Certificate no 757
Status Registered


Function Leisure Craft
Subfunction Yacht
Location River Dart
Vessel type Racing Yacht
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Fay, J G & Son Ltd, Southampton
Built in 1903
Hull material
Rig Bermudan Cutter
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Sail
Primary engine type Unknown
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
10.98 feet (3.35 m)
7.51 feet (2.29 m)
Length: Overall
57.28 feet (17.47 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


KELPIE was built in 1903 by J G Fay (later taken over by Camper and Nicholson) and designed by Alfred Mylne as a Solent 38 foot class to race with the 52 foot Linear Raters.  She was classed as a 12 Metre and raced with the 12s well into the 1920s. 

In 1914, it is believed that KELPIE was involved in the Erskine Childers’ plot to run guns into Ireland to use against the Irish Free State government.  600 carbines aboard KEPLIE were transferred to a fishing boat off Howth and she slipped away undetected.  Childers was captured and executed much later in 1922. 

In 1939 she was safely kept on the river Dart - many yacht owners were encouraged to give up their lead keels for the war effort. After a string of South Coast owners she returned to the Dartmouth where she benefited from 15 years of careful renewal and thorough maintenance.

During the 1960's she was sold to Newton Ferrers Sailing School and believed to have suffered from an internal fire when the majority of the interior was destroyed.

The boat was later restored by Adrian Stone in the 1980's and bought by city financier Brian Keelan.  A RSJ was inserted (as the keelson) to strengthen the keel and stem. Later a substantial amount of weight was taken out to help with a major restoration of her.  Undertaken by Fairlie's yard in Hamble this included a new rudder, stem and sternpost.  The restoration took 2 1/2 winters to complete.  She has since raced in the Med and the channel where she has achieved considerable success, winning her class in a number of regattas, including the Channel regatta, Mahon, and St Tropez.

In December 2020 it was reported that KELPIE was undergoing conservation at The Elephant Boatyard, Southampton. 


Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993
Classic Boat: Kelpie back to original after extensive restoration, July 2011
Classic Boat: Classic Boat Restoration of the Year Awards, January 2012
Classic Boat: Rekindling Kelpie, July 2011 
Sharp, Nigel, Classic Boat: A Family Affair, pp8-14, August 2014  
Classic Boat: Top Weekend, August 2007
Classic Boat: Keeping Kelpie, July 2019

Key dates

  • 1903 Built by J G Fay
  • 1914

    Believed to be involved in Erksine Childers' plot.

  • 1939 Kept safe form the war on the river Dart
  • 1960 Sold to Newton Ferrers Sailing School
  • 1980 New owner and restored by Adrian Stone
  • 2001 New ownership
  • 2008 Bought by current owner

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

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