Previous names

  • 1902 - 1912 Irene II
Certificate no 740
Status Registered


Function Leisure Craft
Subfunction Yacht
Location Preston
Vessel type Pleasure Yacht
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Bond, S F, Birkenhead
Built in 1902
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Yawl
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
9.10 feet (2.78 m)
8.00 feet (2.44 m)
Length: Overall
52.00 feet (15.86 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



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

Evidence for designs, functions, techniques, processes, styles, customs and habits or uses and associations in relation to events and people.  How early, intact or rare these features are may impact on significance.

Being commissioned in the reign of Queen Victoria, and launched in 1902, the year after her death, ESPAÑOLA is a fully conserved, essentially intact, operational example of a very early gaff-rigged Edwardian yacht. Her raked stem, together with a long over-hanging elliptical counter-stern, were design features which enabled yachts of this kind to maintain their speed through the water when heeled over in strong winds, because the increase in water-line length compensates for the greater frictional drag. According to the racing rules of the time, yacht length was measured between perpendiculars, so the long counter-stern with a through-deck rudder also gave an added advantage when racing.

ESPAÑOLA is constructed of teak on oak (with pitch pine strakes below the waterline). She is copper fastened, with mainly bronze fittings on deck, and an external lead keel secured with bronze keel bolts. Together, these materials comprise a classic combination much favoured by yacht builders of the Edwardian era.  The majority of the hull strakes are original, as are the frames and ribs, though most of these have been doubled over the years. The main design features are intact, and the overall form of the vessel remains, although she has been re-decked on at least two occasions.

Circa 1959, the vessel’s principal use became cruising-orientated which resulted in the following changes, mostly still in place today: an extension of the skylight to form a low coach-roof for increased headroom, a change in the rig from gaff cutter to bermudan yawl, traditional tackles replaced by bronze winches, and a change in the internal accommodation to a post-war layout (galley aft with chart table opposite, and skipper’s quarters replaced by quarter-berths, engine space and a deeper cockpit).  In 1998, the current owner returned ESPAÑOLA to gaff rig, whilst retaining the yawl configuration. At build, ESPAÑOLA’s propulsion was by sail alone, but her first engine was fitted in 1912 and she now has a 43hp Betamarine diesel engine (1999-present).

Conservation work to the vessel includes: re-splining, caulking, sealing, and fairing-in of all hull seams, re-construction of the stem and counter-stern, replacement of port and starboard teak sheer strakes, fitting of new decks (new beam-shelf, 1” double-ply sub-deck, with ¼” teak laid above) and replacement of copper sheathing using traditional methods. A new mainmast was fitted in 1999 and all spars were replaced in 2008.  The keel bolts were removed, surveyed, and replaced in 2009, with one being renewed.  Her sails are now terylene, but have been triple-stitched with narrow panels and hand-sewn bolt ropes, reflecting her traditional ethos. Epoxy resins have replaced both pitch (in the deck seams) and traditional glues and synthetic running rigging has replaced natural fibre. The original carved “greyhound” tiller head with its Celtic silver collar was scarfed to a new tiller. Her one remaining original carved deck beam and her original bronze rudder stock also survive. The original Simpson-Lawrence windlass has been stripped-down, re-galvanised and rebuilt as new, and her original fore-hatch has been restored.

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

Associations with people or places.  Off-ship research.

ESPAÑOLA was the last yacht to be launched at Bond’s Green Lane yard in Birkenhead in the transition period between the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  She has links to the Merseyside area dating from her build and first ownership, which saw her racing with the Royal Mersey Yacht Club, where her half-model is still on display today. ESPAÑOLA was berthed in Ireland from 1912 to c.1952. During this period, she had the distinction of being raced by King Alphonse XIII of Spain (when he visited the Royal Irish Yacht Club in 1912), after which she was renamed in his honour. She was also one of five yachts which founded the Irish Cruising Club at Glengariff in 1929, and her owner, H.M. Wright, was the first Commodore until his death in 1942.  She was a frequent participant in the Irish Sea Corinthian Races during the 1920s and 30s, winning many trophies.

