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The Humber Sloop

Taken from The Humber, A. Watts, 1980...

The hull of the Sloop has substantially the same lines as the Keel but is generally without the restriction of beam imposed upon the latter by the width of locks on the canals and navigations. The Sloop traded mainly within the estuary, along the coast, and in the tidal areas of the Trent and Ouse. The increased beam gave greater cargo carrying capacity and many Sloops carried 170 tons or more. The rig, however, is the essential difference between the two vessels, the Sloop having a fore-and-aft rig of gaff mainsail and jib.

Early Sloops carried a bowsprit with the jib, set on a stay, plus a flying jib hanked to the top-mast stay. The bulwarks on this type are raised and the cargo hatch is divided into a small one forward of the mast and a long, large one, aft of it. The mast was stepped above the deck in a very strong wooden lutchet.

The later Sloops, built of steel, were simpler looking vessels with more powerful mechanical equipment for handling the heavier spars and greater loads. Both keels and sloops towed a 'cob boat', generally 12'0" long and 4'6" beam, clinker built with bluff bows and fine stern lines. It was propelled by a simple sweep over the transom. Miniature Sloops were common, particularly on the Ouse and Trent; at 30'0" or so overall they would load 20 tons and be sailed single handed by their owner - particularly as market boats.

George F. Holmes, writing in 1905, says 'that a full powered Sloop turning up or down the Humber against a strong breeze makes a very fine picture, as she crashes through the short seas and flings their crests in spray halfway up her gleaming red sails'.

An evocative picture from a knowledgeable eye witness who spent a lifetime sailing the estuary.

The Humber Sloop

Visitor Comments

Posted by Janet Wheal at 29/12/2007 22:02
Has anyone got a Photo of the Sailing Sloop Iona.

I believe that my Great Grandfather Captained her at one time.

His name was Joseph Oldridge.
Posted by meryl at 27/06/2008 20:32
Has anyone have any information or photos of the Humber Sloop named the '' Ann '' my Great Uncle William Whitley was the Master Barger and my Great Grandfather Edward Chapman was an Able Seamen on board in 1881 in Goole Yorkshire. I would be very grateful for any information.
Thank You
Posted by meryl at 27/06/2008 20:45
In 1851 my Great Great Grandfather Thomas Thompson was onboard a vessel called 'Gracefull' in Goole Yorkshire. He was an Able Seamen. Has anyone any information or photos? I would be most grateful.
Thank You
Posted by Liz Woods at 26/07/2008 19:06
How many crew was usual on a sloop?
Posted by Samantha Gregory at 06/08/2008 09:50
I am looking for information on the boat Jane Knox she was in the dock in goole in 1881 anyone able to help i would be very grateful.
Posted by Alan Gardiner at 22/09/2008 09:11
Sloops had a crew of two, although some skipper owners would have the help of thier wives thay would take on a purchasman to assist in the sailing from the docks up river to say Keadby, the purchasman would then do the same back on another ship. Humber sloops were larger than the majority of sloops trading on the river, being 68ft long & 16ft & more wide. the size of the smaller ships was dictated by were they traded to or from such as Sheffield, Barnsley, Driffield, Manvers or Weighton to mension a few. As far as i know most of the sloops & keels that are still under sail today are all Sheffield ships, Amy Howson, Comrade, Spider T, Onicimus, Daybreak k& Southcliff. The only Humber sloop is Phyllis at Barton Haven.
Posted by John Rockett at 30/01/2009 13:19
My great great grand father Edward Grace is shown on the 1861 census as been a master of a sloop could anyone confirm this.
John Rockett
Posted by sue hohenkerk at 01/04/2009 13:31
Just looked up "The John William" Humber sloop and came across this site; she is owned by two friends of mine, Fiona and Eric Hutchison, and is currently moored up in Chateaulin, Finistere, Brittany.
Posted by Maggie at 17/05/2009 19:10
I am trying to track down the present owners of the 'John William'-what a beautiful craft!My late mother-in-law's great grandad owned and skippered this boat and I believe he owned several others.As a family historian I am interested in sharing the history of the 'John William' with the owners and perhaps learning some more.
Posted by Tony Robinson at 11/06/2009 11:01
Re. the Humber Keel 'John William', she was moored in the centre of Chateaulin in Brittany when I was there a fortnight ago. I was not able to see anyone on board, so I suggest she might be there for some time and a letter might find her owner. She is in the distance on a photo I took. I could email it.

Regards Tony Robinson.
Posted by Maggie at 19/06/2009 15:07
Hi Tony,
Lovely to hear from you and thanks for the offer of a photo of the 'John William'-look forward to seeing it!Have you a rough idea of the length of this craft?
Posted by Alan Gardiner at 28/07/2009 09:31
John William (sloop) was built at Warrens yard New Holland in 1904, yard number 29. Without going through the list I think she was 65ft Loa and 17ft beam. She was the first of a string of vessels built for the Barraclough family of Barton on Humber by Warrens. The last time I saw her on the Humber she was Junk rigged of all things and had no Humber sloop features left apart from the basic hull.
Posted by Gill Jackson at 07/11/2010 12:11
My late husband's grandfather Edward Jackson from Brotherton signed Indentures in Goole in Dec 1858 to work as an ordinary seaman under the Master, William Whittaker on the sloop the William and Dinah, built in that year in Knottingley.

In 1888 a ketch also called the William and Dinah is sunk off Great Yarmouth, she is older than the sloop, William Whittaker is also her Master but there appears to be no record of what happened to the first ship. Can anyone help me?

