Fashion sans jib


"Fashion" was built by Robert Aldous of Brightlingsea for Samual Munson Gentry of West Mersea.
24th July 1894, the Tollesbury & Mersea Oyster Company registered her as CK428.

Sold to Ted Pitt of Maldon and re-registered as MN40.

Sold to Harry & Bessie Leslie of Southend and reregistered LO208.

She was fitted with an engine, presumed to be a marinised Model T.

Sunk in Barling Creek by a German bomb and denoted
"lost through enemy action", she was removed from the London Fisheries Register.
Recovered by 'Gaffer' Mumford and sold to Tom Owen who restored her as a yacht.

Sold to Edgar Wilson.

Passed down to son-in law, P Bower.

Sold to Robbie Bush of Leigh on Sea.

Bought by her present owner David Moss of Brentwood and currently moored at Brandy Hole on the River Crouch

"Fashion" was built by Robert Aldous of Brightlingsea for Samual Munson Gentry of West Mersea.
She was first registered as CK428 on
24th July 1894 by the Tollesbury & Mersea Oyster Company.
"Fashion" is mentioned twice in the Colchester Fishing Register and is only one of two entries out of 500 where the exact date of registry is given.
The first is 24th July 1894 and the second, 12th November 1906.
Along with her skipper, Samual Munson Gentry, her crew were listed as George Stoken, Thomas Stoken and Arthur Mole.
A record of smack moorings by 'Navvy' Mussett puts her on the top mooring in Bussand Creek.
"Fashion" was purchased by Ted Pitt of Maldon on the 3rd of February 1923.
He is recorded as saying, that when he sailed her out of West Mersea to Maldon, "she was so hard jawed that she turned herself around and sailed right back in again"
They did however, modify the keel and eventually became "Maldon Regatta Champions"
Her number was then changed to MN40 .
The Pitt family dredged for oysters, mainly in the Paglesham area.
"Fashion" at the start of the 1930 Mersea Town Regatta.
This black & white photo of Fashion is by Douglas Went and comes from John Leather's book "The Sailor's Coast"
In 1938, "Fashion" was sold to Harry & Bessie Leslie of Southend and reregistered LO208.
John Nichol, the landlord of the Kings Head on Foulness, used to crew her, and speaking of her affectionately, reckons he could "sail her backwards or through the eye of a needle".
He also recounts the story of how, when they were laying at anchor alongside another smack, they heard an enormous "crack" on deck. On emerging from below decks, the crew of the adjoining smack informed them that they had just seen her hit by lightning.
There is indeed a huge split down her mast to this day and John assures that this was caused by the lightning strike.
Records show that she was fitted with a Ford engine, presumably a marinised Model T, by Costins of Southend for the princely sum of 12 10s 0d.
The London Fishing Register is fairly detailed in its description and notes that the fishing license was not applied for during the war years up to 1946. The owner also advised that she had been lost due to enemy action, apparently sunk in Barling Creek by a German bomb.
She was recovered by 'Gaffer' Mumford and later sold to Tom Owen of Shoeburyness for 50.
She was, to say the least, in a very bad state. Although the mast was still standing together with a few forlorn mast hoops, the deck was nowhere to be seen.
Tom, subject to the availability of immediate post war materials, restored Fashion to a yacht.
During the course of "yachtification", and much to Toms horror, his friend Busby, who was assisting with the work, decided that the rotten counter was best removed and without further ado, chopped off the stern.
It was nailed to the old barge wharf at Millhead, Great Wakering, complete with the name board, where it remained for several years.
The image on the left shows "Fashion" sans her stern.
Sometime around 1948, Edgar Wilson, along with George Newbury, bought "Fashion" from Tom Owen for 350 although George later sold his share to Edgar.
"Fashion" lived on her mooring in Millhead Basin and was 'sailing sister' to Les Cripps's smack, "Victory".
Edgar sailed "Fashion" with the Thames bargeman, Fred Cooper who carried out much of her maintenance.

In 1982 at the age of 75, and after the death of Fred, Edgar decided Fashion was now too much for him both to sail and maintain and asked his son-in-law, P Bower to sell her for him.
On inspection, it was felt that Fashion was worth keeping in the family and along with his brother Geoff, P? decided to restore her with the work being carried out over two bitterly cold winters.
She was gutted inside and the rotten frames next to the rusted chain plates were replaced along with the second board down. Much of the top boarding was refastened with a considerable work carried out at the stem head. The bulwarks and rail on the portside were almost completely renewed although some of the original rail was salvaged.
A new section of keelson was also bolted on at the fo'c'sle.

It should be noted that the majority of Fashion is original.

The above is an edited version of original by P Bower, dated 6th June 1986
Around about 1992, "Fashion" was purchased by Robbie Bush of Leigh on Sea. Some time later, Robbie rebuilt the counter stern and we will be contacting him to get his story
"Fashion" at Leigh on Sea - September 2000

November 2000 and "Fashion" passes into our custody.
Dave actually owns her but we have enjoyed a fruitful partnership over the last five years, restoring and maintaining a number of vessels.
We decided early on, (during an equal partnership with "Nazgul") that there is only room for one "skipper". So, in return for a bit of graft, and without financial commitment on my part, this arrangement allows me the enjoyment of sailing plus Dave gets a helping hand whilst remaining firmly, "the guvnor".


Fashion came sans engine so Dave sourced a three cylinder Kybota diesel which was fitted at the end of January.
Steve Hall of North Sea Sails is currently making a new jib and stays'l, as the sails that came with her were more suitable for cruising, and we are also hoping to equip her with a new tops'l before the race season starts. The bowsprit will also have to be extended by 14 inches to correct the balance of her new rig
I am sure there is so much more to be told and if and when, info becomes available, we will update this page.
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