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HILFRANOR: Pro Gallery


Type: Transom stern Mounts Bay Lugger 
Length:  11.97 metres
Beam:  4.09 meters
Draft:  2.1 meters
Displacement:  20 tons approx. now, when built at 19 tons prior to engine.
Engine:  Mermaid Marine J444, 84HP, (Marinized JCB engine)
Construction: Timber: Larch on Oak with Douglas fir deck
Builder:  Kitto, Richard, Porthleven, Cornwall 
Year:  1905 
Present sail area:-
Four Lug 720 sq ft
Large Mizzen 480 sq ft
Small Mizzen 360 sq ft

1904: On the 5th October, a Cornish Lugger owned by John Warman Saunders Snr. (1851 - 1928) called the "Good Intent" (FE21) was lost in a gale at Folkestone and the 3 crew, John Warman Saunders Snr. 53,  his two sons, John Warman Saunders Jnr. 32 (1873 - 1951), and his brother Edward Saunders, 26 (1878 - ?), were saved. Both John Snr. and Jnr. were known as "Jack". 

On the 8th October, the Mayor of Folkestone made an appeal for £200 towards a new boat for John Saunders. This was ordered and the new boat was laid down at Kitto's yard in Porthleven.

1905: Captain Saunders' new boat arrived at Folkestone from Porthleven on March 7th, 1905 as the Mayor's appeal had raised £121.9s. The boat was called the Happy Return - reflecting the safe return of the three crew. The cost of the boat was £180 and on April 4th it was registered with a gross tonnage of 18.19 and 37'3" length x 13' breadth x 7' depth. Saunders had five or six other boats which were all distinguished by a fish weathervane.

1916: February 18th - Kelvin 8 hp auxiliary engine fitted.

1929: February 22nd - John Thomas Warman Saunders Jnr. took over ownership from his father. All Folkestone fishermen had nicknames and his was 'Spratter' Saunders.

1940: 9th June- 14th June requisitioned from John Saunders for use in operation Cycle, the  evacuation of Allied troops from Le Havre, in the Pays de Caux of Upper Normandy from 10–13 June, towards the end of the Battle of France.

1941: July 18th - John Fagg also of Folkestone became the new owner and amongst the crew were believed to be Bob and Harry Featherbe according to Mrs Audrey Johnson of Capel whose father was John Fagg. He owned FE 89, and the second FE 21- the Dorothy Margaret, built in Ostend. Note that in a press cutting from about 1912 there is also reference to fisherman William Henry (Blacken) Fagg, George (Darky) Fagg and Stephen (Red'un) Fagg.

1948: August 25th - W M Grayling of Folkestone became the new owner. It is believed that Fred Featherbe who died in 1953 was a crew member around this time and perhaps earlier as his grandson John Howkins remembers sailing with him as a boy in the early 50's.

1963: September 5th - William Gale of Folkestone became the new owner and did an extensive refit. A 46 hp Ailsa Craig 4-cylinder diesel was fitted with the prop shaft through the deadwood. The sheerline was raised with new top strakes and covering boards, masts were raised onto a tabernacle on the deck (instead of a scottle) and the masts shortened, and the mizzen moved aft. A wheelhouse was also added, and the tiller shortened.

1969: Alan Rake of Kings Lynn became the new owner on February 17th, 1969 and she was renamed Britannia and registered LN 224. The registry was cancelled at Folkestone on this date and FE5 was allocated to another vessel in 1982.

1971: Peter Barrett of North Cheam, Surrey (later of Swanage) purchased the vessel for £1250 on January 16th, 1971 and became the new owner. A new Oak keel and Oak transom was fitted, some deck beams and planks were renewed. The Ailsa Craig was reconditioned in June 1971.


1972: April 19th - Decca Navigator Mark V installed. May to June - a Parsons "Barracuda" Mk11 105 hp marine diesel engine based on a Ford "Sabre" 2704E with Borg Warner reverse gear was fitted together with new electrics, controls, propeller shaft and 27" propeller by Reeves marine Services, Poole, Dorset. On June 20th it was registered to Peter Barrett. 

1974: 8 planks with an average length of 8' were replaced on the port side forward after a speed boat caused accident damage whilst on her mooring.

1987: She went ashore in a storm and was an insurance "write-off". Peter Barrett bought her back and reinstated her.

1988: Engine overhaul by James & Harmer.

1997: James & Harmer worked on the engine & took the cylinder head off.

1998: January 15th - last day of fishing and the registration was closed.

1998: February 27th - Britannia decommissioned and ownership handed over by MAFF to the North East Lincolnshire Borough Council for the National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. It was identified as a vessel of heritage and historic importance as she was the oldest registered fishing vessel in the U.K. still working and was to be matched by the Centre with an organisation interested in its preservation. The National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby subsequently hand the responsibility for Britannia over to the Mounts Bay Lugger Association.

1998: Britannia was delivered to Penzance harbour on May 4th, 1998 by the previous owner and skipper Peter Barrett. She was returned to Mounts Bay after 93 years in the fishing industry for restoration by the Mounts Bay Lugger Association to her original condition. 

2000: November - Restoration starts and boat transferred to KAB Metal Work at Rospeath Industrial Estate, Crowlas.


2002: March 25th - Formal transfer of ownership of Britannia to MBLA!

2002: September 11th - Receipt of the sails and unveiling of the new rudder by the Mayor of Penzance .

2003: March 10th - Transfer from her site after 27 months at Crowlas by police escorted low-loader and re-launch by heavy crane into Penzance harbour alongside the Albert Pier at 3.30 pm.  Peter Barrett, the previous owner, was delighted to witness this emotional event and was thrilled to see the boat he spent 27 years with, refurbished and back afloat. 

2003: March 11th - Inspected for leaks and found to be dry, then taken out through the harbour gaps under her own power for first brief sea trial before being moored in the Penzance wet dock prior to being fitted out.

2003: May 21st - 4.5 tons of lead ballast cast into 28 lb ingots have now been taken on board, 9 spars having been made by the association members. The timber (Douglas Fir) for the two masts arrived and was "clear and better" timber the lamination was to started straight away under the direction of Keith Billington who had much experience of wood lamination with work carried out for the National Trust. 80 odd metal clamps had been fabricated for the job of gluing the two masts which were fabricated in a box section.

2003: June - July - All the cordage was kindly donated by Martin Heard off Gaffers and Luggers in Coverack Bridge, main and mizzen masts completed and all metalwork, blocks were under construction.

2003: August 4th masts stepped early Monday morning on the Albert Pier.


2003: Saturday 16th August first sea trials after bending on the sails. 

2004: May 16th: Re-dedication Albert Pier Penzance.

Happy Return continues to be sailed today by the members of the MBLA with a full sailing program every year.
Full details of all of the MBLA's work and how you can become a member can be found at


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