Registration number 791
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Trawler
Location Gillingham
Vessel type Thames Bawley
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No


Builder Cann, John & Herbert, Harwich
Built in 1909
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Cutter
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.98 feet (3.96m)
5.51 feet (1.68m)
Length: Overall
40.00 feet (12.20m)
Tonnage: Gross


DORIS is one of the few surviving Thames bawleys and has been restored to her original appearance, including the cutter rig with a loose-footed mainsail. She was built as a speculation by John and Herbert Cann at Bathside, Gashouse Creek, Harwich. There was a fleet of bawleys at Harwich but DORIS was bought in 1909 by a Leigh-on-Sea publican, Mr Choppin, who is said to have named her after his favourite daughter – he had seven daughters and one son (who ran away to sea when his father refused to sell him DORIS). Her skipper was Bill Lucking.

DORIS was then owned and sailed by William 'Billy' King, first under sail and then he had an engine fitted. In the summer she went as far as Harwich to fish for shrimp, otherwise she was used to fish for white fish as far as Gravesend.  

The Harwich and Leigh-on-Sea bawleys were identical in design and used the same builders: this reflected the migration of Leigh fishing families to Harwich when shrimps were scarce on the Thames. Cann’s bawleys were, like their sailing barges, amongst the shapeliest. Carvel built, DORIS was one of the largest bawleys and was able to work well out in the Thames estuary, trawling for shrimps in the summer, and in the winter stowboating for sprats. She also took part in bawley racing. 

DORIS was eventually retired for use as a houseboat. As restored she has oak frames, an iroko keel, her first three planks are elm, the rest being pine, whilst her whaling is oak. Her mainmast and topmast are Douglas fir, her sails are flax, and the decks are iroko; in 1999 an engine was fitted. 

Source: Historic Sail, Britain's surviving working craft, Paul Brown, the History Press.

Although this vessel is on the National Historic Fleet, we are lacking information.  If you have any details, please contact us

Key dates

  • 1909

    Vessel built by John and Herbert Cann, Bathside, Gashouse Creek, Harwich

  • 1910-1913

    Owner William Lucking of Leigh won the Leigh Race for three consecutive years


  • July 2016

    A sustainability grant of £430 for cleaning works was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK

  • January 2013

    A Sustainability Grant of £300 for cleaning from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

  • June 2010

    A Sustainability Grant of £700 for hull cleaning from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships


Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact

More like this

Saxonia sailing

Registered, built 1930 by Aldous & Sons, Brightlingsea

Good Intent - bow view - June 20

Registered, built 1860 by Starbuck, John & Robert, Gravesend

Emma - bow view

Registered, built 1845 by Bundock Brothers

Monarch in Outlon Broad

Archived, built 1939 by Haywood, Leigh on Sea