Peggy of Castletown

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Peggy of Castletown
Peggy of Castletown, Isle of Man
Isle of Man
Launchedc. 1789
General characteristics
Length26+12 ft (8.1 m) (LOA)
Beam7 ft 8 in (2.34 m)
Depth4 ft (1.2 m)
Sail planschooner rigged
Armament6 cannon

Peggy is an armed yacht built in 1789 for George Quayle MHK (1751–1835), a prominent politician and banker (see Isle of Man Bank) on the Isle of Man. She is the oldest surviving Manx craft and is one of only a very few surviving vessels built in the 18th century.

For over 100 years following Quayle's death, Peggy was interred within the boathouse he built for her next to Bridge House, in Bridge Street, Castletown, effectively forgotten. Interest in her grew during the 20th century, and in the 1930s she was given to the people of the Isle of Man to be held in trust by Manx National Heritage. She was removed from her original boathouse (now part of The Nautical Museum in Castletown) in 2015 to a warehouse in Douglas for conservation.

She is clinker-built and was schooner-rigged with a bowsprit.[1] A set of her spars is preserved with her, along with her armament (six cannon and two stern chasers) and the winding gear employed to draw her into the boathouse. She is the oldest surviving schooner in the world[2] and the oldest surviving example of the shallop hull form. She was fitted with sliding keels (progenitors of the modern daggerboard) not long after the invention of the technology by John Schank,[3] and she is the oldest surviving example of such a vessel.

Well-known correspondence between George Quayle and his brother, in the Manx National Archive, describes an expedition in 1796 over sea and land to Windermere, Peggy's victory in a regatta there, and her perilous journey home, aided by her sliding keels.

Peggy has been surveyed three times, first in 1935 by P.J. Oke of the Society for Nautical Research (drawings now residing at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London), then by Richard Cowley of Kirk Michael, Isle of Man, and most recently in 1968 by D. K. Jones at the behest of Manx National Heritage. Basil Greenhill, then Director of the National Maritime Museum, took a keen interest in her around this time.[4][5][6][7] Peggy is now recognised as a vessel of international significance, which is reflected in her citation on the UK National Historic Ships Register (National Historic Fleet). Her well-documented provenance, her fine state of relative preservation, her historic location and her design all contribute to this.


Upon the death of Emily Quayle in 1935, Peggy and, in due course George Quayle's boathouse, were bequeathed to the Manx nation. In 1950, with help from the Carnegie Trust, the Manx Museum and National Trust (as it was) undertook minor restoration of the boat and boathouse and opened the site to visitors. Peggy had been resting on her starboard side against the damp ground for 150 years. Her keel and rudder, and two of her lowest strakes were replaced (the original keel remains on display in the boathouse). She was then painted inside and out. Aside from at least one more repaint in the intervening years, no further work on Peggy was done until 2015.

Peggy is remarkably well preserved. Recent surveys indicate that all her original paint layers are intact and that well over 95% of her timbers and fixings date from the 18th or very early 19th centuries. Nonetheless, the damp conditions in the boathouse, which is subject to tidal flooding, have taken their toll. She is built entirely with iron fastenings and most of her hull nails are completely mineralised (rusted). She shows signs of hogging and sagging, and is slightly deformed by the rudimentary props and frames with which she was supported until 2013. Her decorative paintwork is fragile and flaking.

Manx National Heritage has embarked upon a programme of conservation aimed at the stabilisation and long-term preservation of Peggy. The first step (2013) was the replacement of the props and frames with a new cradle designed with the aid of a laser survey of the hull. Then, in 2014, archaeological excavations revealed a well-preserved private dock built for Peggy, dating from 1802 to 1804. During January 2015 the boat was removed from the boathouse and into the dock for the first time in 200 years, and from there to a conservation facility in Douglas for stabilisation, study, and conservation. In due course Peggy will be returned to her home in Castletown.[8]


  1. ^ "Peggy". National Historic Ships (UK). Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  2. ^ MacGregor, D. R. (1997) The Schooner. Its Design and Development from 1600 to the Present, p.24. Chatham Publishing;
  3. ^ O'Brian, P. (2010) Post Captain, Harper, p. 175. ISBN 0-00-649916-3
  4. ^ Greenhill, Basil (1967) "The Schooner Peggy: Eighteenth-century Survival at the Nautical Museum, Castletown". Journal of the Manx Museum. Volume 3, pp. 68-76
  5. ^ Greenhill, Basil (1967) "The Schooner Peggy: An Eighteenth-Century Survival". The American Neptune. January. pp.54-61
  6. ^ MacGregor, D. R. (1997) The Schooner. Its Design and Development from 1600 to the Present. Chatham Publishing;
  7. ^ Salisbury, W. (1963) "The schooner Peggy of 1789 and her boathouse". The Mariner's Mirror. Vol.49 No.2.
  8. ^ Archaeologists move 'Britain's oldest yacht', BBC News Isle of Man/Ellan Vannin, 29 January 2015

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