For the past six years the Manx Museum conservator Chris Weeks has been working towards restoring the Peggy. In January last year, the roof of the outer cellar at Castletown, where the Peggy had been for two hundred years, was removed and she was lifted out over the rooves and taken in a crate to a warehouse in Douglas.
She is now being stored in a newly built building at the same humility level as the cellar, but ultimately the temperature will be lowered. It is planned to restore the Peggy and return her to Castletown and hopefully build a replica that could be sailed to discover her correct sail plan. She was possibly classified as a shallop and most likely to have been a two masted gaff schooner.
The Peggy was built for Captain George Quayle, a banker on the Isle of Man, and presumably named after his mother Margaret Moore. The boat had a crew of six, no doubt for rowing, and three ‘sliding keels’ (centreboards). Because of French privateers, she had an Admiralty permit to carry no less than eight small cannons and six fowling pieces. She made trips to England without ever having to use her armament. She didn’t sail after 1805 and at some point the entrance to her boathouse at Castletown was walled up and she remained in her stone boathouse, unnoticed by the outside world, until some nautical historians became aware of her in 1935.
The cellar flooded on high tides and was damp, but only the keel rotted and this was replaced in 1950. The Peggy, which was lying on her starboard side, was stood upright and painted white. She has 18 layers of paint on the sides and was originally painted cream with a green gunwale. In 1951, the Quayle’s Bridge House became the Manx Nautical Museum with the Peggy as the main exhibit.
In the nineteenth century, all the Manx ports had thriving herring fisheries. First their luggers were called Nickys and were based on the Cornish luggers. The later Nobbys were inspired by the Lock Fyne skiffs, with their pointed ‘zulu’ sterns and were fast sailers. The Manx fishermen had two masted luggers with a standing foresail and a jib on a bowsprit.
The 41ft Manx nobby Gladys, built at Peel by Neakle & Watterson in 1901 for herring drifting and rig-net fishing was one of the few boats to have a licence to go mackerel fishing at Kinsale in Southern Ireland.
She was sold from the Isle of Man in 1936. After this, she fished from Barrow-in-Furrow and then became a yacht and in 1995 Paul Welsh found her in a field in Kinvarra and rebuilt her.
She is now owned in Cornwall, based in the Penryn River. Her new owners have given her a major refit and repainted her in the original hull colours and given her a Cornish dipping forelug sail.