Certificate no 2129
Status Registered


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Dredger
Location Brightlingsea
Vessel type Essex Smack
Current use Private use
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Unknown
Built in 1830
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Cutter
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.50 feet (3.81 m)
6.50 feet (1.98 m)
Length: Overall
46.00 feet (14.03 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


One of the oldest smacks afloat, WILLIAM AND EMILY is believed to have been built in the Channel Isles in the 1830s as a cargo vessel for the Essex import-export business. In the 19th century Jersey’s main source of export income was early market garden produce for the luxury markets of southern England. The cargoes would probably have included potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, salad and early flowers. (An alternative account, by Robert Simper, has it that WILLIAM AND EMILY was built in the Channel Isles as a smack, and was used by Essex owners to dredge oysters off the French coast from the port of Gorey, Jersey; in fact both accounts may have some truth as smacks working off Jersey sometimes also carried  farm produce in the summer).

In 1886 WILLIAM AND EMILY was converted into a fishing smack by the Drake family of Tollesbury, Essex. Her original lute stern was cut off to leave a flat stern. As a gaff-rigged sailing smack of carvel timber construction she fished the waters off East Anglia. Under her skipper, Navy Mussett, she went up the Thames for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

In 1933 a Gardner engine was installed and she then became a leading fishing vessel in the Tollesbury fleet, acting also as a tow-boat to other vessels which lacked engines. The Drake family owned and worked on the smack until the late 1960s, when she was sold to a doctor. In the early 1970s she was sold to the Fellowship Afloat Association for sail training. In the late 1980s the association had the mid section rebuilt and extended to return WILLIAM AND EMILY to her original 46ft. She was later de-rigged and used as a houseboat, in St Osyth Creek, passing through several owners’ hands.

In 2000 she was bought and moved to the smack dock in Brightlingsea for a major refit (during which her original lute stern was reinstated). WILLIAM AND EMILY (CK 212) was re-launched in 2004 and is now based at Brightlingsea for charters.

Source: Historic Sail, Britain's surviving working craft, Paul Brown, the History Press.

Key dates

  • 1830s

    Believed to have been built in the Channel Isles as cargo vessel for Essex import-export business

  • 1886

    Converted into fishing smack by Drake family of Tollesbury, Essex

  • 1897

    Went up Thames for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee under her skipper Navy Mussett

  • 1933

    Gardner engine installed and joined Tollesbury fishing fleet

  • 1960s

    Smack owned and worked on by Drake family until late 1960s when sold to doctor

  • early 1970s

    Sold to Fellowship Afloat Association for sail training

  • late 1980s

    Association had mid section rebuilt and extended to return her to original 46ft

  • 1990s

    De-rigged and used as houseboat in St Osyth Creek, passing through several owners

  • 2000

    Bought by new owner and moved to smack dock in Brightlingsea for major refit 

  • 2004

    Re-launched and based at Brightlingsea where she is available for charters

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

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