'Beagle Leigh' photographed at Hullbridge
‘Beagle Leigh’ has the lines of a Leigh bawley. Originally she may have worked for flatfish, smelts and whitebait - most certainly for cockles. Her crew could well have cooked and packed her catch while underway. In 1890, 86 bawleys sailed from Leigh. If ‘Beagle Leigh’ is over eighty years old, which is most likely, her original flax or cotton sails could have been sewn by F.A.Turnidge of Leigh who specialised in bawley sails. She may have been built by Frank Parsons who was an apprentice of Mr. Heywood at Southend. Most bawleys were built by Aldous of Brightlingsea, some at Greenwich and others at Harwich where there were 60 working bawleys.
The Gaff Rig Handbook by John Leather has a lot of historical data about bawleys; things like where they were built, how they were rigged and of their participation in races. A handful of bawleys conveyed pilots between ship and shore and continued to do so until 1920.
I have found a photo of ‘Darana’, a Leigh Bawley that was for sale (see link below) and she is similar to ‘Beagle Leigh’. The former was built in 1939 by Drake Brothers of Tollesbury. The average time taken to build a bawley was six months. In more recent times, surviving bawleys have been converted into yachts by the addition of low profile cabin tops.
Maurice Griffiths, known for designing the Eventide, the Waterwitch and the Lone Gull, also designed a yacht based on the Thames bawley, his own ‘Kylix’ which was built for his use in retirement.
Leigh Bawley ‘Dorana’ was for Sale – good photos
Gaff Rig Handbook by John Leather
Gaff Rig Handbook Online
Maurice Griffiths ‘Kylix’ Class Yacht based on the lines of a 25’ Cockler
Maurice Griffiths Bawley for Sale £7,500
Bawley Cutter Rigged Wildfowling Boat
Maurice Griffiths Waterwitch
Lone Gull 2 for Sale – restoration project