Certificate no 831
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Dredger
Location Maldon
Vessel type Oyster Smack
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Aldous & Sons, Brightlingsea
Built in 1907
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Cutter
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Sail
Primary engine type None
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.50 feet (3.81 m)
5.33 feet (1.63 m)
Length: Overall
44.00 feet (13.42 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



Built for the Bowles family of Tollesbury in 1907 at Brightlingsea, SALLIE was registered for oyster dredging with a crew of four with the fishing number CK224.  This was seasonal work and she certainly participated in other fishing like trawling and stowboating for sprays.  She was remembered by Lennox Leavitt reminiscing in the 1970s as a "good boat" though this was late in her life as a motor smack and probably referred to her carrying capacity.  She was a medium sized smack of 44 feet known as class two boats able to fish in the Thames estuary, the class one boats ranging round Britain and the Class three being mainly day boats.  She had an auxiliary engine fitted in 1923 which is early.  There is a photo of her before this when fully rigged at Faversham.  Auxiliaries lost more sail progressively as engines improved initially retaining mast and "leg of mutton" mainsail and staysail.

SALLIE continued to fish until 1952 though laid up during the war.  By the fifties she had been fully motorised with two shrouds instead of three a side and a short mast and derrick.  Her fishing register terminated that year with a statement "sold out of fishing".  She was then owned by Drake Bros boatyard and may have become theirs' after a mooring debt.  Coincidentally the last stowboating voyage was undertaken by the Charlotte Ellen in the same year.  She was built by Kidby at Brightlingsea and has fine lines. Whereas there is some later evidence SALLIE was also built by Kidby, her shape is far more that of Aldous reproduced in scores of "off the shelf" vessels.

The new owner was Peter Light, famed as one of the last generation of sailing bargemen in trade in the 1950s under sail.  He ran SALLIE as a charter boat alongside the Memory, the first charter barge run by John Kemp who transferred her gear to the bigger THALATTA when the East Coast Sail Trust was formed.  SALLIE was an auxiliary but re-rigged as a cutter smack with bowsprit but no topmast.  She regularly went to Ostend for the weekend from her mooring at Heybridge.  She passed to West Mersea Sea Scouts in 1962 or thereabouts when Peter rerigged Baltic Trader Solvig

She remained with the Scouts until 1972 when they sold her to acquire a more modern vessel, the ex-ocean racer Ramrod, arguably less suitable for the role.  With two offers, one lower keeping her in home waters and one higher from Whitby she went north, being towed into Brancaster by Sherringham lifeboat.  Once repaired and in Whitby she became a hulk and was bought by the current owner and friends who found her in 1980 in the rubbish dump.

Refloated and taken home to Essex by road she was rebuilt at Downs Road Boatyard and sailed again in 1989, with her original rig and no engine.  She attended Brest-Douarnenez in 1992 and 2000 and the launch of Heritage Afloat in London.


Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993
Classic Boat: Rescuing Sallie, May 2004

Key dates

  • 1907

    Built by Robert Aldous at Brightlingsea for the Bowles family of Tollesbury and registered for oyster dredging

  • 1907-52

    Dredged the Thames Estuary, stow boating for sprats and fish trawling

  • 1952

    Owned by Peter Light, one of the last generation of sailing bargemen, and operated as a charter boat

  • 1960s

    Passed to the Sea Scouts

  • 1973

    Sold to a private owner from Leicester and foundered near Blakeney Harbour  Refloated on the next tide and towed to Moreston Creek

  • 1973-81

    Hulked at Whitby near the harbour wall

  • 1982-89

    Almost totally rebuilt, engineless and with sails of traditional cotton

  • 2000

    Sailed to L’Aberwrach, Brest and Douarnenez festivals

  • 2007

    Granted £3000 towards the cost of new sails by the National Historic Ships Strategic Development Fund

  • 2012

    Fully restored by her owner and moored at Herring Point near Maldon


  • January 2013

    Conference Award of £200 towards the costs the RINA Conference was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK. Source: National Historic Ships UK

  • 2007

    A Sustainability Grant of £3000 for new sails was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

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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