The Land and Sea project
Central to The Land and Sea project is the restoration of
Priscilla MN76, which will see a new life:
In 1931, when the boat was sold to a new owner who operated her out of the nearby fishing community of West Mersea.
Priscilla would primarily have been used for the oyster dredging trade, but was also used for ‘Stowboating’, an older and more
complex method of fishing where a net was slung underneath the vessel when anchored. ‘Stowboating’ was used to catch
sprats which were prevalent in the northern Thames Estuary and could be used for eating or as fertiliser on local fields.
Priscilla held a Colchester registration, ‘CK 437’ for the first part of her working life. The registration was changed to ‘MN 76’
1970 when she was still in operation despite her age. She ended her working life in 1975.
In 1981, in an effort to extend her life, Priscilla was coated in Ferro Concrete, a common practice at the time. This enabled
the boat to continue sailing and take part in the ever popular sailing smack races and events around the Thames Estuary.
Sailing Smack Priscilla was built as a general, 2nd class sailing smack in 1890at the yard of the ‘Stone Brothers’ of Brightlingsea. Priscilla was only the second smack built by the yard after it opened in 1890 and is the oldest ‘Stone’ built vessel in existence. The ‘Stone
Brothers’ yard went on to become a prolific boat building business employing many local people in Brightlingsea up until its closure in 1988.
In use, Priscilla operated initially out of Brightlingsea for her first owner a Mr Willie Barber who, like many Colne fishermen, fished in the winter and crewed aboard large sailing yachts during the summer months. It is likely that Priscilla was paid for with prize money earnt by Mr Barber whilst competing in the summer months. Originally built at 31ft to the rudder post and 36ft overall on deck, she was later lengthened
to her current size of 39ft from stem to rudder post and 43ft overall.