Maid Marion

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Maid Marion
Boat Type: 
Cornish Lugger
Boat Length: 
39ft 6ins
Boat Beam: 
13ft
Boat Draft: 
5ft
Boat Displacement: 
18 tons
Boat Engine: 
Ford 6 cyl 120hp Diesel
Boat Construction: 
Pitch Pine on Oak
Boat Builder: 
P. Mitchell, Portmellon
Boat Year: 
1925

In 1925, 23 year-old Cornish boatbuilder Percy Mitchell was asked to build a 39-foot Cornish Lugger for herring fisherman Joe Husband and his brother Herbert. He had never built such a large boat before, nor had he a bandsaw to cut the heavy grown-oak frames, the keel, stem, sternpost and deadwoods. Lang & Co. of Liskeard supplied the oak and cut it for him. Percy had to move his yard from Mevagissy to Portmellon to have enough space. The timber was carried by rail to Looe then by the 'Trader Theodora' to Portmellon, where they had to carry up the beach to the yard. She was built with a wheelhouse and accommodation for five. Without even a winch they had to man-handle the heavy ship down to the sea before they installed the engines and masts.

Percy Mitchell was a superb craftsman but knew little about estimating. He agreed to build the 'Westward' for ?300 and she cost him ?400. Percy lost ?100 and his life savings on her, but his reputation grew and he finally prospered.

In 1935 the 'Westward' was sold to John Orchard, a fisherman at Porthleven. He renamed her 'Maid Marion' after his young daughter. When the call came for all shallow draft boats to report for Operation Dynamo he set out to take her to Dunkirk. But he was too late and was diverted to Le Havre and came back with a full boatload of grateful soldiers.

After the war John Orchard sold 'Maid Marion' to Jack Siley, Chairman of Falmouth Docks. He had a farm in Essex, managed by John Hunt, who became the next owner and sailed 'Maid Marion' from Falmouth to Woodbridge in Suffolk in 1965. The boat has been in the Hunt family ever since. It was only in 1990 that John Hunt's son David heard the story of 'Maid Marion's' wartime exploits. She joined the return to Dunkirk in 1990 and is now a very active member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

Updated 26/07/99