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Not strictly speaking a ship named Ipswich, however this thirteenth century vessel has since become known as ‘The Ipswich Galley’.
In 1294, twenty six towns in the south & east of England were ordered by King Edward I to build galleys for the war with France. Two prominent Ipswich citizens - Philip Harneys & Thomas Aylred -were assigned to build Ipswich’s contribution, plus a barge or tender. Harneys is known to have owned a shipyard on what was then known as Ding Quay (now Neptune Quay) & it is probable that this is where the galley was built.
No plans or designs have survived, although copies of the builder’s inventory are still in existence. The King had ordered that the galleys should each be fitted with 120 oars, & it has been surmised, from the inventory, that the Ipswich ship would have had a mast 80 feet high. The ship took six months to build, but when launched was damaged by a storm during her first sea trial, which took eight days to repair.
What became of the ‘Ipswich Galley’ thereafter is not recorded.
Prior to the first Register of Ships, published by Lloyd's Register in 1764, the records of ship’s names & where they were built is very patchy. The importance of Ipswich, both as a port & a centre of the ship building industry, however, is evident from the volume of ships prior to the mid eighteenth century that bear the suffix of Ipswich. Many are known only by a single reference; from port books, state papers, the Ipswich Corporation Records, court or chancery records etc. There is, in most cases, very little detail extant concerning these vessels; some being simply no more than a passing reference. It is impossible in most cases to know the size & tonnage of the vessel, or how she was rigged.
It seems that the suffix of Ipswich was appended to the name of the ship in order to differentiate between ships of the same name from different ports; as many of the names, particularly personal names such as William, Margaret, George etc, were in common use as the names of British vessels prior to the nineteenth century. In many instances, it is unclear whether the of Ipswich suffix is actually part of the craft’s name, or simply an indication of the ship’s place of origin. It is, however, with the of Ipswich tag that they have been preserved for posterity, & therefore how they are now known.
We have adopted a policy of noting those that we have found prior to the end of the 16th century. There were undoubtedly more that have been lost to history through the lack or loss of records from that period. After 1600 there is far more information available as the Admiralty required that records should be maintained at the ports of ships based there. For the 17th century we, therefore, only mention ships “of Ipswich” that are (in our opinion) noteworthy for some reason, particularly with those lost at sea or were involved in the transport of the early pioneers to America.
Mighel (or Michel) of Ipswich: Recorded in 1311, with Nicholas de Oreford as governor & John Irp as master.
Magdalen of Ipswich: Summoned by the Navy in 1372, this ship & its crew are recorded as being reinforced by 28 fighting men en route from Gascony.
George of Ipswich: A merchantman of 170 tons, converted for war with France in 1385.
Mary of Ipswich: Recorded as arriving at her home port in 1386 laden with 110 tuns (large casks) of wine.
Katerine of Ipswich: Ran aground with a cargo of iron, wine & salt on sandbanks at the mouth of the Thames in 1390, probably returning from Spain.
Trinity of Ipswich: Recorded several times in the late fourteenth century as returning to Ipswich with cargoes of salt or wine. She is known to have sailed from Ipswich, under master Robert Templeman, in July 1398 carrying a large consignment of cloth, probably bound for Spain or Gascony. This may also have been the Trinity that was summoned by the Navy around 1402, along with 80 mariners from Ipswich & the surrounding villages, under master John Mayhew.
Laurence of Ipswich: Owned by Edmund Brook of Ipswich, this vessel is recorded in chancery records of 1408, after a protracted dispute with Hull merchants who had seized the ship. Brook was eventually awarded damages of more than £1,400 by the Admiralty court.
Nicholas of Ipswich: Under master Richard Gouty, this craft was involved in a dispute with William Johanson of Newcastle in 1424. This may also have been the same Nicholas that was summoned by the Navy in 1382.
Margaret (or Margarete) of Ipswich: Robert Toke is recorded as owning a quarter share of this merchantman, which he sold to the King in 1462, after which she was converted for war.
Kervell (or Kervel) of Ipswich: In 1481, Thomas Coke is recorded as being commissioned by the King to take 40 mariners in the former wool ship ‘Kervel of Eppswich’ to fight against the Scots. (Kervel is another spelling of ‘carvel’; a type of ‘skeleton ship’ in which each plank is fastened separately, edge to edge, onto the ship’s frame to give a stronger, more watertight hull. They were usually two or three masted)
James of Ipswich: Recorded in the petty court records of the 1490s as sailing for Iceland to trade on behalf of London haberdasher Philip Balle.
John of Ipswich: Petty court records of 1498 provide evaluation details of this vessel, which was the subject of a dispute between Thomas Waltrot & Robert Brussele. It was decided that she was worth £24 fully rigged.
Sabine of Ipswich: William Sabine (1491-1543) was a prominent merchant of Ipswich and master of his own ship, named after him. In 1512 he was called upon to patrol the Straits of Dover to keep them free for shipping. He was later the MP for Ipswich from 1539 to 1540.
Lion of Ipswich: Recorded as carrying broadcloth to Vigo, Spain in 1568.
Thomas of Ipswich: One of the 15 ships that sailed with Martin Frobisher on his government-sponsored third voyage to the New World looking for the North-West Passage in 1578. This ship of 130 tons was paid for by Thomas Bonham of Ickworth, Suffolk, hence its name. The venture was unprofitable and it only made this one journey to Canada and back because it was “so beaten up by weather that £100 could not save her” as was claimed in Thomas Bonham’s petition for reimbursement from the government.
William of Ipswich: Owned by John Tye, this hoy of 140 tons sailed against the Armada in 1588, with Barnabie Lowe in command. (The Lowe family were prominent mariners of Ipswich - see further below.) A William of Ipswich was still sailing in 1657, when she was recorded in the London Port Book.
Katherine of Ipswich (also recorded as Catherine): Another hoy, this one of 125 tons, owned by John Barber. She also sailed against the Armada in 1588, under the command of Thomas Grymble.
The cost of sending the two vessels above to war was borne by the Ipswich Corporation, with the town bailiffs mortgaging Portman’s Meadow (the site of the modern day football ground) to raise the funds. Both vessels served in the fleet as armed merchantmen (coasters or hoys), carrying freight and supplies to and from the major ships, in the division commanded by Lord Henry Seymour. Both were armed with 50 guns.
The next year (1589), in a reprisal expedition to Spain, Ipswich sent four vessels: in the second squadron was the James of Ipswich (180 tons); the William of Ipswich (160 tons); the Red Lion of Ipswich (a hoy of 160 tons); and in the fifth squadron the William of Ipswich (a hoy of 200 tons). (The tonnage shown for the same ship differed at this period because of the various ways of assessing a ship - see Adventure of Ipswich below.)
Long Robert of Ipswich: During the war with Spain, a military expedition was sent against Cadiz in 1625 in which this ship was lost with all hands (175 men) in a storm on 12th October 1625.
Adventure of Ipswich: This was the largest merchantman on the east coast, between 220 and 240 tons, dependent on the way that ships were assessed at that time. This was the problem, there were at least two ways of assessing the tonnage. The first thing to say is that “tonnage” has nothing to do with weight. It is to do with the volume of the ship, i.e. the availability to earn revenue. The tax levied on shipping was based on the number of theoretical “tuns” (barrels) of wine it could hold. In order to estimate the capacity of a ship in terms of “tuns” for tax purposes, a formula was used that took the measurements of the length, breadth (beam) of the ship and depth of the keel. The two measures used differed in the interpretation of what constituted these parts of a ship. In 1627 the commissioners for the navy decided to adopt a third standard of measurement and they chose the Adventure of Ipswich, being the largest merchant ship available, as the example as to how to perform these measurements. The Mayflower II that was built and sailed across the Atlantic in 1957 was not actually a replica of that ship, since its measurements were unknown, but it was modelled on the Adventure of Ipswich, whose dimensions were obviously known. The Mayflower II is now berthed at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The Lowe family of Ipswich had a notable line of mariners. Barnabie Lowe was captain of the William of Ipswich in 1588 (see above). His cousin John Lowe (died 1612) in his will bequeathed his share of ownership in the Tobias of Ipswich, Little Suzan of Ipswich, The Robert of Ipswich, and Rebecca of Ipswich to his sons. The Rebecca of Ipswich was later captured by Dutch privateers in 1658 along with the Mary of Ipswich, both being sold and renamed. As was usual for this period, John Lowe and his sons were also masters (captains) for several voyages of the various ships in which they were part-owners. His son, also John Lowe, is notable for his part in the Winthrop fleet that led the first large wave of immigrants from England to North America in 1630.
John Lowe the younger was master of the Abraham of Ipswich in 1610 according to the Records of the High Court of Admiralty. In 1625 Saphire Ford built a ship at Ipswich which was named Ambrose of Ipswich of 250 tons or thereabouts. John Lowe became master of the newly built ship. In April 1630 the Ambrose of Ipswich was part of John Winthrop’s fleet of 12 ships taking immigrants to the New World with John Lowe appointed rear-admiral, second-in-command. On the return leg the ship was dismasted off Newfoundland and had to be towed by an accompanying ship to Bristol, England. The Ambrose of Ipswich was brought home as a derelict and Lowe was unable to pay his men. A long court case followed as Lowe attempted to obtain payment from the hirer of the ship. This was eventually settled out of court. The ship continued to appear in the records of those based at Ipswich, so she must have been finally repaired.During the 1630s, Ipswich was an important departure point for Puritan families setting sail for a new life in America. This exodus included, of course, the Winthrop family; John Winthrop Junior later being instrumental in the establishment of the settlement that was to become Ipswich, Massachusetts. The Winthrops had sailed in 1630-31, with many others following in their wake over the next few years. In April 1634, the Elizabeth of Ipswich & the Francis of Ipswich set out from the Orwell heading for the new world, whilst the 400 ton Great Hope of Ipswich is recorded as arriving in America in August 1635 (Governor Winthrop writes in his Journal on 16th August 1635 that this ship was “driven aground at Charlestown” during a storm - presumably not worth recovering as nothing more is heard of her). Two years later, in June 1637, the John & Dorothy of Ipswich was one of three ships to depart from Ipswich for the New World. This was followed in 1638 by the Diligent of Ipswich, which docked in Boston in August of that year.
On 13th September 1653, a Cromwellian task force under the command of Colonel Ralph Cobbett suffered the loss of three ships on the rocks off Duart Point, Isle of Mull, Scotland during a great storm. One of the ships lost is recorded as being the Martha & Margrett of Ipswich. She seems to have been a store ship carrying provisions & ammunition. A plaque close to the shore near Duart Castle commemorates the incident.
After registration of ships over 15 tons became compulsory in the UK in 1786, duplicate names were no longer allowed. However, the same name could be used with the suffix of the port, hence “of Ipswich” could then become part of the official name of a ship. The other way of differentiating ships came with the use of numerals after the name, such as 1, 2, 3 or I, II, III. In the 20th century another device was to drop the ‘of’ and replace it with a colon, hence we have Shenandoah : Ipswich.
See also Thames Barges ‘of Ipswich’, below.
The Ipswich Catts or Cats (a corruption of the word Catch) were large collier ships that were built in, & operated from the town’s port for several centuries; probably from the Middle Ages onwards. The town’s Common Seal, designed in the year 1200, is thought to show the earliest depiction of an Ipswich Catt, & is also of interest as it is the first known example anywhere in the world of a ship with a movable rudder (see The Town Seal section on the page).
Built with closely spaced Suffolk timbers for extra strength, the Catt was a vessel with a barge type keel, no head, & a stern full on the waterline. They were used to ply the coal trade from Newcastle along the east coast of England down to London.
Around 1722, Daniel Defoe, the author famous for writing Robinson Crusoe, mentions the Ipswich collier ships in A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journeys, vol.1
“They built, also, there so prodigious strong, that it was an ordinary thing for an Ipswich collier, if no disaster happened to him, to reign (as seamen call it) forty or fifty years, and more.”
Defoe also stated that Ipswich had been, in the seventeenth century, the largest producer of collier ships plying the east coast of England, but that unfortunately, the Catts were also responsible for bringing that ’dreadful malady’ the plague to Ipswich.
In 1743, an Ipswich built Catt named The Good Ship Humphry of 300 tons burthen was recorded as being for sale at Lloyd’s Coffee House in Lombard Street, London. She was said to have been capable of carrying twenty keels of coal (a keel being a type of barge used on the River Tyne to transport coal down river to the larger collier ships. The capacity of each keel was, at that time, fixed at twenty one tons, so the Humphry’s capacity would have been around 420 tons).
By the early nineteenth century, the Catts had been replaced by lighter, faster vessels. However, in his History of Ipswich, published in 1830, G R Clarke wrote:
“we remember to have seen one or two of them in our early days”
He describes the Catts as being:
“of large tonnage & standing high above the water”
& added that:
“their hulls were painted black, and with their dingy crew & gigantic bulk, they had a gloomy and terrific appearance.”
Launched at Harwich, Essex, England in April 1694, HMS Ipswich was a full rigged, 70-gun, third rate ship of 1,049 tons, built for the Royal Navy. During 1696, she was part of the combined English & Dutch fleet that patrolled the waters off the coast of France, under Captain George Townsend. From 1722 to 1726 she was commanded by John Balchen (1670 - 1744), later Admiral Sir John Balchen.
She was rebuilt in Portsmouth & relaunched in October 1730; her tonnage now having risen to 1,142.
For three months in 1701, Edward Vernon, later to become an Admiral & also Tory Member of Parliament for Ipswich, served on HMS Ipswich. Nicknamed “Old Grog” because of the waterproof grogham (or grogram) coat he habitually wore (made from silk, wool & mohair), he is probably best remembered for ordering the Navy to dilute its rum with water, which became known as “Grog”. Lemon or lime juice was also added (to help prevent scurvy). In later life he lived at Orwell Park, Nacton.
HMS Ipswich was hulked in 1757 & broken up in 1764.
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Built at Ipswich, Suffolk in 1761, this three-masted, 260 ton vessel is listed in the earliest surviving Lloyds Register dating from 1764. By this time, however, she had already foundered in the North Sea, en-route between Stockholm & London; coming to grief on 6 September 1763 laden with a cargo comprising 390 tons of iron & 2000 planks of wood. The crew were saved.
Built in Great Yarmouth around 1786, the Ipswich was a 320 ton ship purchased by Captain Timothy Mangles, who was then working in the shipyards of Ipswich. He, in partnership with a local banker named Emerson Cornwell, were at that time in the process of establishing a whaling company in the town & the Ipswich, along with another ship - the 380 ton, Whitby built Orwell – were procured for this purpose. Mangles had both ships ‘doubled’, i.e given an extra layer of planking to withstand the pack ice they were likely to encounter.
Both the Ipswich & the Orwell made their maiden whaling voyages to the seas around Greenland in March 1787; sailing from London, but returning to Ipswich with their loads. For the next two years, the Ipswich was again involved in whaling, but then, having found the 1789 season unprofitable, Mangles & Cornwell put a stop to the venture. In 1793 the vessels were put up for sale and the Ipswich was bought by Wilkinson & Co., ship brokers in London. For some years thereafter, the Ipswich was engaged in the Jamaica trade, before returning to whaling from 1802, but now based in Liverpool. Whaling ended in Liverpool in 1823, and the Ipswich was bought by a Plymouth based owner (S. Moates) who had her re-rigged as a brig and involved in trade with North America. What became of the Ipswich is unknown, other than the fact that Lloyd’s Register records that she was “wrecked” in 1842.
The whaling industry in Ipswich lasted a mere six years; from 1787 to 1792. In the following year, the plant for rendering down the blubber at the Nova Scotia yard on the Orwell (the site of today’s West Bank Terminal) was shut down.
Two sister schooners of 79 tons were built in Ipswich in 1823, probably by John Bayley, and they were both destined for brewery owners for use in the coastal trade along eastern England. They were the Ipswich for John Cobbold & Co. (see The Cobbold Family on the Ipswich, England page), and the John & Henry for Brown & Co. (a Norfolk brewery just outside Norwich). John Cobbold & Co. acquired the John & Henry in 1830 and it seems eventually to have replaced the Ipswich since we have no further information on that schooner after 1838, the last time she is recorded in Lloyd’s Register. The John & Henry continued in the service of John Cobbold & Co. until 1847.
Built by George Bayley for the Ipswich Steam Navigation Company, the steamer Ipswich, 103 tons, was launched in September 1825, before being taken to London for her engines to be installed.
