Inside the Nottage

Imagine a place stuffed with gems, collected in one place, likened to a treasure chest that pirates dream about. This is the Nottage Maritime Institute, for modern day pirates who adore the treasures of maritime history. Placed in a town rich with artists and culturally grounded folk, Wivenhoe's heart and old quarter overlooks the river Colne. I was asked to take photographs that represent the one storey 'treasure chest', as I like to call it. Books, photographs, ensigns, artifacts and of course models, half and full, of locally famous yachts and working boats. Not only is this place kind on the eye, it is a charitable home for those who needed to learn, and it still retains these foundations offering boat building, seamanship and navigation courses.

The Nottage gets its name from Captain Charles Nottage, the only child of George Swann Nottage and Martha Warner who were reputable off their accord in founding London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, a real success in its era. George Swann Nottage died in office as Lord Mayor of London in 1885, naturally as an alderman of the City of London. His son - Charles George Nottage was born in 1852 and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge (BA and LLB 1879), was admitted to the Inner Temple, being subsequently called to the Bar on 11th May 1881. Nottage, generally known in yacht racing circles as 'Captain Nottage' because of his army ranking in the Devon Militia Artillery from 1885. He first owned yacht 'Foxhound', (Wm Fife I, built at Fairlie's), Scotland and he raced her from approximately 1884. A 58 foot cutter/35 tons, built by Fife of Fairlie in 1870 and Nottage sold her to the American yachtsman Harry North in 1889 when he bought yacht 'Deerhound' (seen as a framed photograph in the photos above).

'Deerhound' was to become his famous yacht. Her lines were drawn by G.L. Watson. Deerhound was launched in 1889, her Gross Registered Tonnage being 56 tons, overall length 72 feet 4 inches, waterline length 58 feet 10 inches and beam 13 feet 3 inches. Rigged as a cutter, only the best canvas would suit, Lapthorn and Ratseys sails. She was a '40 rater' by the Yacht Racing Association and raced in that class. Immediately successful as a racing yacht, winning the Queens Cup in August 18th 1890. In total she won Nottage nineteen prizes in 1890 and was top of her class in that year. Charles Nottage sailed Deerhound around the world and wrote "In Search of Climate", first published in 1894. Captain Charles Nottage was regularly in the press, both British and Continental newspapers who revealed results from racing. He had become a fairly famous yachtsman who stayed loyal in keeping local Essex crew and captains or masters of sailing in work. He belonged to eleven yacht clubs - ten of them Royal clubs. It seems that failing health exceeded his chances of enjoying Deerhound for much longer, he sold her to Marquis Ridolfi in approximately 1892.

Nottage died two years after selling Deerhound, in London on 24th December 1894. In his will, he left 13,000 for the establishment of the Nottage Institute at Wivenhoe in Essex, where his crews came from, in order to instruct yachtsmen and other sailors, especially those from the Wivenhoe area, to navigation. This Institute, now known as the Nottage Maritime Institute, still exists in Wivenhoe. He also left money to the Yacht Racing Association for the annual award of what was to be called 'The Nottage Cup' but this bequest failed to meet appropriate charitable trust legislation and so could not be implemented until 1955. Deerhound is thought to have the following history after being sold to Marquis Ridolfi: Her name was changed to 'Oretta', she was based in Livorno and subsequently Naples for the next twenty years, she changed hands several times, being renamed 'LUISA' in 1898, when bought by Vincenzo Murolo, and 'LUISA M.' in 1903. She was last owned by Ernesto Murolo from 1909 to 1911 and seems to have disappeared from Lloyd's Register of Yachts in 1912.

Amongst these photographs you will find 'Foxglove', that was crewed by local sailors and her Captain Harry Garrad, of Wivenhoe (who are shown in the group portrait). Foxglove was registered to R.V.Y.C, built in Southampton by J.G. Fay & Co. Launched in 1887 and owned by W.B. Paget Esq. of Loughborough, England. She is believed to have been broken up in 1918.

For more information about the Nottage Maritime Institute please find an article in Classic Boat - Jan 2014 and the Nottage's website: