The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1918 to 1939 ANNABELLA - YARD No 206 - Motor Yacht - Mr Musker - Built 1934

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ANNABELLA - YARD No 206 - Motor Yacht - Mr Musker - Built 1934


The Twin Screw Motor Yacht ANNABELLA, was a good example of the quality workmanship available at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb

 The motor yacht ANNABELLA Ship No 206

(Photo belongs to Claire Belton and reproduced here by kind permission)

Owners    Mr Musker
Registered     Keel Laid    
Type of Ship    Twin Screw Motor Yacht Launched    1934
      Handed Over    
Ship Details          
Length Overall    68' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    64' 3" Weather    
Beam    14' 0" Time to Water    
Depth Moulded      8' 0"      
G.R.T.    43 tons      
Props    2      
Other known names        
Current Status   Unknown    
Content on ANNABELLA will be added as and when available. 

ANNABELLA in the Med

(photo belongs to Claire Belton and reproduced here by kind permission)

Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, who would look to have that ship at sea, as long as possible to pay for her build costs and of course to make the company good profits.

To this end one company may have had no requirement for a particular ship after a time and would then sell her on just like any other disposable commodity.
Hence a ship may have had a few owners and would go through many changes and names during what was hoped for a long and successful working life.

This classic looking motor cruiser was a private order from a Mr Musker and she was built around 1934 just as the world was recovering from the "great depression!" as it was called. We have not found out too much of her time from build up to around 1969, when she was rescued from a mud berth in Suffolk, England where she had lain for an unknown lenght of time. Purchased for restoring by Robin Young she was lovingly restored and along with some interior design by Clair Belton she was almost ready to be put to use as a luxury cruiser, most of the restoration work was done while she was in Wootons Boatyard at Marlow, she lay in Ramsgate Harbour for a few months before ANNABELLA was taken over the English Channel and down through the French canals to her new berth in the South of France.



 She was to be seen in Monaco for the Grand Prix of 1971/2 and had a few successful seasons while based in Cannes in the South of France before her skipper and owner fell ill.

In 1972 she was used as a base for the well know BBC T.V.Holiday programme of the time, and below is a picture of one of the charter brochures produced at the time.



Interestingly that when she was rescued from her "mud berth" she had been supplied with 2 A.E.C. bus engines which had been painted white and all the chrome surrounds were gleaming. Very effective power plants which served the vessel well. 

Around 1974 she was based in La Rague just down the coast from Cannes, and after this time the info on her is sketchy so if anyone out there can help to fill in the gaps on the history of ANNABELLA then please get in touch and we shall bring her story up to date.


We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.


All photographs on ANNABELLA have been supplied by Claire Belton and reproduced here by kind permission.
Tales from the Ship


Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

Below is a great adventure story from one of ANNABELLA'S owners.


From Robin Young



I rescued Annabella from a mud berth in St Osyth Creek by Brightlingsea.

She had been bought from the Admiralty Disposals around 1965. And she was being made into a trip boat for Clacton. One of the owners died and the other one did not have the money to complete the job - lucky for me the work done did not compromise restoration.

The engines were AEC Marine Diesel 100 hp @ 1500 rpm and built Lloyd's 100 A1. They were advertised in the 1954 Motor Boat & Yachting Manual, I have a copy p417.

They were built by the marine division in Southall before it closed in '65 or there about, and were still in their boxes. They were installed by me at the Brightlingsea yard where I had a survey done.

The hull was completely empty, it was said this was due to a fire in the North Sea on its way back from Norway as part of the "Ball Bearing Run". She was towed back to Rosyth and laid up. Later she ended up in Ipswich.





I sailed her to Ramsgate with a plank across the engine room hatch and a circle of ply wood for a wheel and a compass in a box. I did have an up-to-date chart at least not a road atlas. The engineering was done in Ramsgate with new side exhausts, the original funnel had gone. We also had the Engine Hatches put in.

So when she went up the Thames to Marlow she was a ship again from the out side.

The fitting out was done as said through the winter 1967 at Wooton's Yard, where I took over the work force and slept on site, floods and snow did nothing to stop us.

 By March the new wheel-house was fitted out with a galley to the rear.

The interior was much as the pictures and all that was then required was soft furnishings.

We left as soon as the river had dropped close to normal as we would have had difficulties with the bridges before that. We returned to Ramsgate in a snow storm to go up the slip for the topsides and to fit the electrodes.

A shake down cruise to Calais and the 4 th April saw her crossing the sea to the Seine, down to Rouen. Then we went on to Paris.

The new super structure was designed by me to conform to the dimensions of the main tunnel 7 km near Longres on the Marne et Soane Canal.

She arrived in Cannes in May and started chartering straight away.



Finally while out on charter crossing from Capri to Bonifacio over night we had to survive a Force 9 storm which caused the Olbia Ferry to turn back.

She was a real sea boat and though she rolled she did not make people sea-sick.

The hull had to be doubled in the refit and there was no sign of the original Gleniffer engines that took her across the North Sea in 1942.

Skip now to 1973 when I sailed her back the same way to London, St Katherine's Dock. I lived on her till she was sold in Sept 1976. The new owner had a hotel on a river in Essex and over the next 30 years I have kept an eye open for her but to no effect.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here and if you happen to know what became of this fine vessel then please let us know..




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-1 #3 Simon Ryan 2013-10-07 17:57
Hi I believe this vessel was taken over in Sep 1943 by the Ministry of War Transport and served as Fireboat in Heysham, Lancs and then in Liverpool until being declared surplus to requirements by the National Fire Service in April 1946.
0 #2 Robin Young 2012-02-13 19:12
Research has found that the Admiralty took the Annabella from John Musker on the 15th September 1942
+2 #1 Robin Young 2012-02-07 19:06
The motor yacht Annabella was designed by G.L.Watson & co.
The Registered dimensions as included in the 1972 Lloyds Register of Yachts. She was Length O/A 65.2ft With a Beam 14’ 0” and a draft of 5’6”.
The mud berth mentioned was at Brightingsea after years in Ipswich while in the Admiralty's ownership.

The AEC engines were prepared for the Motor Show 1951 and had been fully marinised and they were a handed pair for easy maintenance.
The original design supplied to me by Watsons had an open bridge and a funnel; both were removed to allow the wheelhouse to be fitted. The design for this was approved by the original designers at the 1968 Boat Show.

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