After a trial sea trip, the Ipswich made her first scheduled voyage in April 1826 from Ipswich to London Bridge; a trip that took around 11 hours to complete. Thereafter, the Ipswich made weekly sailings from spring to autumn between Ipswich & the Thames, calling at Harwich on route & carrying both cargo & passengers. A sister steamer, the Suffolk also entered service later that same year, plying the same route.
In 1828 the Ipswich was bought by her builder, George Bayley, &, after being almost completely rebuilt, returned to service in April 1831; initially making weekly trips from Ipswich to London, which were increased to twice weekly soon afterwards. She continued in this service until August 1839, when her owners, now known as the Ipswich Steam Packet Company, replaced her with a new vessel called the Orwell.
The Ipswich was sold to new owners based in London & Jamaica, who employed her in service across the Atlantic. The last record of her is in the Lloyd’s Register of 1845, so she was probably broken up that year or soon after.
The Ipswich was not the first steamer to operate out of the town. In 1815, a steamer named the Orwell (not the same vessel mentioned above) had commenced sailings between Ipswich & Harwich. This service, however, lasted only a few months & it would be another 11 years before the Ipswich began her regular trips from the port.
Built in 1827, the sailing barges Ipswich Trader (79 tons net) & her sister vessel Suffolk Trader (80 tons net) were built by George Bayley at his yard in St Peter's parish. They were built for Ipswich & Suffolk Trade Vessels, which was formed by Samuel & Henry Alexander who were shareholders in the Ipswich Steam Navigation Company. From 1827 they offered regular goods carrying sailings three times a week to London, along with as many as twelve other sailing vessels. Later the company name was changed to Suffolk & Norfolk Traders.
The last record we can find for the Ipswich Trader is in February 1844 when a licence for the use of fire and lighting on the sailing barge was issued by the East & West India Dock Co. in London. She is not in Lloyd’s Register for 1845, so had probably been broken up by that year.
A 234 ton Barque named Ipswich was built for a Jersey based owner in 1845 by William Bayley & Company at their new yard in the recently opened Wet Dock in Ipswich. This barque was sold to a Hartlepool company in 1861, and Lloyd’s Register indicates that she was broken up in 1875.
***You may have noticed, as you read the details of the various ships built in Suffolk, that the name Bayley occurs frequently. William Bayley, along with his relative John Bayley (exact relationship uncertain) acquired a shipyard at the Nova Scotia yard on the Orwell in 1764. Upon John’s death in 1785, his widow, Elizabeth, took over the yard; William having by this time established a separate yard nearby. John & Elizabeth’s son George soon took over management of the yard, with two of his brothers - Philip & Jabez - later joining the firm. Jabez Bayley (1771 -1834) was to become probably the most famous shipbuilder in Ipswich; at various times owning yards in Nova Scotia, Halifax, St. Peter’s & St.Clement’s. Other descendants of the two original Bayleys, confusingly often also named William or George, continued shipbuilding in Ipswich into the second half of the nineteenth century. For more information on the Bayley family, see The Shipyards of Ipswich section on the Ipswich England page.***
This was a typical Thames Barge of 59 tons built in Ipswich in 1864. (The rigging of a Thames Barge is referred to as “Spritsail”, the “sprit” being a spar suspended from the main mast at an angle of about 30° from the vertical, near to the mast’s foot.) The original owner was Charles Andrews of Stoke, Ipswich, and the ship continued to work out of that port under subsequent owners. Skipper and owner George Wright of Chelmondiston, died in a drowning accident on the River Orwell in 1916. In 1924 his family sold the barge to Alfred Sully & Co. of London, and this company still retained ownership in 1938. Some time after World War II the Pride of Ipswich was converted into a yacht, but by 1953 she had been withdrawn from sailing and was used as a barge house. In the late 1950s she was reported to be a hulk.
Bow badge of Thames Barge Pride of Ipswich
Four lifeboats built during the nineteenth century have been called Ipswich, although only one was built in the town.
The first, launched in 1821, was designed by Richard Hall Gower & built by Jabez Bayley at the St.Peter’s yard. Gower’s design was unlike that of any other lifeboat at the time; being 30 feet long, of light construction, with six oars & rigged with spritsails on two short masts. Christened the Ipswich Life Boat, she was stationed at Languard Fort near Felixstowe at the mouth of the River Orwell.
The Ipswich was only called into action once, as far as is known, & even after being refitted was deemed to be inefficient by the Suffolk Shipwreck Association in 1825. She was converted to a yacht & advertised for sale in 1827.
The other three lifeboats to bear the name Ipswich were all built by Forrestts of Limehouse, London, & were all assigned to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station at Thorpeness on the Suffolk coast. The first of these was paid for by an appeal in Ipswich & was brought to the town & launched in May 1862 from the Promenade; watched by a crowd estimated to be over 25,000 strong. The Ipswich was then taken up the coast to Thorpeness where she served until 1870. She was then replaced with another craft that had been built in 1866 & originally named Leicester, which had previously been stationed at Gorleston, Norfolk. When she was moved to Thorpeness she underwent the name change to Ipswich. This vessel remained there for only three years before being transferred to Skegness. She was replaced with a third boat named Ipswich, which served at Thorpeness until 1890; at which time she was replaced by a vessel named the Christopher North Graham. Thorpeness Lifeboat Station was closed down in 1900.
There were two steamships named Ipswich run by the Great Eastern Railway (GER).
The first, the PS Ipswich, was built in 1864 at Cubitt Town, London, of 76 tons (gross) and was deployed on the Ipswich-Harwich service until 1873 when she was transferred to the Lowestoft Railway & Harbour Co., which was owned by the GER. The steamship was reduced to harbour use only because of her poor condition, and finally broken up in 1881.
The second, the SS Ipswich, was built by Earles of Hull in 1883. This 1,067 ton steamship was in use on the Harwich to Antwerp service. In 1906 she was sold to J.Constant of Harwich and then, in 1908, to the Shah Steam Navigation Company in Bombay. She was broken up in Bombay in May 1909.
The Great Eastern Railway was formed in 1862, when a number of small railway companies merged. Serving towns throughout East Anglia, the GER also ran a number of ferries; initially from Harwich to Rotterdam & Antwerp, but later also to Hamburg & the Hook of Holland.
Launched in 1896, this trawler of 162 tons named ST (Steam Tug) Ipswich was built by Mackie & Thomson at Govan, Scotland. Initially owned by Hagerup, Doughty & Co Ltd of Grimsby, she was transferred to Consolidated Steam Fishing & Ice Co Ltd, Grimsby on the formation of that company in 1906. Requisitioned as a minesweeper during the First World War, she returned to her owners at the war’s end, before being transferred to Lowestoft in 1920 & registered as LT128. After being directed to Fleetwood under wartime control in 1940, she underwent more changes of ownership, before being sold to BISCO in 1953. She was broken up at Grays, Essex in that same year.
The 179 tons bucket dredger Ipswich was built by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd at Port Glasgow in 1897. She was used by the Ipswich Docks Commission, and was broken up in 1937.
A horse-drawn narrowboat built in 1912 by Fellows, Morton & Clayton at Saltley Dock, Birmingham. “Narrowboats” are of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of the United Kingdom, where many locks and bridges have a minimum width of 7 feet . The overall length of the Ipswich is 70.67 feet (21.54 metres) with a beam (breadth) of 7.05 feet (2.15 metres). She is an iron composite fore decked boat that was employed on the Grand Union Canal carrying general cargo between Birmingham and London. In 1959 she was transferred to British Waterways engineering department for use as a canal maintenance boat. In 1981 she was converted to a houseboat. After several changes of ownership, the vessel was bought by her present owner in 2013 and a programme of restoration begun at Stockton Dry Dock. The Ipswich is registered by the National Historic Ships UK.
Reference can be found to the Ipswich as a “butty” or “buttyboat”. (The term “butty” is derived from a dialect word meaning a “booty companion”, someone who shares ill-gotten gains, ultimately becoming a “buddy”.) As steam and diesel progressively replaced the tow-horse in the early years of the 20th century, it became possible to move even more cargo with fewer hands by towing a second, unpowered boat. Although there was no longer a horse to maintain, the butty had to be steered while being towed. The butty boatman could lengthen or shorten the towline as needed, and on a wide canal, such as the Grand Union Canal, the buttyboat could be roped side by side with the towing boat.
A wooden ketch of 116 tons built in 1912 by J & W B Harvey of Littlehampton. This sailing vessel was operated by Wynnfield Shipping Co., Ipswich. It was stopped & sunk 15 miles NE of Barfleur en route from Caen to Poole on 31 March 1917 by the U-boat UB 32.
This is a motor yacht of timber carvel construction built by Tom Howard of Maldon in 1914. She was built as an auxiliary ketch and presently has a 6 cylinder Ford diesel engine installed in 2000. The overall length of the Lurline of Ipswich is 37 feet (11.28 metres) with a beam (breadth) of 9 feet (2.74 metres), and the gross tonnage is 11.58 (photograph below). She was originally named only Lurline, but was renamed Lurline of Ipswich because of the greater renown of the luxury liners of the American Matson Lines that also bore this name. This unusual name is derived from a poetic variation of Lorelei, the Rhine river siren. William Matson struck up a friendship with Claus Spreckels, a German-born self-made American industrial magnate in California, who financed many of Matson’s ships. The name Lurline was first used for his ships in 1871 and the SS Lurline was the third Matson Lines vessel to hold that name from 1932 to 1963.
The Lurline of Ipswich assisted at the Dunkirk evacuation during the Second World War, and regularly returns to Dunkirk as a member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. She has been in the same ownership since 1985, and took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Regatta on the River Thames, London, in 2012. The vessel is registered by the National Historic Ships UK.
The 484 tons Ipswich Trader was built in 1922 by FW Horlock of Lowestoft, who also owned her. She was sold to Duff Herbert Mitchel in 1946 & renamed Veronica Tennant. This company managed steamships operating out of Port Dinorwic (now Y Felinheli) in the Menai Strait, North Wales, carrying slate from the quarries. In 1952 she was sold to the Dinorwic Slate Quarries Co, retaining her name. She was broken up in Llanelli, Wales, in November 1954.
Picture supplied by Brian Warner
This 32 foot motor yacht was launched at Ipswich in January 1935 by Charles Henry Fox, who designed and registered this class of yacht as the Gippeswyk standard cruiser in 1934. However, nothing further is recorded of its class after the initial advertising campaign, so it is assumed that no more were made. Nevertheless, the yacht was still around in March 1939, but the name was now spelt as Gyppeswyk. We do not know whether this was a conscious spelling change, but we are inclined to think that the earlier spelling was a printing error on the part of the publications. The outbreak of World War II in 1939 brought an end to this yacht. Fox’s shipyard was commissioned by the Admiralty to produce whalers and sailing cutters for training young seamen. It is presumed that the Gyppeswyk was broken up and its material used for the war effort. The last traditional wooden boat was built at Fox’s in 1965.
The shipbuilding company “Charles H. Fox & Son” was established at Ipswich in 1927. His son and grandson followed Charles Fox into the shipbuilding business. In 1974 Fox’s ceased to be a family business when the firm was sold. It has since passed through several ownerships, but the name is preserved in Fox’s Marina & Boatyard on the River Orwell.
These five cargo ships were operated by the Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV of the Netherlands between 1960 and 1976. This company was a joint venture established in 1959 by Hoekstra of Rotterdam and Argo Reederei Richard Adler & Söhne of Germany. The latter was the smallest of the four major traditional shipping companies in Bremen. The Adler family had run the company since 1933 and also became owners of the Adler Werft shipyard in Bremen. The ships operated by the Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn remained under the ownership of Argo Reederei Richard Adler & Söhne. Following the death of Richard Adler in 1961, his sons went their own way and the company began to decline. In 1976 the Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV was dissolved, and the parent organisation ceased to operate as a shipping company in 2002.
Ipswich Pioneer: Built by Lürssen Werft of Bremen in 1955 and launched as Meise, this cargo ship of 649 tons was originally owned by Argo Redeerei Richard Adler & Söhne. She was transferred to Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV in 1960, becoming its first ship, and was renamed Ipswich Pioneer under the Dutch flag. In 1968 she was transferred back to Argo Redeerei Richard Adler & Söhne and renamed Pirol under the German flag. She was sold to a Yugoslav company in 1969 and became Vela Luka, changing ownership as that country broke apart in the 1990s, but retaining the same name until 1998 when she became Ecomar. She ended up in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but in 2002 was sold again and was renamed, said to be flying under the flag of the USA. Reported lost on 1 April 2003.
Ipswich Progress: Also built by Lürssen of Bremen in 1955, and owned by Argo Redeerei Richard Adler & Söhne, she was originally called Fink with a tonnage of 649. She was transferred to Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV in 1961 and renamed Ipswich Progress under the Dutch flag. Sold to James Smith & Zonen, Rotterdam, in 1971 and renamed Bernisse, she was sold to a Lebanese owner in 1982 and underwent her final name change to Petra. She had various Lebanese owners until September 1995 when the Petra was sold to Lebanese shipbreakers. She was broken up at Tripoli, Lebanon, in December 1995.
Ipswich Purpose: Built by Adler Werft of Bremen in 1955 and owned by Argo Redeerei Richard Adler & Söhne, this vessel of 662 tons was originally launched with the name Pirol under the German flag. Transferred to Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV in 1964, she became Ipswich Purpose under the Dutch flag for ten years, before being sold to Panamanian owners and registered in Panama City in 1974, where she was renamed Rico. She foundered 55 miles northeast of Alexandria, Egypt, in October 1977 and was deserted, being left to decay there.
Ipswich Progress II: Built by Adler Werft of Bremen in 1961, this cargo ship of 499 tons was initially given the name Sperber by her owners, Argo Reederei Richard Adler & Söhne, sailing under the German flag. Transferred to Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV in 1971, she was renamed Ipswich Progress II, before being sold and reregistered as Ginerva in Panama City in 1974. In May 1976 she was wrecked off the coast of Tunisia, after a collision with a ship called the Mascara.
Ipswich Pioneer II: Built by Krögerwerft GmbH of Rendsburg, Germany, in August 1973 for Argo Reederei Richard Adler & Söhne under the name of Aquila. This Roll On Roll Off ferry of 8,552 tons soon became Ipswich Pioneer II in December 1973 when she was transferred to Rotterdam-Ipswich Lijn NV. From 1976 to 1979 she was chartered and renamed Ehrenfels (1976), then Nahost Pionier (1977), reverting to Aquila in 1979 when she returned to Argo Reederei Richard Adler & Söhne. She was sold in 1980 to a French company but retained the name Aquila whilst operating between Marseilles and North Africa. In 1989 she was chartered for a short period and took the name Sea Road, reverting to Aquila in November 1989 when she came off charter. In October 1990 she was sold to the Societa Marittima Siciliano in Palermo, Sicily, and renamed Vomero. In 1995 she was sold to the Panamanian company Daesos SA, but retained her name whilst operating on charter except in 1999 when she was given the name Don Lupe for one charter, reverting to Vomero later that year. In March 2001 she was sold to the Italian shipping line Eurotrasporti Marittimi Catanesi of Naples, renamed Luigi Cozza and used on the route between Catania, Sicily, and Salerno, mainland Italy. In June 2003 she was sold for scrapping and renamed Vomero yet again. She was broken up in February 2004 at Aliya, Turkey.Top of Page
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This motor towboat was built in 1956 at the Damen Shipyards at Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Netherlands, on the River Bemeden-Merwede, a branch of the River Rhine, 10 miles east of Dordrecht. Her dimensions are 12.15 metres (39’ 1o”) in length with a beam of 3.16 Metres (10’ 4”).
She has operated continually in the Netherlands since she was launched in July 1956 and first named Stella Maris for VOF Bergen op Zoomsche Towing at Bergen op Zoom. She was bought in January 1960 by HL & L Muller at Dordrecht and renamed And Avant 29. Sold again in March 1997 and July 1999, she retained her name each time, to HD Falkeisen at Muiden on the Zuiderzee and A de Jager, Amsterdam respectively. On 2 October 2002 she was sold and renamed Ipswicht to M&J Bekkers at Egmond aam Zee on the North Sea coast.
This cargo ship of 1,373 tons was built by Nobiskrug at Rendsburg, Germany in 1957 as Helga Russ. Renamed Leidsegracht in 1970, she was bought by Cloud Shipping Co Ltd of Famagusta, Cyprus in 1973 & became the Gulf Ipswich. She underwent two subsequent name changes in 1977, to Moon, then Ashanti when sold to Tema SS Company of Takoradi, Ghana, before being broken up in September 1983 at Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht in the Netherlands.
