Dublin Maritime Festival 2010 – The Bessie Ellen
Image by infomatique
Bessie Ellen was built in Plymouth, Devon in 1904 by William Kelly, and is one of the last surviving West Country trading ketchs, from a fleet that once stood at 700. These were popular as cargo vessels around the UK and Europe up until the 1930’s. At 120ft long, and carrying up to 150 tons in her hold, she transported clay, peat, aggregates, salt and many other bulk items around the UK and Ireland. By the Second World War, trade was becoming scare with the growth of power driven vessels taking over from sailing ships. Bessie Ellen sailed with cargo right up to 1947 when she was sold by Captain John Chichester to Captain Moller from Frederiksvaerk in Denmark. She then began sailing again in the sheltered waters of the Baltic Sea under a new name of ‘Forsget’, before undergoing a radical transformation – the rig was greatly reduced and a large Hundested single cylinder engine was installed. Bessie Ellen continued to operate until the 1970’s when the ship became too small a capacity to be profitable.
Now back in Plymouth nearly 100 years since she was built, Bessie Ellen has been restored to the graceful sailing ship she once was. Bessie Ellen now works a busy itinerary including day sails and passages around the UK and Europe and is a regular guest at the major maritime festivals.