Member Projects




David Hutchison

Robertson's Yard Exhibition

David Hutchison has recently finished work on the history of Robertson's Yard and accounted for 468 of the 482 numbered boats built there. The local Library Historian at Sandbank is organising a wee 'Robertson's Yard' exhibition at the Dunoon Library from 12 April to 31 May. There will be a slide show with photos of the main boats (1890-1980). A list of all the Robertson boats, with their histories, will also be available to view

After the exhibition all the material will be archived and available for research purposes at the Robertson's Yard section of the National Archives, Lochgilphead and the Live Argyll Library HQ at Sandbank

Press Release

Dunoon Library is hosting an exhibition about Robertson’s Yard from 12th April to 31st May. There will be display boards highlighting the history of the yard and its boats. A more detailed visual presentation entitled Robertson’s Yard & Boats: a History in Pictures (1876-1980) will also be on display. A list of all the boats with their histories will be available to view, so you can find your favourite Robertson-built boat, and add any new information.

Many glowing tributes were paid to the legendary Sandbank boat-builder Alexander Robertson when he died in 1937.

“Mr Robertson’s success in the yachting world had been won because he laid down the first rule that everything that went out of his yard must be of the very best.”

“Not only was he eminent as a designer and builder of yachts, but he also took an active part in the sport of yachting, especially in his younger years.”

“He has left an enduring monument to his memory in the yacht-building yard which is the creation of his genius; the permanent result of his courage and industry.”

“Today Robertson’s of Sandbank is a household word in the world of yachting and yacht-building”

"The men who worked at the yard were among the finest craftsmen in the world. They were not just boat-builders but artists in wood."

Only recently has it been possible to quantify Alexander Robertson’s contribution to yachting. For many years there was no complete list of boats built at Robertson’s Yard due to inadequate records, as a result of: fire damage in the office; haphazard reporting during WWI; requirements for great secrecy during WWII; and the challenging conversion from wood to fibreglass construction. In order to compile the history of the yard and boats it was necessary to use a diverse range of sources: Robertson’s Yard section of the National Archives at Lochgilphead; Live Argyll Libraries; Castle House Museum; Lloyd’s Register of Yachts; RNLI; Royal Navy Associations; yachting clubs/associations; yachting magazines; newspapers; boat list compiled by the late Peter Collyer; and contact with the boat owners and their families. As a result of this new research 468 out of the 482 numbered boats built at the yard have been identified.

Over 60 wooden boats are still afloat around the world, in place such as the Caribbean, Australia, USA, Switzerland and the Mediterranean. The oldest is Camilla (1894) and she is still racing at Rhu, based at the RNCYC. The oldest yacht designed and built by Alexander Robertson, which is still afloat, is a 29 ft Auxiliary Yawl named Jura (1903) which is currently undergoing restoration work in Kirkcudbright.

Analysis of the statistics reveals that the most predominant Class of wooden yachts built were: twenty seven Loch Longs; five 12-Metres; five 6-Metres; and five Dragons. In terms of wooden launches the most numerous were: twelve Fairmile ‘D’ MTBs; twelve Admiralty 20 ft motor launches; eleven Admiralty 25 ft Whalers; nine Watson lifeboats. On the later fibreglass phase at the yard, fifty seven Pipers, forty nine Etchells and eleven Bolero 25 footers were built.

With the boat list completed it was feasible to start looking for photographs of the key wooden boats and the main fibreglass yachts. Following the exhibition the boat list, histories and photographs will be archived in the Local Collection of Live Argyll Libraries at Sandbank so boat owners and future researchers have access to all the information.

Vincent Delany

The yachts of the River Shannon in Ireland 1830-1930
How yachting as an elite sport for a short summer season was the landowner's summer activity to compensate for the fact that hunting only took place for 9 month of the year. It describes the regattas with only six yachts competing with tens of thousands of spectators. It shows how yachting developed from a 'private party' to an activity accessible to every tier of society.

Vincent Delany

Yachting in County Roscommon, Ireland

Brian Corbett

Battle of Chatham / Medway in Flames June 2017
The Dutch are well underway with the registration of the 200 or so yachts and ships coming to the Medway for the historic event. The really good news is that the bulk of the Dutch visitors will be split into two fleets.
Fleet 1, consisting of; tall ships, including the HNLMS Urania, the brigs; Merganster and Aphrodite; many yachts from the Royal Maas Yacht Club from Rotterdam, and; historic steam and motor vessels, will gather at Queenborough on Wednesday. 7 June 2017 and sail, in company, up the Medway, on the morning of Thursday, 8 June 2017, with the Dutch royal prince taking the salute at Upnor castle. Fleet 1 will leave the Medway on 12 / 13 June 2017.
Fleet 2, up to 90 yachts, largely from the Dutch Offshore Sailing Club, will gather at Stangate Creek and sail up the Medway on 14 June 2017, leaving on 18 June 2017.
Many of the historic ships will be open to the public as well as the visiting Dutch and British naval vessel, which will be berthed in Chatham Historic Dockyard, Basin 2.
The event grand finale takes place on Saturday, 17 June 2017. The day includes entertainment on the river; a parade of sail with Dutch and local yachts and ships, including a modern steam vessel and many of the Fleet 2 yachts. The day culminates with the 'Medway in Flames', a son-et-luminaire and firework display with Upnor Castle as the backdrop, with magnificent views from MYC.
The Medway and Swale Boating Association (MSBA) and member clubs and marinas, including Medway YC and Upnor SC, are providing moorings for our Dutch visitors and arranging river activities.
Our Medway and Upnor clubs are working together to provide breakfast and evening meal galley facilities, and; to arrange Hog Roast evenings with a sea shanty band, at MYC, on Saturday 10 June and Friday 16 June 2017. There will also be a ‘Pub Night’ meal, served from the counter, with Upnor SC running a Quiz, on Thursday 15 June.
Hoo Ness YC, together with Medway Cruising Club and Segas SC are providing moorings and hospitality for a small fleet of ‘Gaffers’ from Holland and the east coast.
Websites providing further information can be found at; and

Brian Corbett
MYC and Chairman, MSBA

Charles Lawrence

Offshore powerboats between approximately 1955 and 1975
See contact details at: