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The Restoration.

This is the story behind the 1907 Humber sloop that was to help fight two wars and join the search for the Loch Ness monster.

Phyllis 1907. Loa 68ft, Beam16ft.4, Draft 7ft.4, Official Number 124785. Yard Number 60. Sail Number 26148.

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Updated: April 2016

Sailing at South Ferriby

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The Restoration.

With Phyllis finally in the Haven the scale of what we were about to undertake was very apparent, she was big, black and full of rubbish.
She attracted lots of attention from the boat yard and from people who knew all about her. Supprised to see her back on the Humber, Cyril Harrison and Dave Robinson from the Humber Keel & Sloop Preservation Society (HKSPS) who as it turned out had looked at Phyllis in 1975 as a prospective candidate for the society were quickly down the ladder and inspecting every rivet. Cyril who had sailed sloops in the 30s and incidentally had taught me to sail Amy Howson was soon explaining some of her past that had been brought back to him from many years ago. "She was built strong ya know" Cyril commented, "We should have bought her when we looked at her Cyril" replied Dave. "To late now" I said.
The following months were spent cleaning out the hold and removing loose concrete on the bottom between her frames. The plan was to get her cleaned out and any frames repaired or replaced before putting in the ballast and fitting the steel top. However, it was quickly realised that to meet the schedule we had set ourselves someone would have to be taken on to do the brunt of the welding and plating, although I am quite capable with a welder and burning torch the small matter of working for a living was hampering progress.
A friend suggested a chap who although semi retired knew quite allot about ship repairing, welding and plating having worked in the shipyards of Hull for most of his working life. He was a god send and become known as RTW (Ray The Welder). The only time he stopped work was to sit and admire Phyllis's rivets for a short time (his dad was a boilermaker, loves rivets) with a cup of tea and a biscuit before a nod of his head brought down his welding screen and back to work.
 While Kath and me continued clearing out the hold and working out what and how we were going to tackle things RTW had been over the side and welded some lugs on the side of the ship to erect his own scaffolding along Phyllis to repair her top strakes and bow plates. We wanted a bigger engine room and the roof of that would give us a well deck aft that would serve as a seating area and entrance to the hold which was to be our living space. I showed RTW the drawing (Sketch) and explained the finer points to him, by the end of the week the new bulkhead and the well deck floor were in! Wonderful. The original strong beam that supported the lutchet which in turn held the mast was still in place but was unusable. I drew out a sketch with all measurements on for a new one to be made and gave it to RTW. " Its the wrong way round" he said, "No" I said "The mast drops backwards", "Yes but the bottom kicks out forward as it pivots on the pin, where's the pin?"  "Doesn't have one", "Why?", "It sits on this shelf and drops backward from there". Pause for thought, " It would be better with a pin!". Anyway needless to say I got RTW round to the Humber sloop way of doing things in the end and all went well until a phone call from himself.
"The coamings are knackered, what do you want me to do?" I nipped of to the yard and surveyed the situation with RTW. At some stage in her life someone thought it would be a good idea to cut square holes in the coamings IMG_0010(the side of the hold above the deck) to be able to fit windows. However, no windows materialised so the holes were plated over, not very well though. Also the rain water had eaten away at the rivets that held the coaming to the deck and needed some radical attention. Now as I said we both have to work for a living so we don't have a bag full of money to spend until we earn it first, with this in mind assessment of cost and practicalities came in that order. The decision was made after extensive consultation and the coamings were cut off and new ones made and fitted, this was to be one of the nail biting parts of the restoration because if the hull was in any stress it would spring the sides of the ship when the coamings were removed, to get them back in again would be extremely difficult if not impossible. All went well and we had new coamings and parts of both head ledges' (the ends of the hold above deck) were also replaced.
 With the inside cleaned out, all ribs repaired or replaced and with her new coamings in place and the steel plates rolled and welded into position for the roof it was time to put in the ballast. Calculations were made to put enough in to bring Phyllis down to 4ft draught, at that she would be stable when sailing and still not have too deep a draught. One roof plate was left out to pour in the concrete to a depth of 8 inches that was required to give us 32 tons in the hold and leave us the ability to trim her with what turned out to be another five ton in the fore cabin. The last roof plate was fitted and she was ready to face the winter weather.

Site created May 2009

By Kath Jones & Alan Gardiner.

If anyone has any memories of working for James Barraclough or have a story about working on Phyllis or any of the Barraclough barges we would like to hear from you.
If you have any comments or questions on the content of the site or would like to add something to it regarding any of the sloops we would also like to hear from you.


Interesting Links

Humber Keel & Sloop Preservation Society.

National Historic Ships Reg.

