Previous names

  • 1941 - 1946 RML 535
Certificate no 409
Status Archived


Function Fighting Vessel
Location Galmpton
Vessel type Fairmile B
Archive reason More information required
Current use None
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Weatherhead, William & Son, Cockenzie
Built in 1941
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
18.30 feet (5.58 m)
4.59 feet (1.40 m)
Length: Overall
111.93 feet (34.14 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



Built 1941 by W Weatherhead & Son, Cockenzie, a Fairmile B motor launch. Built for the Admiralty and commissioned in 1942 as RML 535.

Her hull was made with the first pre-fabricated mass build system . The frames are bonded plywood with double diagonal mahogany planking.

During service during World War II she was stationed with 63rd ML Flotillas at Plymouth then sent to 62nd ML Flotilla at Appledore. Sold off in 1946 minus her twin Hall Scott Defender petrol engines which were on Lend Lease from the USA, she entered the Western Lady Ferry Service operating in and around the Torbay area where she worked until 1980.  Her engines are twin127 bhp Gardner 6LX installed during the winter of 1971-72, following successful installation of similar engines on Western Lady IV. 

Only 5 such vessels remain in UK waters of the 650 built during the war. WESTERN LADY is currently laid up at Galmpton, where she is unfortunately disintegrating and her future is uncertain.


World Ship Society British Armed Forces Small Craft Historical Society, Survivors Register, 1998
Armstrong, S A, The Fair (Few) Miles: The History of the Western Lady Ferry Service, Western Lady Ferry Service, 1993
Motor Boat and Yachting: Model Boats, October 1993
Hobbs, John, Old Glory: Western Ladies, May Edition 63
Ships Monthly: The Western Ladies of Torbay, August 1993
The Engineer: Some Interesting Ship Conversions, December 1948
Warship World: Fairmile MLs - some survivors still seagoing, Winter 1988

Key dates

  • 1941

    Built by William Weatherhead & Son, Cockenzie 

  • 1942

    Commisisoned and stationed with 63rd ML Flotillas at Plymouth between 1942 and 1944

  • 1944

    Moved to Appledore for brief spell before returning to Plymouth

  • 1946

    Sold off at Dartmouth and inaugurated the Western Lady Ferry Service

  • 1980

    Ceased to operate as passenger ferry, withdrawn from service and laid-up

  • 1999

    Major restoration programme to wartime service appearance under consideration

  • 2007

    In poor condition and no longer realistically salvageable. Due to be broken up

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