Previous names

  • 1922 Skylark
Certificate no 552
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Leisure Craft
Subfunction Yacht
Location Southampton
Vessel type Cruise Boat
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required Yes


Builder Thornycroft, J I & Co Ltd, Hampton
Built in 1922
Hull material Wood
Rig Bermudan Ketch
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
13.08 feet (3.99 m)
4.98 feet (1.52 m)
Length: Overall
59.97 feet (18.29 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



TAHILLA was built as SKYLARK by Thornycrofts at Hampton-on-Thames in 1922. She was commissioned by D Melville Wills of the Bristol tobacco family, to travel from there to his estates in Scotland. One of the Dunkirk Little Ships, she belonged at that time to W Egerton Wilson of Colwyn Bay in Wales, but was kept on the Thames.

After the war, she remained in Admiralty ownership until 1948 and then became a widely travelled and comfortable cruising ship. Eleanor Samuelson owned her throughout the 1960s when she came to know the French canals well and the current owner, who had business interests in the South of France, found TAHILLA there in the mid-sixties and used her as a floating office. He had to rebuild the coach roof over the engine compartment and the after-deck and, fifteen years later, bought her back home where she is now used as a family cruiser in the Solent.

Although this vessel is on the National Historic Fleet, we are currently lacking information on this particular vessel. If you have any information on this vessel past or present, please contact us.



Brann, Christian, The Little Ships of Dunkirk: 1940-1990, Collectors Books Ltd, 1989
ADLS News: Fleet news, Spring 2015
Classic Boat: Tell Tales: Dunkirk trust down, not out, August 2000
Classic Boat: The Little Ships Prepare to Revisit Dunkirk, May 2015
Classic Boat: St George's Crossing, August 2000

Key dates

  • 1922

    Built by Thornycroft at Hampton on Thames for D. Melville-Wills

  • 1940

    Requisitioned by the Admiralty and took part in the Dunkirk evacuation

  • 1948

    Released from Admiralty service.  Owned by W Egerton-Wilson of Colwyn Bay

  • 1960s

    Owned by Eleanor Samuelson and cruised extensively through the French canals and Mediterranean

  • 1969

    Bought by current owner and based in the Solent

  • 2012

    Vessel selected for  Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact

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