Thames Barges

Goole Waterways Museum.
Dutch Barge Association.
In The Boat Shed.
Humber Packet Boats.
Leicester Trader.
Humber Yawl Club.
Brilliant Star

Rodney Clapson

Richlow Books

Sailing Barge Research

West Country Keels

Waterways of the Humber
By Christine Richardson.

Barges and Docks

Sheffield Ships.

 Sloop "Amy Howson"

 Sloop "Spider T.

 Keel "Comrade".

 Keel "Daybreak".


 Keel "Southcliffe".

 Keel "Hope".

 Keel "Eden".


The Barton Regatta

Leeboards Explained

Telling The Differance


Contact Us Here

Although Phyllis was generally pretty well found her topsides were not too clever. Rain water had permeated the riveted joint at the bottom of the forward head ledge and rusted away the metal behind, to make good the seam we had to cut all the rivets and leave the deck upright in place. After welding the new head ledge into position the rivet holes were welded up to maintain the riveted appearance.

Phyllis Top
New Holland

Above. New Holland shipyard were Phyllis had been built was in 2001 the place were lots of good things could be found on the ships being cut up, you could come away with a lorry load of stuff you would never use. Here Ann ("Dritan") and Kath went looking for timber heads and some mooring ropes for Phyllis. The dredger far right is "Cave Sand" the captain was young Harold, son of Harold Harness who captained Phyllis during WW2. We use the VHF antenna from her on Phyllis.

Right. A shot from forward looking aft shows the rolled angle iron frame that will support the steel top over the hold. The mast-way was to be built into the top and fully welded to be watertight, a drain pipe was fitted to the port side to allow rain water to drain out. A new hawse plate was next.

Left. Glen prepares the stools for the aft timber heads and welds on the frame work that will enclose the following pieces. The horse rail supports will also be welded into place.
 Phyllis's after deck had been replaced at some time and is in very good nick. We managed to find a matching set of timber heads for her but could not obtain enough to put five on each side of her fore deck as she originally had.

To stand back and look at the transformation of "Phyllis" from not much more than scrap to a returning Humber sailing barge is very satisfying.

Snow 1
Left. Phyllis with new hawse plate, head ledge and steel top to her hold is watertight top and bottom, Barton Haven was getting a bit crowded at this time and we wanted to get her out to give the engine a run before we took her down to Paull dry dock to be surveyed and painted round and underneath after any work required on her bottom had been done.
Bridge 1
Right. By March 2004 we had managed to get her out of the haven to give her engine a run, this was the first time Phyllis would be on the Humber under her own power for 30 years so with a make shift mast we flew her burgee to mark the special occasion as we took her under the bridge for the first time.
Left. Her first crew, Kath on the tiller, from left to right; Freddy, John, Martin and Kate. It was a sunny but cold morning on the river but the Gardner 6LXB ran well with no problems and we got the small stove going when we got back into the Haven for bacon butties and a hot drink. Next was the trip to Paull shipyard with a stop over at Hull Marina.

Paull Shipyard Dry Dock

Phyllis spent two weeks in Paull dry dock being power brushed all over, repaired and painted with the help of Kate, Dave, JC, Martin and Moo. Their help to get her done in the time we had was very appreciated.
 We left Paull and took her to South Ferriby were we would leave her until the following weekend when we had planned to take her to her first public appointment at the Keels and Wheels event at Keadby on the Trent.

A great time was had at Keadby, lots of story telling, it was good to talk to the old bargemen that worked the Sheffield and South Yorkshire and once again catch up with the lock keepers from the Aire and Calder that I met while twice taking Amy Howson to Leeds a few years earlier. A couple of the older barge men knew Phyllis from the 1950's, one of the most memorable was Cyril Lister, lock keeper of Bullholme Lock and past barge master. He looked on me as a bit of a novice and I suppose I was when Cyril met Amy Howson going into his newly bricked lock in 1998. He'd seen me before crewing for Amy's previous skipper Cyril Harrison and greeted me with "where's Harrison?" When I explained that Cyril had retired and I was Amy's skipper he just said, " you are are ya, right then, get her in and don't take me bricks off, mortar's still wet", I had many a pint with Cyril in the following years. Some of her old crew had heard about Phyllis and had seen her being rebuilt in Barton Haven so came along to see her at Keadby, nobody could remember her in sail but they were pleased to see her back on the Humber and being restored. We found out how some of her dents came about, Middle Whitton light ship was responsible for one of them, and also what work she used to do and heard the grim tale of Phyllis taking someone's leg off in an accident alongside one of the docks (not sure if that's true). All in all well worth the trip to Keadby. The after rail worked fine. 