As the name suggests, this tanker of 1,103 tons was built for the Esso Petroleum Company in 1960 by JL Thompson, North Sands, Sunderland. Sold to Maldives Shipping Ltd in 1981, she underwent three name & owner changes in the Maldives; Maldive Valour (1981), Fulidhoo (1984) & Falcon 2 (1989), before being scrapped in India in December 1997.
Built at the Appledore shipyards in Devon in 1979 for Ellerman Lines UK, the City of Ipswich was a containership of 1,599 tons. She was chartered to Manchester Liners Ltd in 1981, when she was briefly renamed Manchester Fulmar, before reverting to City of Ipswich two years later. She was again renamed as Liverpool Star in 1984, had another brief stint as City of Ipswich in 1991, before finally becoming Pel Mariner later that same year. She was involved in a collision with the Pel Ranger & sank near the island of Bozcaada in the Aegean Sea in July 1999.
Built in 1980 by Karlskronavarvet of Karlskrona, Sweden as Balder Dona, this Roll On Roll Off cargo ship of 6,568 tons was subsequently renamed Rodona in July 1984 & became Ipswich Way in 2003. In June 2009 she was sold to Istanbul Lines & registered in Turkey under the name Istanbul N.
The 16,236 ton containship Contship Ipswich was built in 1990 by A.G. Weser Seebeckwerft of Bremerhaven, Germany for the the global container carriers Contship Containerlines, whose headquarters were at Ipswich until 2003. Launched as Contship Sydney, she soon became Contship Ipswich (1990). Since 1995 she has gone through several name changes; Direct Currawong (1995), Conti Sydney (1998), MSC Senegal (1999), MSC Sydney (2003) & Conti Sydney again (2004). She was sold for demolition and broken up at Xinhui, China, in March 2013.
This 38,190 ton bulk carrier was built in 2014 at the Shimanami shipyard in Imabari, Japan, for the owners Pacific Basin Shipping Limited in Hong Kong and was originally named Ocean Journey (see photograph, left). In April 2021 she was sold to Ipswich Bay Shipping Ltd (British Virgin Islands) and renamed Ipswich Bay. Her home port remains Hong Kong under whose flag she still sails. We have no idea if there is any connection with the only Ipswich Bay we know of, which is in Massachusetts, USA. Nor are the ultimate owners of that company known.
A Class B sailing vessel that frequents the North Sea coastline and since 2007 has often been moored at Ipswich Marina. She is 12 metres in length and 2 metres in width, and her speed is recorded as between 7.3 to 8.3 knots. Her displacement is 45 tonnes. Antares, the 16th brightest star in the heavens, is a popular name for yachts and ships, hence this one is registered as Antares of Ipswich.
She was originally built in Germany as the Antares in 1945/46 as a double-ended Gaff schooner at the Brauer Yard, Vegesack, Bremen, on the River Elbe. The Antares was used as a fishing boat and later converted to recreational use in the 1960s, and used for youth charters on the inland lakes of the Netherlands. She was bought by her current owner in 1997 and brought to the UK where she underwent major refits in 1997/98 and 2006/7 when she moved to Ipswich Marina as her home port. The Antares of Ipswich is used as an example yacht in the Wikipedia article on “Yachting” with a photograph of her in Ipswich Marina. Sold in 2011 to a French owner, she seems to have retained this name. In early 2017 recorded berthed at Eastbourne Marina, Sussex.
The name Antares of Ipswich is also borne by a motor cruiser currently up for sale in 2019 at Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington, Suffolk, England (see photograph, right). First noted under this name in 2010, she is a Humber 42, designed by John Bennett, with a fibreglass body. Built in 1988 by the F. Booker Marine at Dodworth near Barnsley, she is 44 ft in length with a beam of 12 ft, and two engines providing a total of 760 hp. She has a cruising speed of 18 knots to a maximum of 23 knots. There are five berths in three cabins.
In 1990-91 Josh Hall of the United Kingdom finished third in his class in the BOC Round the World Challenge aboard the 50 foot New Spirit of Ipswich. The BOC Challenge was sponsored by the British Oxygen Company and was a solo round the world sailing competition for monohulls held every four years. Today it is known as the Velux 5 Oceans Race. In 1990-91 it started from Newport, Rhode Island, with three stops at Cape Town, Sydney, Punta del Este (Uruguay), before returning to Newport. Josh Hall was in Class 2: boats 40 to 50 feet (12.2-15.2 m) long. The New Spirit of Ipswich covered the distance in 157 days at an average speed of 7.16 knots. Josh then went on to win the 1991 BOC Transatlantic Challenge. Presumably the name Spirit of Ipswich was already in use, but we have been unable to confirm this (see next section below).
Josh Hall, from Ipswich, England, was born in 1963 into a family of sailors and he grew up racing around the shores of England. He lives at Shotley, Suffolk, and is now heavily involved in the organisation side of Round the World Racing.
The boat itself is a 50 foot sloop, with a displacement of 15.4 tonnes, designed by Rodger Martin and built in 1985/86 at Rhode Island by the American Mike Plant. In 1986-87 Mike Plant won the Class 2 BOC Challenge with the boat under the name Airco Distributor in a time of 157 days. Josh Hall then acquired the boat and renamed it. In 1994-95 “Niah” Vaughan of Whitehaven sailed it in the BOC Challenge under the name of Jimroda II, finishing third in 166 days. Since open ocean racing is an expensive activity, there have been several name changes dependent upon the sponsor; these have been as follows with the skipper’s name in brackets: Airco Distributor 1986-87 (Mike Plant); Dogwatch A 1987-89 (Nigell Burgess); New Spirit of Ipswich 1989-94 (Josh Hall); Jimroda II 1994-97 (Chaniah Vaughan); Albright Star 1997-2000 (Arnet Taylor); Olympian Challenger 2000-03; Labesfal 2003-2004; Olympian Challenger 2004-07; Vail Williams 2007-2009 (all three by Steve White). Except for Mike Plant and Arnet Taylor, who were Americans, all the other skippers were from Great Britain. In all the boat took part in 3 Round the World, 20 Trans-Atlantic and many other open ocean races, before being retired and sold in 2010. She was renamed the Maisey Star and made ready for charter hire from Cardiff, Wales. Although primarily a racing boat, she can also be hired for cruising. In 2013 she was rumoured to be moored at Hoo Marina at Rochester in Kent. However, in November 2017 she was reported at Sotogrande in the south of Spain, “in a bad state and seemingly abandoned”.
As a yacht name, the Spirit of Ipswich was used by Josh Hall in his 34 foot racing yacht in the 1988 OSTAR. This is the acronym for the Original Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race held every four years since 1960. (The name of the event has changed several times because of changes in sponsorship.) We know nothing more about this yacht other than it was a monohull. Josh Hall acquired a new 50 foot racing yacht in 1989 which he named the New Spirit of Ipswich (see section above).
However, the name Spirit of Ipswich is presently used by a yacht anchored at Neptune Marina, Coprolite Street, Ipswich, England. The yacht model is a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS (Deck Saloon), possibly the most popular of the Jeanneau yachts. Her dimensions are 41’ 0” x 13’ 5” (12.50 x 4.09 metres) and she weighs 3.35 tonnes. This model has been made since 1992 by the Chantier Jeanneau, a French manufacturer of motor boats and yachts. The original boat builder was Henri Jeanneau who established one of the largest shipyards in France in 1957. It has been part of the Beneteau group since 1995.
It is not clear who the present owner is or when this particular yacht was built. She seems to have been brought to Ipswich by the Beneteau group who then gave her the name Spirit of Ipswich. She is recorded with this name participating in the annual Round the Island (Isle of Wight) race in 2009. In 2015 she was advertised by ‘Sailing Action’ as a yacht available for charter on a daily basis or for longer trips, mainly for corporate entertainment. She is licensed for up to eight people on board, including the captain. ‘Sailing Action’, based at East Bergholt in Suffolk, is a specialist operator and sailing club that organises participation in and excursions to UK and Mediterranean regatta events involving traditional yachts.
A fast cruising yacht built in 2003 by the Wauquiez shipyard at Neuville-en-Ferrain, near to Lille, in northern France. She is a Centurion 45 class designed by Ed Dubois. Her dimensions are 46’ 2” x 13’ 4” (14.08 x 4.06 metres) and she weighs 3.8 tons. The name “Arwen” is a fictional female character in Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”. We presume her original owners had some connection with Ipswich, but she was kept in Corfu, and only sailed back to France in 2015 where she was sold that year. She has retained the name and still sails under the flag of the United Kingdom. In early 2017 the Arwen of Ipswich was berthed at Eastbourne Marina, Sussex, but by November 2018 she was reported as sailing out of Bilbao in northern Spain. In September 2021 she was reported cruising in the Adriatic using Dubrovnik, Croatia, as her home port.
