The largest surviving pilot cutter is MASCOTTE, which was built in 1904 by Thomas Cox & Son at Newport, Monmouthshire. He was also her owner and came from a family of Newport pilots. MASCOTTE was the largest Newport pilot cutter and is believed to have been the third largest Bristol Channel pilot cutter ever built.
She was described as of composite construction, having iron or steel section (supposedly railway lines) bent round to form stringers in her bilges. She was also the only pilot cutter to have rigging screws instead of deadeyes and lanyards.
MASCOTTE was licensed and ready for work in April 1904. On 13 June 1904 she was caught by a heavy gust of wind whilst cruising off Lynmouth, which carried away the mainmast at the hounds of the rigging. The topmast, masthead, gaff topsail, jib and mainsail all went over the side and other damage was done. The mast step was broken, 26 ft of the deck kingplank was ripped away, and the garboards were loosened. The tug LADY MORGAN, of Cardiff, towed the cutter to Newport where she was repaired by William Stacey.
Thomas Cox retired in 1913, aged 72, and two years later sold MASCOTTE to Thomas H Mitchell of Marazion, Cornwall, for use as a yacht. He sold her in 1925 to John Philip, director of the family shipyard on the Dart, who installed a Kelvin petrol and paraffin engine before selling her in August 1926. The new owner was Vernon Lavington Evans, of Kensington, who kept MASCOTTE for eleven years, employing a professional skipper from Tollesbury. Evans cruised and entertained aboard her regularly, for example in 1928 he undertook a three month cruise to the Scottish coast and the Orkney Islands. After getting married he sold the cutter in July 1937 to Gerard Holdsworth and Thomas Lloyd, of London.
Between 1937 and 1957 MASCOTTE had ten owners, and during the Second World War was laid up on the Hamble. In 1957 she was purchased in very poor condition by Peter Stubbs who removed her mast and other gear for use on his pilot cutterFROLIC. He sold MASCOTTE to a barge breaker for £25 but she was saved by Eric and Shirley Sharp, who bought her for £50 for use as a houseboat in Whitewall Creek, and later Strood Dock. In 1972 she was sold to Trumans of Frindsbury in Kent, and her condition again deteriorated. Then in 1980, lying on the Medina, she was bought by Paul Kennard who rebuilt her between 1980 and 1987. He then sailed MASCOTTE with his family to Portugal but his plans for chartering did not work out so he sailed back to Swansea and put her up for sale. She was purchased by S A Brain & Co, Cardiff brewers, but proved to be too deep to berth outside a planned pub.
In 1993 MASCOTTE was bought by Tony Winter who took her back to Swansea. In 1994 she was refitted and restored by T Nielsen, Gloucester. This included a new keelson, an iroko keel plank, oak covering boards and Douglas fir deck, as well as a remodelled interior which has mahogany panelling and berths for seven guests and two crew. MASCOTTE is powered by hydraulic drive to twin maxprops. Her normal sail plan includes mainsail, staysail, jib, flying jib and topsail.
Source: Paul Brown, Historic Sail, The History Press.
Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993
Classic Boat: Charter UK Destinations - Wish you were sailing?, February 2011
Classic Boat: Pilot Cutters race - at home, November 1998
Classic Boat: final few, June 1995
Rolt, Peter, The Boatman, October, 1995
Vessel built by Thomas Cox & Son, Newport, Cornwall
Operated on the Bristol Channel until steam cutters took over
Sold to Thomas H. Michell of Marazion, Cornwall
Sold to John Philip who installed a kelvin petrol/paraffin engine
Bought by Vernon Lavington Evans, based in Tollesbury, Essex
Vessel went through ten different ownerships
Bought by Peter Stubbs and taken to Whitewall Creek, removing the mast, windlass and other equipment
Bought by Paul Kennard and towed to Rye for restoration
Bought by the Cardiff brewers, S. A. Brain & Co. for conversion to a pub, but subsequently put up for sale and laid up in Swansea
Bought by private owners
Taken to Gloucester docks for full restoration by Tommi Nielsen
Sailed 630 miles from Gloucester to London
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