PeggyBawn.net Provenance & History

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For over 80 years the doyenne of the Dublin Bay fleet, the 36ft long cutter yacht Peggy Bawn is a remarkable survivor from a golden age of yachting style and craftsmanship. Not only that but she also has perfect breeding.

Her designer George Lennox Watson of Glasgow, Scotland, was at the height of his genius when she came off his drawing board during the winter of 1893/94. In the past year he had overseen the launch of one of the most famous yachts of all time, the Prince of Wales's Britannia, and watched her near sister Lord Dunraven's Valkyrie II being beaten by the American defender Vigilant in the 1893 America's Cup matches. And in the coming year or so he would design a third Valkyrie for Dunraven's second attempt at The Cup followed by the large cutter Meteor II for Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II.

But these massive yachts were broken up many years ago and Watson himself died rather prematurely at the age of 53 in 1904. So nowadays examples of this most famous of designer's work are rather rare.

She was commissioned by Belfast flax miller Alfred Lepper and built by his local yacht builder John Hilditch of Carrickefergus, County Antrim. Lepper fancied a cruiser racer, to give him some good sport in the burgeoning Belfast Lough regatta scene and yet still be capable of cruising up to the west coast of Scotland in reasonable comfort.

This was a time of rapid development in yacht design. By the year of her launch pretty much all the experiments possible in the form of a yacht's hull had already happened.

Lepper had two seasons of fun out of Peggy Bawn and then replaced her with both a steam yacht and a flat out racing yacht. Perhaps the compromise between racer and cruiser didn't work for him... But he left us a beautiful reminder of Watson's eye for a yacht.

Royal Ulster Y.C. Regatta
Bangor, 17th July, 1894
Courtesy R.U.Y.C.
 


George Lennox Watson

Coal Harbour, Dunlaoghaire, 1950's
Courtesy Ian Cotton
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