In June 2009 an Access 303 dinghy named Gyppeswyk was launched by The Woolverstone Project charity (see photo, right). This dinghy was obtained from money raised by four Ipswich Rotary clubs (Wolsey, Ipswich, East and Orwell). The Woolverstone Project is officially called the “East Anglian Sailing for Persons with Disabilities Trust”. This is a charity which provides sailing opportunities and tuition for physically and mentally disabled people, active since 1994. The charity is based at the Alton Water Sports Centre on the reservoir of that name, ideal for windsurfing and sailing, as well as close to the River Orwell at the village of Woolverstone.
The Access 303 (now known as Hansa 303) is a single or two crew sailing keelboat, which is recognised by the International Sailing Federation as an international class. It is made of fibreglass and has a length of 3.03m (9’11”), a beam of 1.35m (4’5”) and a weight of 116 kg. It is typically regarded as being a beginner’s dinghy. It has a joystick control, as well as a high boom and the setup whereby the occupants are sat facing forwards. The 303 has a low ballast and high sides, weighted to avoid capsizing. It also has electric servo-assisted drives. All these features make it suitable for people with physical disabilities.
Chris Mitchell, the designer of the Access Class of dinghies, spent his youth on the wide expanse of Port Phillip Bay at Melbourne, Australia. Chris spent time in South East Asia, where he tried to encourage the local people to take up sailing by designing a dinghy that had the stability to provide them with the confidence they needed to sail. With the belief that sailing should be accessible to all whatever their abilities, Chris returned to Australia in 1992 with the forerunner of his future dinghy in mind. He established the Access Dinghy Sailing Systems at the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong in 1992. The name of the company indicated his desire to assist the disabled to take up the sport and Mitchell’s designs were continually refined to make it possible for people of any age and ability to go sailing without fear. As such, the boats were adopted by disabled sailing organisations internationally. The Access 303 was designed in 1998 and given international racing recognition in 2005. In 2013 Chris Mitchell changed the name of his company to Hansa Sailing Systems in order to shift its focus to the mainstream sailing market.
The two yachts below are registered in the UK in 2015, but we have no other information about them, other than that shown.
Calyx of Ipswich - A yacht previously at the Woodbridge Cruising Club, Suffolk; from 2009 she was berthed at Ipswich Marina. This is a cutter with Bermuda rig, the typical configuration for most modern sailing boats. She was built in 1970 by Porter & Haylett Ltd at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads as Bethulie Too. Her dimensions are 28’ 6” x 9’ 0” (8.7 x 2.75 metres) with a displacement of 8 tonnes.
Kiki of Ipswich - A yacht built in 2014, dimensions 12m x 4m. Sold in 2017 and renamed Tiki. Now berthed at Brundall Bay Marina on the River Yare, Norfolk.
In addition to the above, there are four modern motor boats containing the name Ipswich to be found on the inland waterways and lakes of Great Britain.
Ipswich 1970s: A narrowboat built in the 1970s by Rugby Boatbuilders, located on the North Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Wharf in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire. The overall length is 56 feet (17.06 metres) with a beam (breadth) of 6 feet 9 inches (2.07 metres). She has a metal hull. She is registered as a motor boat with the Canal & River Trust for use on the Inland Waterways of England, Scotland and Wales. Until 2012 this boat was named Pan. Once the Ipswich - 1912 (see above) is completely restored for canal use, this boat may have to be renamed since duplicate names are not allowed with operational craft.
Janine: Ipswich 1978: A motor cruiser built in 1978 by Birchwood Boats of Huthwaite, Nottingham. This was for use on the inland waterways and lakes of Britain. The design class is known as the Birchwood 33 with a car-type canopy, centre cockpit and an inboard engine. She has a 6 berth accommodation in 3 cabins. Her dimensions are 33’ 6” x 11’ (10.2 x 3.4 metres). Originally named Birchmoss, she was privately owned. When sold in 1992 she was renamed Janine:Ipswich since she was then frequently used on The Broads. When sold again in 2011 she just retained the name Janine. As at 2019 she is up for sale and berthed at St Olave’s Marina, Great Yarmouth.
Shenandoah: Ipswich 1984: A motor cruiser built in 1984 by Fairline Boats of Oundle on the River Nene in Northamptonshire. This was for use on the inland waterways and lakes of Britain. The design class is known as the Fairline Mirage 29 with a car-type canopy, aft cockpit and an inboard engine. She has a 6 berth accommodation in 3 cabins. Her dimensions are 28’ 6” x 10’ 2” (8.7 x 3.1 metres). She was used on The Broads and was privately owned until 1999, when sold to the Norfolk Yacht Agency at Horning on the River Bure in Norfolk. Last seen in 1999, so may no longer be operative.
Tringa of Ipswich 2003: Built in 2003 by Linssen Yachts, Maasbracht, Netherlands, this is a Grand Sturdy 410 AC Dutch Steel Cruiser for use on the inland waterways of the UK and Europe. She has a car-type canopy, aft cockpit and an inboard diesel 145hp engine, with a 3 berth accommodation in 2 cabins. Her dimensions are 41’ 2” x 13’ 9” (12.55 x 4.2 metres). The Tringa of Ipswich was registered with the Environment Authority (Thames Region) for use on the inland waterways of the UK. The name Tringa has been in use since 1902 when the William Fife yard at Fairlie on the River Clyde built the classic yacht of this name, which derives from the scientific description for the common redshank (Tringa totanus), a typical wader in European waters. The suffix “of Ipswich” was used to distinguish the vessel from others of that name. We also believe that the owners may have been Tringa Limited, a Private Limited Company of consultant engineers based in Ipswich, England. As at 2015 the vessel had been sold by the owners and renamed just Tringa. She is berthed at Shepperton Marina and is up for sale.
A Thames sailing barge was a type of commercial sailing boat common on the River Thames in London in the 19th century. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to the Thames Estuary and the estuaries of eastern England with their shallow waters and narrow rivers. The barges could float in as little as 3 feet (1 m) of water and could dry out in the tidal waters without heeling over. Furthermore, unlike most sailing craft, these barges could sail completely unballasted; a major saving in labour and time. By the 1890s the development of the Thames sailing barge was at its peak with the small coasters built in Ipswich and Harwich developing a style of their own.
Having no engines, barges were in particular demand in both World Wars for carrying ammunition and explosives as there was no risk of sparks to the dangerous cargo, their draught gave them access to shallow coastal waters and the U-boat captains would not waste their torpedoes on what they thought was a mere sailing barge with a cargo of minimal value.
After the Second World War the development of the motor barge with the masts and sails removed, and larger lorries on improved roads led to the demise of the Thames sailing barge as a trading vessel. By 1954 the fleet had dwindled to 34 sailing barges. In the 1960s and 1970s the development of containers finally killed off coasting work. By 1960 there were only five Ipswich barges left, and most were finally sold that year. The last barge owned in Ipswich as an active sail trader was Spinaway C, sold in 1967.
However, some enthusiasts did not want to see the barges broken up and many were re-rigged in the mid 1960s and began a new lease of life carrying people on weekend charters in place of the cargoes they had carried with the holds being converted into basic cabins. Today, a small number of sailing barges remain, converted to pleasure craft and commonly sailed in the annual races which take place on the Thames Estuary and rivers of eastern England. These barge races (which bargemen always called Matches) developed from the competitive nature of barge sailing when bargemen did actually race each other to get to port first for the best cargo. Formal Matches were begun in 1863 on the Thames and Medway rivers, and were not discontinued until 1963. However, they have been reinstituted since then, and the Thames Barge Match is now considered the world’s second oldest sailing race after the America’s Cup.
The port of registry was not necessarily the place where the vessel was built, e.g. the last barge built at Ipswich in 1909, was registered in London and hence is normally referred to as the Ardwina of London. Likewise, some of those registered at Ipswich were built elsewhere. There were at least 118 barges built at Ipswich from 1841 (the Primus of Harwich) to 1909; of these 60 were registered in Ipswich. The total number of Thames barges registered at Ipswich was 87; of the other 27 built elsewhere, nine were constructed at Harwich. The two dockside Ipswich grain and agricultural firms of R. & W. Paul and Cranfield Bros. Ltd owned 29 and 8 of these respectively.