In later life, ESPAÑOLA was based on the East Coast where she took part in cross-Channel races and was subsequently owned by Sir Ian Lloyd, a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Throughout her life, ESPAÑOLA’s most frequented cruising grounds have been Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and she has retained close associations to these areas today, particularly to Irish waters and the ports of Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) and Crosshaven (Queenstown) where she is fondly recalled by the more elderly members of the yacht clubs in those areas. Extensive research has been carried out and the vessel is well documented, including letters, log books and press clippings, with a book published by the current owner on her history and conservation. ESPAÑOLA has been recorded on the National Register of Historic Vessels since 1998.

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

Overall aesthetic impact of the vessel, her lines, material she was built from and her setting.  Does she remain in her working environment?

ESPAÑOLA’s shape and form represent the pinnacle of yacht design and construction epitomised by the Edwardian era. Yacht designs during this period were purely based on sea-keeping qualities, sailing ability and aesthetics: flush decks, fine ends, a narrow beam for speed, a huge gaff main, and a long, deep, external ballast keel for stability were the characteristics of yachts of this time. ESPAÑOLA’s 7-ton external lead ballast is typically about fifty percent of the total displacement, and she has a length-to-beam ratio of about 5:1. She also has a raked stem, a feature first popularised by the Royal Yacht Britannia (launched in 1893), earlier yachts having vertical stems. ESPAÑOLA retains her original shape today, with a slight increase in her displacement caused by the additional weight of the engine and other equipment. She retains her gaff rig, and the yawl configuration, though not as striking as the original, is more suitable for short-handed cruising. ESPAÑOLA continues to cruise in full operational condition in the waters where she has spent most of her life.

Source: vessel owner, 22 January 2017.

Designed and built by Sam Bond, a famous boat building family in Birkenhead at the turn of the century, Española is constructed of 11/4 inch planks (teak above the waterline, pitch-pine below) on steamed rock elm and grown oak frames. She was originally rigged as a flush-decked gaff cutter. A half model of her remains today in the possession of the Royal Mersey Yacht Club. Española’s launch on Monday, 24th. March 1902 at Green Lane, Birkenhead is recorded in the March issue of 'Yachting', a copy of which was obtained from the Cruising Association library at St. Katherine's Dock, London. The original Certificate of Registry of a British Ship can be viewed at the Customs House Archives, Pier Head, Liverpool. She was launched 'Irene II' under the ownership of Buckley Holmes and Arthur Bradbury.  Her official number is O.N. 115269.

Irene II was acquired in 1911 by H.M.Wright (‘HM’), when she was berthed at Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), remaining there until 1943. In 1912 Irene II was renamed Española in honour of King Alphonse XIII of Spain who raced her during his visit to the Royal Irish Yacht Club (certified). Auxiliary power for harbour manoeuvering was provided at this time by a Brookes petrol/paraffin 7 hp engine. Española is referenced in various books, including ‘Cruising Yarns from Yachting Monthly’ c.1933 (‘The First Cruise of the Española’ c.1912), 'Leaves From Rowan's Logs', and 'To Sail the Crested Sea' (a history of Irish yachting). Española and four other yachts from Dublin Bay took part in a cruise-in-company to south-west Ireland in June and July 1929. During the cruise, at Glengariff on June 29th, the crews announced the formation of the Irish Cruising Club. Being the senior skipper present, HM was proposed and elected as the first commodore. Whilst in Dun Laoghaire, Española flew the burgees of the Royal Irish, Royal Alfred and Dublin Bay Yacht Clubs, and the Royal Cruising Club. During this period, HM was a regular competitor in the Corinthian races, and cruised regularly to South West Ireland, the Isle of Man, North Wales and the Western Isles of Scotland. HM skippered her until a year before his death in 1943, his 86th. year.

Española was purchased in 1943 by Charles Orr Stanley (MD, Pye UK and Ireland) and was berthed at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, where she remained until 1956. She was involved in the post-‘Emergency’ (World War II) yachting scene at Crosshaven. She has since been resident in England under various owners and burgees, including the Royal Harwich Yacht Club (from 1956 to 1958, under the ownership of Ronald and Eleanor Hamilton), and the Royal Yacht Squadron (from 1962 to 1968, under the ownership of Sir Ian Lloyd). Sir Ian contributed significantly to Española’s longevity: no expense was spared on her maintenance, much of the work being carried out annually at notable yards such as Camper and Nicholson at Gosport. 

