Certificate no 710
Status Registered


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Dredger
Location West Mersea
Vessel type Thames Bawley
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required Yes


Builder Aldous & Sons, Brightlingsea
Built in 1930
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Cutter
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.00 feet (3.66 m)
5.00 feet (1.53 m)
Length: Overall
35.00 feet (10.67 m)
Air Draft
To be confirmed



SAXONIA was built in 1930 by Auldous Successors Ltd in Brightlingsea, built for William young and son Ltd in 1930. To augment their fleet of existing Bawleys based in Leigh on sea, working along side the likes of The Enterprise LO58. She was picked up by William young, one of his skippers, taken her straight to Leigh On Sea  and put to work, after having an engine fitted being probably the last Bawley to built with an engine. So she straddles that world of the pure wooden sailing boats and the modern motorised smacks. She was built of pitch pine with an engine and a full sailing rig.

She was fished out of Leigh On Sea for whitebait. And she was also the last of the stowboaters. She worked for young's under various skippers named Surs, principally a skipper called Ken Boundy, who had her for 10-15 years, as a payed employee of Young's until 1964, when she was sold to the Colchester Oyster Fishery Company. She was fitted out with a slightly more comfortable cabin, for cabin and also with lockers and a bunk, aft, for a skipper, to enable William Young  and his wife to take themselves and their daughter for a weeks holiday every August.

The Company Youngs, a multi national fishing conglomerate, its now based in Grimsby, not Leigh On Sea, moving to Grimsby in 1960s. SAXONIA was later sold away from Youngs in 1946, when stowboating had become obsolete with introduction of a new method of fishing known as pair trawling, where you need powerful motor fishing boats, with the nets strung between them, however SAXONIA carried on working for the Colchester Fishery as an oyster dredger and she dredged in the pyfleet, no more than a mile from where she was built some 30 years earlier and worked as a oyster dredge through till about 1978/79 when she was converted back to her original sailing rig and used as a private yacht. Crispin Chartered her and so did Jimi Lawrence, had Chartered her, which was about 15 years, but not on a  commercial level, he did mabey half a dozen Charters a year, to promote his business and to promote the ship and to keep her working, so he could say she has never been taken out of the trade. Crispin built the business up quite considerably, and made a full time living , taking Charter parties out on SAXONIA. Crispin did 40 trips in the period of early April to start of mid October which is an average about 2-3 charter trips a week. He tried to vary what he did every time he took parties out, for him was just to go for a sail. He also did traditional oyster dredging, taking part in the 2013 oyster dredging match in Saxonia, he had a set of oyster dredges for her also trawling with a beam trawl, also having some  herring nets that he sometimes used.

SAXONIA is a very heavy Gaff- rigged boat, she weighs in at 20 tons, still rigged out entirely, exactly like she would have been in 1930 as a working boat, and she is one of only six boats like her. She is as built in 1930, she had a few knocks and bangs and had to have things replaced.

Auldous quotation for building her was £510 a separate price for the supply of the mainsail, staysail and jib in best flex canvas was £110. Constructed of the best materials for fishing boat she was a loss to the yard, not a common result when building wooden vessels. The SAXONIA was worked from Burnam on Crouch, under skipper Surs. She is rigged and sailed for pleasure, a use for bawleys which would puzzle their original owners. In 1934 there were twenty- two Bawleys still working from Leigh ; four years later were only fourteen. The others were sold to yachtsmen for conversion for pleasure sailing, £110 being a typical price, were broken up for fire wood. Some were left in mash rills to decay or gave up fishing, younger crews could not be found for them. They were attracted into the new motor Shrimpers and cocklers which could be even more with fewer dimensions of crew.

A few Bawleys lingered on underpower into the early nineteenth-fifties, used for whitebait-fishing, 2 or 3 bawleys at work with the stow nets at that time. Usually Seward of Southend Pier. The SAXONIA was among these last time before she was sold for conversion to an oyster company at East Mersea, where she was worked in the Nineteenth Sixties and seventies. In 1979 she was re-rigged to be used for pleasure sailing. 1989 - 2004 + Charter.

Although her hull form, scatlings and arrangements were in the manner of her many predecessors under power in her owners principal. Subsequently to her reconstruction, After the distarsrously cold winter of 1962 which almost wiped out the stocks of the Colne Oysters. She became one of 2 to dredge operated by a winch in place of the centuries old method of hand- dredging. After several years of her work the Saxonia was converted to a rigged bawley in 1979. She  is the most modern afloat.




Classic Boat: Charter UK Destinations - Wish you were here?, February 2011
Classic Boat: At Close Quarters: James Lawrence: a bargeman in stitches, August 1999
Classic Yacht: Classic Charter Opportunities, August 1997

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