There are a few Thames Barges still in existence that are known as “of Ipswich”. Although not technically part of their registered names, in newspaper and race match reports this appellation is invariably added. The only Thames Barge that had this as part of its registered name was the spritsail Pride of Ipswich, and this is covered separately in its chronological order (1864) above. We include brief details of the remaining barges as follows.
May of Ipswich: Built of wood at Harwich in 1891 by J. & H. Cann for Cranfield Bros Ltd of Ipswich. This sailing barge of 57 tons remained active and was sold in 1964 to Silvertown Services Ltd (Tate & Lyle) based at St Katharine Docks on the Thames. She was used for occasional trade and company charter under sail, but gained better renown as a successful racing barge from 1972 to 1993. The May of Ipswich was based at Pin Mill on the River Orwell, Suffolk, and used for charter cruises. In 2011 she was sold into private hands. In June 2012 she was selected to take part in the Avenue of Sail to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
Gerald Gadd and his wife Connie, who bought the May in 2011, renovated parts of the barge and continued to use her for charter from out of Pin Mill. Unfortunately, in January 2020, Connie lost her husband Gerald to cancer and became the sole owner of the May. Helen Swift, Jane Harman and Connie Gadd are all barge skipper wives and had known each other for years. Some months later, Helen contacted Connie with an idea to see if there was something they could do with the barge.
The three women decided to undertake the task of restoring the barge back to her former glory so she could be used as a floating bakery. The May will be unofficially known as the ‘Bread and Roses Barge’ and will become a haven for women who have suffered a similar tragic trauma by inviting them to come aboard and bake bread together. The bread, cakes and biscuits that have been baked on board will be available for purchase when the May arrives at various ports along the East coast. A professional barge skipper and mate are to be employed and the barge will have a regular route throughout the year.
Felix of Ipswich: Built of wood at Harwich in 1891 by J. & H. Cann, this 68 ton sailing barge was acquired by Cranfield Bros Ltd of Ipswich in 1930. In 1954 she became a motor barge under the ownership of Lapthorn & Co. of Hoo in Kent on the River Thames. She was sold in 1972 and re-rigged once again as a non trading sailing barge on the Thames under various owners, mainly out of St Katharines Yacht Marina. In 2008 she was moved to Hoo Saltings in Kent where she has remained inactive and is somewhat derelict in the marshes.
Spinaway C of Ipswich: Built in 1899 by Orvis & Fuller at their St Clements shipyard, Ipswich, this 57 ton sailing barge was acquired by Cranfield Bros Ltd of Ipswich in 1912, and was one of the last barges still working at Ipswich when she was sold in 1967 and converted to a sailing yacht. In 1963 the Spinaway C of Ipswich won the Thames Barge Match and came second in the Medway Match. She is presently inactive, seemingly abandoned at the Hoo Saltings in Kent.
Tollesbury of Ipswich: One of the more famous of the Thames barges and listed on the National Historic Ships Register. Tollesbury is a fishing village in Essex, on a tributary of the River Blackwater, which was a loading port for Thames barges. It was after this village that she was named by her first owner, George Fisher of the ‘Plough and Sail’ pub in Tollesbury. She was built of wood in 1901 at H. Felton’s shipyard at Sandwich in Kent. This 70 ton Thames spritsail barge was later bought by R. & W. Paul of Ipswich and registered there in 1912. Her skipper at the time was Lemon Webb who sailed her around the south coast and across the channel, several times single-handed.
She is one of the Dunkirk “Little Ships”. Sixteen Thames Barges, five of them belonging to R. & W. Paul, were among those that sailed to Dunkirk to help evacuate Allied troops from the beaches *(see end of this section). In May 1940 Lemon Webb and his young lad of nineteen were sailing Tollesbury up the Thames when a naval launch came alongside and instructed them to proceed to a jetty for orders. There, the two were given the choice to leave the ship or to volunteer to help evacuate the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. Neither of them hesitated, so Tollesbury was commandeered as part of Operation Dynamo and sailed across the channel to Dunkirk. During the crossing they endured constant air attacks, but they eventually carried 273 soldiers off the beaches (see right).
War-time illustration of the Tollesbury at Dunkirk.
After the war, the Tollesbury continued in trade under sail until 1950 when her first engine was installed. She ceased trading in 1965 to become a private yacht. By 1978 she was a moored at Pin Mill, on the River Orwell, as a houseboat. In 1989 she underwent extensive renovation at Ipswich Dock in preparation for the 1990 celebrations of Dunkirk. Following this, she became a floating pub at Millwall Dock on the Thames in London. However, she suffered serious damage from the effects of the IRA Docklands bomb in 1996.
Having survived the bombs of Hitler and the IRA, the Tollesbury floating pub mysteriously sank at her moorings in September 2005. She was subsequently raised and laid up at Barking Creek. The Tollesbury came under new ownership in 2011 and the next year received a grant from National Historic Ships UK to assist in a complete restoration of the vessel. Euan Maybank and Rachael Smith, who bought the barge, intended to live in it, but not necessarily as a stationary houseboat. From 2015 to 2019 the Tollesbury was at Faversham, Kent, being restored according to her original Thames Barge specifications and sail plan and, at the same time, the interior was converted into living accommodation. Wishing to be resident in London, in 2019 the couple sailed the Tollesbury to Barking’s Fresh Wharf on the River Roding, a riverside development in the East End of London, where the barge is now moored.
Marjorie of Ipswich: Built of wood in 1902 by Orvis & Fuller at their St Clements shipyard, Ipswich, this 56 ton barge was originally made for R. & W. Paul Ltd, grain merchants at Ipswich. By 1961 she had become a chartered barge based in London. The Marjorie of Ipswich was winner of the Medway Barge Match five times from 2001 to 2006. She is now based on the River Thames at Hoo in Kent.
Ena of Ipswich: Built of wood in 1906 by W. B. McLearon at the Navy Yard, Harwich, Essex. This 73 ton barge was purchased by R. & W. Paul Ltd of Ipswich in 1907 and for her entire working life was owned by that company.
Another one of the Dunkirk “Little Ships”. In May 1940, together with five other Paul’s barges, the Ena sailed to Dunkirk to evacuate troops from the beaches. During the crossing they endured constant air attacks. Finally, the crew was ordered to abandon her on the beach and return to England on a minesweeper. However, men of the Royal Artillery came across the Ena and, although there were no sailors among them, they relaunched her and made it to the Kent coast where a tug took her in tow to Margate. Ena’s skipper, Alfred Page, who had assumed the barge lost, was surprised to be sent from Ipswich to recover her.
Ena worked under sail alone until 1949 when she was converted to a motor barge and continued to trade until 1973. She was then restored to sail by the company and used for corporate hospitality and as their social club, and took part in many barge races. The Ena of Ipswich was deemed surplus to requirements in 2000 and sold to an enthusiast based at Hoo in Kent. She became available for excursions and is now registered with the National Historic Ships UK. As at 2020 the Ena is lying derelict at the Hoo “barge graveyard” (see photo, right) alongside the Felix of Ipswich and Spinaway C of Ipswich. Despite high profile televised efforts to save the barges that have been abandoned at Hoo, it looks as if the wrecks will eventually be broken up by the elements and daily tides.
Jock of Ipswich: Built of wood at Ipswich in 1908 for the millers R. & W. Paul, this 86 ton sailing barge was converted to a motor barge in 1955. In 1973 she was bought by the general construction company Taylor Woodrow, re-rigged as a sailing yacht and used for corporate entertainment from out of St Katharines Yacht Marina on the River Thames. In 1995 moved to Gravesend (on the Thames) and became a floating restaurant. She was broken up in September 2004.
Betula of Ipswich: Built of steel by Gideon of Groningen, Netherlands, in 1924 as a motor sailing bulk cement carrier named Maartelaasgracht. Bought by Eddie Smith in 1997 who had the hull shortened and altered, with new decks, cabin and hatches at Werkandam, Netherlands. She was rigged as a staysail barge and renamed Betula of Ipswich; Betula is the scientific name for the birch tree. She was active in several barge matches sailing under Eddie Smith. She is based at Pin Mill on the River Orwell, where she is presently laid up (in 2016) waiting for a buyer.