Left. While we were at Ferriby the after rail was made and fitted, this would make the after deck a safer place when wondering about with the tiller in hand, plus we could sit on it and drink beer, if the need arose of course.
 We did the run up to Keadby in the pouring rain and got totally soaked, but we got changed and put the wet gear on the engine to dry out while we adjourned to the Barge Inn for some light refreshment.
Above. Phyllis alongside Sheffield sloop "Spider T", in 2004 at the Keadby bash. Visiting boats stretch all the way to the rail bridge from the lock.
Spider was also built by Warrens but 19 years later in 1926 for JJ Tomlinson and partner W H Schofield. Some similarities of hull construction are noticeable but the difference in size and general lines of the two ships is very much apparent. Its fitting that Phyllis and Spider T are pictured together, they share a family connection, their captains at one time were cousins, George Harness on Spider and Harold Harness on Phyllis.

On the Chequers.

In the summer of 2005 Phyllis was taken again to South Ferriby prior to her being beached on Ferriby Chequers to be painted round with her final colours ready for the Hull Sea Festival. Kath had thought to paint her in Barraclough livery the same as Amy Howson for the sake of tradition but talking to Dave Robinson she was told "She's yours now, she should be painted in your colours", so Kath spent the next week or two looking at a collection of paint colours from the Edwardian period (Edward VII 1901-1910) because she wanted to try and keep in line with her period in history. At high water we penned out with the chosen paint, rollers, scrapers and brushes on board in the company of "Eventide" and "Opportunity J", two Yorkshire cobble's owned by Sam Abblott and Dave (Danger Mouse) Mouncy respectively who also decided to have a paint round. It was the hottest day since the summer of 1976. We had a real good day on the Chequers, almost a sort of barbecue atmosphere to it, but unfortunately we were the only things that were barbecued in the heat. With a collection of trustee helpers we got stuck in to painting the boats and we were all done ready to re float on the evening tide, with plenty of time to stand back and admire our handy work. Back in South Ferriby Phyllis was tied up and secured before everyone adjourned to the pub to partake in some well-earned cold beer. Cost me a small fortune! The Hull Festival was a good weekend and although without any rigging we were proud to have Phyllis there.


 Below. A very hot day on the Chequers at South Ferriby. the paint didn't need any thinners in, it was thin enough due to the heat.
The Chequers have been used for decades by the bargee's to beach their keels and sloops to scrape and paint or tar round about once a year. Those taking part in the regatta's would make sure there was no weed on the bottom to create drag.

The Mast & Rigging.

By March 2006 the time came to think seriously about her mast. So after much deliberation it was suggested we go to Broughton wood and have a look. Well, to cut a long story short, Sam made a thing that told us how big a tree was (he's good with stuff like that) and after a while wandering about we found one, 65ft of Corsican pine. All we had to do was cut it down and get it to Ferriby were it was going to be made into Phyllis's mast. Oh, forgot one thing, we had to see if we could have it first. Mr Simcox, the man from the estate, was very nice and after we explained what it was for said we could have the tree for a small sum, he also said he would cut it down and take it to the river so we could tow it up the Ancholme to Ferriby which we planned to do with Sam's cobble, deal done the arrangements were made with Rodney for me to do the work on the mast in the Marina yard at South Ferriby.
 IMGOn a suitable tide Eventide was penned into South Ferriby and off we went to collect the tree on  another very cold March morning. On first sight and the first time we had seen the tree horizontal it looked too short, a rough measure confirmed it was 65ft so we rolled it down the bank into the river. Tied on by Captain Sam and bacon butties in hand we set sail back to Ferriby to land our catch, it was hauled out by Moo and a large green machine before being placed strategically onto 5 oil drums ready for debarking.
 After much whittling and by the following June the stick became recognisable as a mast and I was knee deep in wood chippings, everyone who passed had some kind of comment to make, some more helpful than others. After the last bit of chivelling it was time to lift the now "mast" onto Phyllis, so the yard crane was hired and we brought her up alongside the bank to have her first mast in 60 or more years dropped onto her deck by yard owner Rodney and his son David.SA400109
 The next few weeks were spent measuring and making her standing rigging (the ropes that stop the mast from falling down) and fittings. Finally we were ready to raise the now 64ft 8"x 10" mast, but the spreaders were a point of some debate, (spreaders were needed to increase the angle of support to the top mast to greater than 12deg) however once we decided how they were going to be mounted our friend Moo took them off into his shed, and job done. Next day all hands were gathered for the raising of the mast that became a small epic, all our friends turned out to help or watch and we got lots of advice from SA400128the riverbank as usual. I have raised and lowered Amy Howson's mast more times than I care to remember, but this was something quite different if only due to the extra length and weight, plus the fact that we had no forward rollers on Phyllis to do it with made it more difficult. Everyone watching got engrossed in the attempts we had at getting the mast over end, my old friend Cedric was walking about pointing his stick at things and was so distracted by the mast that he hadn't noticed heSA400165 was holding a lead with no dog in it until Nick pointed it out, Judy (the dog) had wondered off down the bank looking for more interesting stuff, much to every ones amusement. Despite determined attempts to get the mast past the point of maximum effort I had to concede that the hoisting gear wasn't man enough so had to wait for Moo to arrive with the heavy gear. With Moo on the scene things were bound to move in the right direction, even if they didn't want to, with chain blocks and other tackle lots of hauling by Heliousa Steve and the other Steve (Bucket Man) we eventually got her mast over end, critically watched by Danger Mouse. We raised her burgee to celebrate the fact and took pictures to prove it. By this time it was getting dark but there was a chap been taking pictures during the day who wanted us to do the last bit again because his battery had gone flat on his camera, did we?……. no, we went to the pub.
 After all the hard work with the mast we had to sit down and work out the finer points of a sail plan for Phyllis. Not a straightforward thing to do, nobody has rigged a 68ft Humber sloop in living memory, so who do you ask. Some may say just scale up from the dimensions on Amy Howson, they would be so wrong. There is a set of rules laid down in Naval architect books that dictate things like the masting and rigging of a sailing vessel, if you get it wrong the whole lot could come down on deck in foul weather and failing that it just wont look right. The next year was taken up looking at old pictures and doing rough sketches. we didn't have time to make the gaff and boom from grown timber so decided to talk to Calders and Grandridge, a company in Boston (Lincolnshire) that supply all sizes of telegraph poles. They were very helpful and once we had chosen which ones we wanted from a whole shipload of poles they were delivered from Boston to Barton ship yard and I set too making all the fittings they needed. Eventually after much measuring we had the sail plan done and talked to Chris Jeckells, the man who was going to make them.