Española was re-rigged as a bermudan yawl in 1959 by Peter and Jane Sartory, when a low coachroof was added to improve headroom below. The old Brookes engine was also replaced by a 14 hp Morris Oxford unit. Later, in 1972, this was changed for a 43 hp Mercedez diesel engine by Messrs. B.J. Deak and L. Lazar who owned Española from 1968 until 1978, during which time she was berthed at Newhaven.

No expense has been spared under the present owner/skipper. Española was given new wings in 1998 when she was also re-rigged as a gaff yawl. A new Betamarine 43 hp diesel engine and a new main-mast were fitted in 1999. She was extensively restored in 2003-4 at Waterfront Marine, Port Penrhyn, Bangor, North Wales. The restoration included new teak laid decks, shear strakes, counter-stern, stem and mast-step, together with overall re-fastening, re-splining, re-caulking and traditional copper sheathing. A new set of spars was added in 2008, funded by a grant from the National Historic Ships Society with which Espanola has been registered since 2000. In 2009 Espanola’s bronze keel-bolts were extracted, surveyed, and replaced as required. Her vital statistics are LOA 54 ft.; LOD 47 ft.; beam 10 ft.; draft 8 ft.; laden displacement 17 tons (including a 7-ton external lead ballast keel). Espanola is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels. A book detailing her history, restoration and selected cruises is available from Amazon (ISBN 978-3-639-34184-3).

Cruises have been undertaken under the present owner/skipper to Skye, the Outer Hebrides, St. Kilda, the West Coast of Ireland, Brest, Penzance, and the Scillies, as well as regular visits to Ireland, the Isle of Man and North Wales. 


Gates, Robin, Classic Boat: A Manx Tale, pp50-54, September 1995   

Key dates

  • 1901

    Commissioned by Buckley Holmes and Arthur Bradbury. Keel laid at Bond's yard, Birkenhead. 

  • 1902, 24th March

    Moored at Tranmere. 

  • 1902, 7th April

    Registered at Liverpool to Buckley Holmes. 

  • 1911, 18th September

    Moored at Dun Laoghaire. Re-named "Espanola". 

  • 1912, 23rd May

    Brookes petrol/parraffin engine fitted. 

  • 1912, 2nd June

    Founding of Irish Cruising Club at Glengariff 

  • 1929, 13th July

    Purchased by Herbert James Wright 

  • 1942, May

    Purchased by Charles Orr Stanley 

  • 1943, July

    Moored at Crosshaven 

  • 1943

    Moored at Pin Mill, River Orwell, England 

  • 1946

    Morris Oxford engine installed (date unknown). Purchased by Ronald John Hamilton. 

  • 1956

    Purchased by Peter and Anne Sartory. 

  • 1958

    Registered and moored at Ramsgate. Rigged as "bermudan yawl". 

  • 1959, 29th May

    Coach-roof, winches, stanchions, pulpit, pushpit fitted. 

  • 1962, 6th July

    Purchased by Sir Ian Stewart Lloyd. Moored at Newhaven. 

  • 1970, 4th June

    Registered to B.J. Deak and L Lazar. 

  • 1972

    Daimler-Benz engine installed.

  • 1978

    Purchased by Charles Attwood. Ashore at Chichester. 

  • 1984, 25th September

    Registered to Charles Attwood. 

  • 1985, 16th December

    Purchased by Dennis Wright. 

  • 1989, 10th June

    By road to Conwy, North Wales.

  • 1989, 14th June

    Berthed at Preston Marina. 

  • 1992, June

    Registered to current owner. 

  • 1996, May

    New coach-roof fitted. 

  • 1998

    Elliptical counter-stern restored. 

  • 1999, August

    New set of boom-sails, including a gaff-main. New Beta-Marine 43 h.p. diesel engine.

  • 2001, August

    New mainmast 

  • 2001-2

    No.1 keel bolt replaced. 

  • 2008, May

    Bangor, North Wales 

  • 2003-4

    Raymarine navigation network installed. Major restoration at Waterfront Marine, Port Penrhyn, Bangor, North Wales. 

  • 2009, May/June

    New spars fitted (funded by NHS grant). Keel bolts removed and tested (1 bolt replaced). 

  • Unknown

    A book has been published entitled "Espanola: Edwardian Cutter - The History, Restoration and Selected Voyages of the Edwardian Cutter Espanola". Available from Amazon. 


  • 2007

    A Sustainability Grant of £3000 to cover the cost of spars was awarded from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

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