Registration number 616
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Trawler
Location Oban
Vessel type Brixham Trawler
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes


Builder Sanders & Co, Galmpton
Built in 1924
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Ketch
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
18.03 feet (5.50m)
9.18 feet (2.80m)
Length: Overall
91.93 feet (28.04m)


PROVIDENT was built by Saunders & Co at Galmpton on the River Dart in 1924. She was one of the last trawlers to be built for working under sail for the skipper William Pillar. She is of the medium size Mule class with a gaff-ketch rig. She fished for six years, with a crew of three men and a boy, and was then sold to an American, Captain R H Lagarde, who had her converted to a yacht design by Morgan Giles.

PROVIDENT had three more owners in the West Country, during which time she had an engine fitted. She spent the war years on the Helford River in Cornwall.

After the war she continued cruising, including Baltic ports and eventually arrived in Salcombe in 1951 to be put up for sale. She was purchased by John Bayley who, with PROVIDENT, founded the Island Cruising Club (ICC). She continued under Club ownership until 1971 when the newly formed Maritime Trust bought her and chartered her back to the ICC so that she could continue her sailing career.

In 1986 it became apparent that PROVIDENT's condition was such that she had to be taken out of commission. A major fundraising campaign was launched and the refit work commenced. She was launched and started sailing again at the end of 1990. The interior joinery was fitted and PROVIDENT was fully commissioned in May 1991.

In 1993, The Maritime Trust sold PROVIDENT to the Exeter based charity The Island Trust, who continued to charter her to the ICC on a similar basis.

Sept 2019: Owner Trinity Sailing announced it would be going out of business at end of 2019 sailing season. 

May 2022: Angels Share Sailing Holidays are her new owners.  She is now based in Oban and the Argyll region, and operates classic sailing holidays around the Scottish islands. 


  1. What is the vessel’s ability to demonstrate history in her physical fabric?

PROVIDENT was built in 1924 by Saunders & Co. on the R. Dart at Galmpton, Devon as one of the last such trawlers to be commissioned for working under sail. After 6 years working as a trawler she was converted by a new American owner into a yacht to a design by Morgan Giles. This fit-out and subsequent works, including having an engine fitted, reduced the amount of material surviving from her build. By 1986 PROVIDENT, by then owned by the Maritime Trust and chartered to the Island Cruising Club, was in very poor condition and was taken out of commission. A major refit in 1990/1991 which included internal joinery work resulted in a significant replacement and reworking of the vessel’s original structure and fittings. However the hull and rig  retain her original form alongside general arrangements reflecting her use as a sail training vessel.

2.      What are the vessel’s associational links for which there is no physical evidence?

PROVIDENT has several strands in her associational links. Built to replace an earlier vessel of the same name sunk by a U-boat in the First World War, apart from her time during the Second World War and subsequent cruising in the Baltic, she has sailed for almost all her life in and around Tor Bay and the Kingsbridge estuary, becoming a familiar sight to locals and visitors alike. John Bayley, who bought her in 1951 was a pioneer in developing sailing for young people, setting up the Island Cruising Club (ICC) in 1951, thereby placing Provident at the forefront of the sail training movement. She took part in the first Tall Ships race run by the Sail Training Association out of Torbay in 1956, and continued under ICC ownership until 1971, when the newly formed Maritime Trust acquired her in order to secure her future,  chartering her back to the ICC which continued to operate her. After the major 1991 refit, The Maritime Trust  sold PROVIDENT in 1993 to the Island Trust which in turn sold her in 2002  to another sail training body – Trinity Sailing – which remains her owner. Therefore the tradition of being a major force in the sail training movement continues to this day, informing how she is repaired, maintained and used, and playing a significant part in defining this vessel’s significance to the UK.

 3.       How does the vessel’s shape or form combine and contribute to her function?

Despite extensive rebuilding, PROVIDENT retains the hull form of the traditional sail-driven Brixham trawler designed both for speed, and to work well in the short seas of Torbay and the English Channel. PROVIDENT therefore incorporates a straight stem, slim deep hull, projecting counter stern and relatively generous side decks  reflecting her fishing pedigree. Her rig, originally designed to be handled by 3 men and a boy, is ideal for sail training as trainee crews have a multiplicity of tasks to be done as they learn the characteristics of this particular type of wind-driven trawler. An engine has been retained to meet modern training safety requirements. Down below, the fish hold and basic crew accommodation has been reconfigured to provide appropriate berths and facilities for trainees and professional crew.

4.      Status

 PROVIDENT is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV) as being of national significance and  is one of 6 Brixham trawlers with National Historic Fleet (NHF)  status. The Fleet comprises some 200 vessels of outstanding national significance out  of a total of 1200 vessels registered on the NRHV.


Key dates

  • 1924

    Built by Sanders & Co of Galmpton, Devon

  • 1930

    Bought by an American and converted to a yacht design by Morgan Giles


  • 1951

    Bought by John Bayley who used the vessel to found the Island Sailing Club

  • 1971

    Bought by the Maritime Trust and chartered back to the Island Sailing Club to continue her sail training career

  • 1986

    Refit commenced after major fundraising campaign

  • 1990

    Re-launched for sailing use

  • 2012

    Participated in the Avenue of Sail at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations

  • September 2019

    Owner Trinity Sailing announced it would be going out of business at end of 2019 sailing season. 

  • 2022

    Angels Share Sailing Holidays of Oban, Scotland, have acquired Provident in order to operate classic sailing holidays around the Scottish islands. 


  • March 2023

    A Sustainability Grant of £1000 for remedial work was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships with the support of Winter & Co (Marine) Ltd

  • 2016-2017

    £20,000 awarded to Trinity Sailing Foundation from the PRISM Fund towards conservation of the vessel's deck

  • January 2013

    A Sustainability Award of £1000 towards the costs of restoring the keel was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK


Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, Edition 2, 1993
Lost Ships of the West Country, Stanford Maritime, 1988
Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993
Sullivan, Dick, Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums, Coracle Books, 1978
Corin, John, Provident and the Story of the Brixham Smacks, Tops'l Books, 1980
Classic Boat:The provenance of Provident, October 2005
Classic Boat: Brixham trawling for Funding, June 2004   
Johnstone-Bryden, Richard, Maritime Heritage: Salcombe's Historic Vessels, pp53-5, September-October Volume 2.3, 1998  
Ships Monthly: A-Z of Sail; Provident, pp33, July 1994 

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