Left. Together in Barton haven Amy Howson and Phyllis settle down for another winter. More progress on Phyllis would come over the winter and early in the next year, we had to get some sails organised and she needed lots of rope and running rigging. More expense!
Left. Kath holds up the top corner of the foresail in the Jeckells sail loft and you get some idea of the comparative size of Phyllis's sails.
The main sail is huge compared to the one on Amy Howson and its smaller than the main Phyllis would have had when she was working under just main and foresail. Glyn, the sail maker is stitching the cloths of the main sail to the right and has stopped for a cuppa.
The next year was spent waiting for the sails to be made and wondering if they would be ok, we had to sort out running rigging (the ropes that hold the sails up) and Danger Mouse brought many a trinket in the form of various blocks, pulleys and shackles, Martin Moo and Sam set too and made her deadeye's for her shroud's and Ian from Redgates at Keadby hand made the mast hoops, over the next few months things started to take shape as she begun to look more like her old self, we just couldn't wait for the sails to arrive. Finally a phone call came to say the sails were finished, so off we went to WroxhamSA400222 to fetch them and then get Phyllis back to Ferriby to bend them on (bend means to tie on, in barging terms) and see what they looked like. We wanted to get the sails ready to hoist at the Hull Sea Festival the following weekend, once again people came to lend a hand. With the huge main taking up most of the riverbank at Ferriby the lock keepers were keeping a close eye on proceedings in case we infringed some ancient byelaw or something, but they were ok about it and just wanted to show an interest. 
 With the Lord Mayor of Hull (Admiral of the Humber) on board the following weekend and all official flags flying (in the right place's I may add) Phyllis arrived at Hull and was the star attraction at least for a while at the Hull Sea Festival 2007. Her new sails had their first proper airing and because we had no halyard rollers (crabs) they were hauled up by part of the Bounty's crew who had brought the replica ship to the Festival all the way across the Atlantic. The sail's were not a perfect fit but to have them at all was a big milestone for us and for everyone who had helped. Phyllis was on display in Hull's Humber Dock with the other sailing barges that have been, or are in the process of being re-rigged, Comrade (1923), Amy Howson (1914), Spider T (1926), Onesimus (1913) and Southcliffe (1923), including the motor barge's represented by Dritan, Syntan, Vulcan and Ricall, the interest in restoring these workhorses of the Humber was demonstrated by seeing all those vessels together for the first time in a place where they would have worked from, they looked stunning viewed from the north end of the Humber Dock were they were lined up along the whole length of the east wall with their shears following on from ship to ship.


Right. The big main sail goes up over the spectators at the Festival. With a 38ft foot, 27ft luff and head with 52ft on the leach there's about 1100sq foot of sail just in the main.
We had to keep the peak low while she was against the wall because of the brisk west wind over the marina, there was no chance we could raise the rest of them. The gaff was extended and the clew and tack of the sail was altered to make the sail fit properly in the following weeks. I had wanted the sails to be as close cut as possible to get the best out of them so having to fine tune the rig was inevitable. The topsail and the two jibs had yet to see the light of day, but their time would come.
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