was actually owned by them. Between 1923 and 1928 she was owned by H.H. Maclean and her name reverted to the original Doris. In 1929 she was owned by W.E Wilson, renamed Grey Mist (again!) and by 1930 she was registered to W.G Verdon-Smith CBE, later to be Sir William, chairman of the Bristol Aerospace Company. Around 1931 her hull was clad in copper by Hillyards of Littlehampton.

She was briefly owned by Philip Shepherd in 1934 and then in 1935 she was bought by the millionaire brewer Lord Brocket of Mallaig who named her Cupid and kept her on the West Coast of Scotland for a couple of seasons. In 1936 the aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham decided that he should have a boat and, having been told that the best boats were to be found in Scotland, he sent his wife, Gladys Lloyd, there to find one. She found Cupid lying at Greenock and she was bought for £900. Sir Alan combined his wife’s name with his own and named the boat GLALA.

In 1938 GLALA was sold to the engineering company AEC who replaced her original paraffin engines with two of their oil engines and added a funnel. They planned to use her to demonstrate their marine engines and to train Port of London Authority employees on the Thames, but their plans had to be put aside as Britain went to war. The Admiralty requisitioned GLALA and just two months into the Second World War, in October 1939, she became a Harbour Defence Patrol Yacht, equipped with depth charges and stationed at Sheerness. From here she would have been patrolling the Thames Estuary and the River Medway.

GLALA set for Dunkirk under the command of Sub-Lieutenant John Alexander Dow on 31 May 1940 in company with the yachts Amulree and Caleta. She arrived at 1130 and towed two whalers full of solders to the requisitioned paddle steamer HMS Golden Eagle. She then sailed further up the coast and at La Panne GLALA towed boats for the destroyers HMS Venomous and HMS Vivacious. Both destroyers were damaged in an air raid, GLALA reported a new miss. She was ordered to return to Ramsgate for repairs and from there she proceed to Sheerness. Repairs completed, she then return to Ramsgate arriving on 2 June, leaving for Dunkirk immediately. Early in the morning of 3 June her port engine failed and she was compelled to return to Sheerness.

In June 1941 GLALA retired from the Navy and became a hospital tender in Belfast with a civilian crew. In May 1943 her status changed from requisitioned to compulsorily acquired. In July 1943 she was sailed to Glasson Dock, Lancashire for maintenance work. In October 1943 she joined the National Fire Service and was one of 23 fireboats in NFS District 26, likely to have been based at Gladstone Dock in Liverpool. Photographs show her damaged by a gas explosion around the end of the Second World War and was then put up for sale on 30 April 1946. The entry in the 1947 edition of Lloyd’s Register of Yachts includes a note that she had new decks made of Kauri Pine, so she must have been rebuilt while still in government ownership. Photographs taken a few years later show that the accommodation aft had been rebuilt, the funnel had been shortened and there was an unusual companionway hatch on the afterdeck.

By 1948 she was owned by Roy Baker and then by 1952, by his wife Margaret Baker. According to her daughter, GLALA was kept on the Thames at Richmond at this time. She also appears to have been at Hoo on the River Medway for a time around 1952. Her longest period of continuous ownership was between 1962 to 1978 when she was owned by R. F. Stuttle and based at Southampton on the River Hamble. In the summers she was in the Mediterranean, cruising the Italian Riviera. From around 1979 she was based on the River Itchen, Southampton and over the years the accommodation aft was rebuilt and a new main deck was laid. In 1985 the ageing AEC engines were replaced with a pair of more powerful and modern Gardner 6LXBs and she took part in a commemoration return to Dunkirk. Between 1988 and 1990 she was extensively restored by Paul Nachman.

In the 1990s she was based in Brighton and in 2003 she was renamed Mahalia. In 2005 she was bought by Thomas Hodge who took her to Ipswich and for a time lived on board. She was also seaworthy enough to take part in a return to Dunkirk again. By the mid 2000s she was in poor condition again; there was rot in much of her superstructure, the engine cylinders were cracked and she was leaking around the stern. Since 2008 she has been out of the water and, with the help of wooden boat specialist Laurence Hebson, is undergoing a major rebuild. The plan is to conserve the original as much as possible and, where the original is too damaged, to rebuild in a researched, traditional way. Where possible, materials are being salvaged from other vessels, the decks for example, are being built using teak from the scrapped liner SS OLYMPIA.

Key dates

  • 1915

    Vessel launched as DORIS, built by A R Luke & Sons, Hamble

  • 1920

    Modernised by Camper & Nicholsons

  • c 1930

    Hull clad in copper and bilge keels added to improve stability

  • 1938

    Having been renamed GLALA, vessel was sold to engineering company AEC who installed a pair of their own engines and added a funnel

  • 1939

    Requisitioned to become a Harbour Defence Patrol Yacht stationed at Sheerness

  • 1941

    Vessel became a hospital tender in Belfast with a civilian crew

  • 1943

    Joined the National Fire Service as one of 23 fireboats in Fire Force 26 (Liverpool)

  • 1947

    Following severe damage from a gas explosion at the end of the war, she was sold off

  • 2008

    Taken out of the water to undergo a major rebuild


  • July 2020

    A Sustainability Grant of £1000 towards the cost of remedial work was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK

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