* The five barges from Ipswich were the Adie, Barbara Jean, Doris, Ena and Tollesbury. The Tollesbury and Ena survived and are covered above. Basic information on the three others lost at Dunkirk is as follows.
• Adie of Ipswich: Built at Brightlingsea 1924, 119 tons. Blown up and abandoned between Dunkirk and La Panne 1940.
• Doris of Ipswich: Built at Ipswich 1904, 62 tons. Hit by a mine and abandoned 3 nautical miles east of Dunkirk 1940.
• Barbara Jean of Ipswich: Built at Brightlingsea 1925, 144 tons. She was one of the largest sailing barges and was loaded with stores and ammunition. She was towed by a tug to Dunkirk on 31 May 1940 and was beached to make a “pier” for the soldiers to use in order to get onto the larger boats that could edge in closer in deeper water. This episode has been depicted in several of the films dedicated to the Dunkirk evacuation, and has also been shown on postage stamps of the incident (Marshall Islands).
Launched in April 1860 at Cuthbert’s shipyard in Sydney, the 89 ton Ipswich was one of the first paddle steamers on the Bremer River; plying the route between Brisbane & Ipswich. Owned by the Australasian Steam Navigation Company, the Ipswich was a flat bottomed, double headed boat that could by steered from either end. In 1880 she was sold to a Brisbane owner who had her converted to a screw propeller & renamed her Benowa in 1885. She foundered in the Brisbane River in July 1888, and was raised only to be demolished.
The first paddle steamer on the Bremer River had been the Experiment in 1846. As well the Ipswich, others that followed during the latter part of the nineteenth century included the Bremer, Hawk, Emu & Breadalbane.
Built in Brisbane in 1941 by Evans, Deakin & Co. & launched in August of that year, the 650 ton minesweeper HMAS Ipswich was a Bathurst class corvette named for the city of Ipswich, Queensland. Commissioned in June 1942, she was used as a convoy escort by the Royal Australian Navy until November of the same year, before being assigned to the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean & Persian Gulf until January 1945, also spending some time in the Mediterranean in 1943. In 1945, she returned to Australia & was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet. She was present in Tokyo Bay on Victory over Japan day, 2nd September 1945.
In July 1946, HMAS Ipswich was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy & renamed HNMLS Morotai. In 1949 she was again transferred, this time to the Indonesian Navy, & renamed KRI Hang Tuah. She was bombed & sunk in April 1958 by an American mercenary flying a B-25 Mitchell bomber, who was fighting for rebels against the Indonesian government.
Named for the city of Ipswich, Queensland, the second HMAS Ipswich was a Fremantle class patrol boat of 210 tons built at the NQEA Australia shipyard, Cairns in 1980-82. Launched in September, she was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in November 1982. Her principal use for the next 24 years was as a patrol vessel contributing to Australia’s fisheries protection, immigration, customs & drugs operations, also being used in disaster relief & humanitarian operations.
In 2006, HMAS Ipswich was used for filming the Australian TV drama series “Sea Patrol”, under the fictional name HMAS Hammersley. HMAS Ipswich was decommissioned on 11th May 2007, and broken up for scrap at Darwin later that year.
On 11th May 2011, a memorial to HMAS Ipswich was unveiled in Queens Park, in Ipswich. This consists of the ship’s Bofors gun which now stands alongside the existing RAN memorial. (See also Queens Park section on the Ipswich, Queensland page)
During the American War of Independence, on 13 December 1776, the schooner Ipswich, out of Massachusetts with a crew of five and a Dutch master, was captured by the British ship Boreas under Capt. Charles Thompson and taken to Jamaica. Nothing more was heard of her.
A ship of 292 tons was built at Salisbury, Massachusetts, in 1804 and was registered specifically with the name Perseverance of Ipswich to distinguish her from the many other ships with the name Perseverance. Her owners were Robert Follansbee of Salisbury, Joseph Swasey and David Rogers Jnr both of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Robert Follansbee was the master and the ship operated out of Newburyport, Massachusetts, along the East Coast ports and across the Atlantic. In June 1815 the ship was sold to Ellis & Co. of New York where she was registered but the “of Ipswich” was dropped from her name. She no longer appeared in Lloyds Register in 1818 and is presumed to have been sold or broken up.
After entering the First World War in 1917 the US government established the United States Shipping Board to build, own and operate cargo ships. This body went into mass production of steel-hulled cargo ships through its Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFT). These were known as Design 1013 ships and all were identical, each with a gross tonnage of 5,671. Most were built at shipyards on the west coast so as to be out of danger from German U-boats & hence they were given names that began with West or Western. A total of 111 were completed, the majority in 1919 after the war was over. Because the war had ended, the US Shipping Board allowed the ship that was to become the Ipswich to be built at Chester Shipbuilders Co Ltd in Pennsylvania in 1919. The shipyard followed the usual policy in naming the ship, but made sure it was named after a Pennsylvanian town – Westfield. Despite the war having ended all the ships were acquired by the US Navy, but were quickly decommissioned after only a few months’ service. In the case of the Westfield after seven months. She was sold to the Shawmut Steamship Company which had been operating the cargo ships on behalf of the US Navy. This company was based in Boston, Massachusetts, hence they renamed it after the town in that state: Ipswich.
The Shawmut Steamship Company was a subsidiary of the American Ship & Commerce Navigation Corporation which became the United American Lines in 1920. After the subsidiary Shawmut SS Co. was dissolved in 1925, the United American Lines was bought by the German company, Hamburg America Line, in 1926. The Ipswich found itself on a regular run between New York and Hamburg in Germany, but, with the start of the Second World War, she was intercepted on 20 September 1939 by the British & had her cargo confiscated.
When the USA came into the Second World War, the Ipswich, being a German-owned ship, was requisitioned by the US government. She was renamed Campfire in 1942 before being sold or given to the USSR in 1945 under the name Surkov. She was broken up in 1956.
Built in 1928 at the Andrew Berg Shipyards, Blaine, Washington, the 34 ft, 10 ton, commercial fishing vessel Ipswitch (with a ‘t’) is based at Sitka, Alaska. She was still registered there in 2021.
This vessel was originally named Ipswich (without a ‘t’) and operated out of Port Angeles, Washington. However, when a change of ownership took her to Sitka in Alaska in 2001, the new registration was changed to Ipswitch (with a ‘t’).
The Swift of Ipswich was built in 1939 by William A. Robinson, who had acquired a small shipyard on Fox Creek, near Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1937. She was designed by Howard I Chapelle as a reduced size replica of the Swift; a brig built in America in 1778 which served as a privateer during the American War of Independence. The Swift had been captured by the Royal Navy & brought to Deptford Dock in London, where she was deconstructed sometime during the 1780s. Not before detailed drawings had been made of her, however.
The Swift of Ipswich is a twin-masted topsail schooner of 46 tons, with a length of 70½ ft. The year after her launch she was sold to the actor James Cagney (1899-1986) & his brother William. Cagney, star of such films as The Public Enemy (1931), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) & Yankee Doodle Dandy (1941), transported the Swift of Ipswich to Newport Beach, California, where she not only served as a private luxury yacht, but also appeared in many Hollywood films.
After Cagney sold her in 1958, the Swift of Ipswich was acquired by Swift Associates & used for a variety of purposes over the years, including harbour tours, before being acquired by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute in 1991. She participated in the Clash of the Tall Ships II in Long Beach Harbor, California in January 1998 & is now used as a sail training vessel for their Topsail Youth Program as from 2002. In 2014 the Swift of Ipswich was placed in semi-retirement at Chula Vista, California, where, after 65 years of exposure to salt water conditions, work has begun on an extensive reconstruction. In February 2018 she was returned to the San Pedro-Wilmington waterfront at Los Angeles for the final restoration work. The scheduled date for completion of the restoration work is 31 December 2021.
Built in 1943 at Gibbs Shipyard in Jacksonville, Florida, this 284 ton PC-461 class submarine chaser was launched in September of that year & commissioned in June 1944. At this time she seems to have had no name, but was simply known as PC-1186. She was assigned to convoy duties in the Atlantic during the remainder of World War II, firstly from New England to Cuba, then between Cuba & the Panama Canal. After the war she patrolled the Canal Zone until May 1946, when she returned to Charleston, South Carolina & was decommissioned at New York in July 1946. She then joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet &, while berthed in Boston, was named Ipswich in February 1956. In April 1959 she was struck from the Navy Register & sold for scrap in September 1959.
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