The Garlandstone

The Garlandstone is a gaff-rigged sailing ketch, typical of the kind of craft that carried copper from Morwellham round to Wales for smelting. Built by James Goss, at his boat yard, about 2 miles downriver near Calstock, her design was based on the boats carrying cargo up and down the Tamar in the mid 19th Century. Launched in 1909, she was the last cargo-carrying sailing vessel to have been built in the West Country. She was named ‘Garlandstone’ by her first Captain after a rock off the coast of Pembrokeshire, and is considered to be a masterpiece of subtle design; elegant, yet strong and serviceable. She is 76 feet long, 20 feet wide, draws 4 feet unladen and 9 feet when fully laden, with an unladen weight of 75 tons and a cargo capacity of 100 tons. She carries eight sails in total: two on the mizzen, two on the main, a stay-sail and three on the bowsprit. She had a crew of just three men. Garlandstone had a varied life mainly carrying cargo between Ireland and the Bristol Channel. She is a rare survivor of Goss’s work, having continued to work through two world wars and up until the 1960’s.

The Garlandstone built at Calstock

One of the last surviving ketches

The Garlandstone survived in trade in the Bristol Channel into the middle 1950s. There were many important milestones during its long life as a trading vessel, some of the key points and dates in its history being:-

  • 1909 Vessel launched, registered to the Port of Milford Haven
  • 1912 Cabin replaced by an engine space containing a twin cylinder paraffin engine
  • 1920-1941 Operated principally in the trade with salt from Gloucester or coal from Lydney to small ports on the south and west coasts of Ireland
  • 1941 Towed up to Lydney and laid up
  • 1943 Vessel equipped with a more modern engine and employed principally in the trade inside the Bristol Channel
  • 1961 Sold to a United States citizen and her British register was closed
  • 1970 Discovered abandoned and bought by David "Dai" E Williams who with his friends made her seaworthy and restored the engine.
  • 1973 The National Museum of Wales
  • 1987 Moved to Morwellham Quay
  • 2000 The Ketch re-commissioned as a floating exhibit at Morwellham World Heritage Site after a 13 year restoration

The Garlandstone built at Calstock

The Garlandstone today

The Garlandstone today can be seen in dry dock at Morwellham awaiting the go ahead for a major restoration project.

It is fitting the Garlandstone ends its life in such surroundings where Morwellham in its heyday was a thriving port with ketches like this constantly transporting the copper ore from the mine around the coast to South Wales for smelting.

Wether you are a seafarer or not the life story of The Garlandstone is a fascinating tale and for those wanting to know more in our living history you will find The Garlandstone book a fascinating read, not only for the adventures this vessel encountered but finding out more about the characters who built, owned and sailed this ketch, their dedication and pride in being associated with this ketch.

You can purchase a copy of The Gardlandstone book here.