Gill Jackson
Posted by Alan Gardiner at 30/12/2010 11:56
For the people interested in the Humber sloop "John William" . She is now back in England and is at present in the Torpoint Marina. She is still owned by the Hutchinsons and no doubt contact with them can be made through the marina office. Hope this is useful.
Posted by andrew Berry at 14/04/2012 18:18
14 April 2012 John William is at anchor in Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth.
Posted by M.James at 21/10/2012 15:37
looking for the sloop Gleaner cica 1828 owner philander garrod goole any ideas anybody
Posted by Ben rance at 04/02/2013 20:59
If anyone is still interested in the fate of "John William" he is currently lying at goole, but having just been purchased by myself she is destined for sandwich Kent. There we(myself and my partner Hayley) intend to restore him somewhat to a state much improved on what he is currently!

Any more information on him appreciated very much!
Posted by Julie Connor nee Hutchinson at 30/06/2013 05:46
Hi, my dad Eric Hutchinson owned the'John William' until recently, I would be very interested to speak to the new owners if they would be so kind as to contact me please
Posted by Corby Bunting at 30/06/2013 08:39
Posted by anna j dixon at 11/09/2013 17:21
Spider T was owned by me from 1973 to 1974 and she was 63 foot long and 15ft6in beam fitted with a Armstrong siddley 33hp air cooled as I rebuilt it and it had a lot more power after that,
Posted by Corby Bunting at 14/09/2013 13:46
Hi anna. I am intrigued with the choice of engine that you mantioned. I have been involved in Aircooled engine instalations Usualy Lister and the last ones were Marius Duetz. But had no knowledge of Armstrong Siddley instalation. Was it an aircraft engine?. The only aircraft engine that I was involved with was a Junkers opposed piston. Which we replaced in a Faimile B at the timberpond in Goole Replacing the Paxmans.I seved my aprenticeship there and worked many times at the Barge dock Caulking decks on the wooden ones and the most common job was Cement boxes between frame where the plates had worn thin. The only vessel that I can remember the name of was "Three Sisters"
A close friend of mine whos mother was a Wheldrake. Her family ran sloops out of Howdendyke "Sulpho" and Phospho" I have a photo of one with what I was told was Saltmarsh Hall as the backdrop .But since learned it was somewhere on the Trent
Posted by Corby Bunting at 16/09/2013 08:16
Hi Anna. Before answering my last mail to you , Ishould have Googled your engine. There is loads on it. In recent years I have discovered many engine instalations that I was unaware of.But I am the wiser now.
Posted by PMH at 18/02/2014 00:19
I am descended from the Wheldrakes who ran the sloops Nitro Sulpho and Phospho.Has anyone any photos or information on them?
Posted by Corby Bunting at 18/02/2014 18:08
To PMH I have a photo of one of these vessels'''''i was told it had Saltmarshe Hall as the backdrop.But I had recently seen the same photo where it stated ;the photo was taken on the may already have it
I knew Doris Wheldrake and also her mother Amy nee Coggrave. This lady lived in a cottage quite close to the Jolly Sailor
Posted by Dawn Stewart at 07/04/2014 22:22
Hi John Rockett,
Yes, Edward Grace was master of a sloop. I am Edward's great grand niece and have more info that may be of interest to you if you would like to contact me.
Dawn Stewart (nee Grace)
Posted by John Rockett at 09/05/2014 17:29
Thank you for your reply.My Gt Grand mother Edward Grace's daughter Rose Hannah who married Joseph Rocket in the late 1890 and lived in Goole. I would be interested to find out if you was realed to his son John

Regards JOHN
Posted by john rockett at 12/05/2014 20:46
Hello Dawn

Should have been John Edward Grace not Rockett
Posted by Dawn Stewart at 25/05/2014 20:51
Hi John,
I am the grand-daughter of Rose Hannah's cousin Lawrence Grace who was killed in WW2 in 1940. Lawrence's dad (Thomas Thompson Grace) and your Great Great Grandad (Edward Grace) were brothers. Captain Edward Grace appeared in a local press article in Aug 1904 when, as commander of The River King, he made his 41st rescue when a little girl slipped off the river bank at Nun Monkton.
Posted by John Rockett at 28/05/2014 14:38
Hello Dawn
Thank you for your info.Edward Grace had a younger bother William Thompson Grace born 1839 who drowned in the Atlantic 2.1.1862 while serving on the tea clipper The Lord of The Isles. There was another brother John who was Master of a sloop or a Keel and later owned Grocer shops in Selby.Rose was married to Joseph Rockett whose father Joseph was Master of the schooner Tyro which was lost during a storm late 1800's. If have any other info please forward

Posted by Brian Coleman at 28/02/2015 09:10
I have a bible dated 1865 with an inscription: for the use of the crew of the ketch William and Dinah of Goole. Not to be taken away plese keep this book clean
In one of the previous comments the master was said to be William Whitaker it sank off Great Yarmouth. Is there any more information about the ketch. Is ther a museum or organisation that would like to have this bible?
Posted by Corby Bunting at 28/02/2015 12:16
Hello Brian according to Ron Gosneys book"Sailing ships and mariners of Knottingley" the 56 ton SLOOP built in 1858 William & Dinah at Knottingley Owned by William Whitaker,DinahRamskill and Caroline Bayes. William owned other vessels. One of which was Goole built by Mark Pearson" William & Alice" in 1862 owned by William Whitaker and Caroline Bayes of Knottingley
I think if you email Ron on he would be able to advise on a good home for the bible
Posted by Dawn Stewart at 20/03/2015 23:13
Message for John Rockett re. Captain Edward Grace. Please contact me at
Thank you.
Posted by John Rockett at 26/04/2015 17:19
Hello Dawn
I have tried email you re E Grace but mails have come back wrong email address you can contact at
Posted by Ben rance at 24/05/2015 20:35
Hi Julie if you are still wanting to speak to me regarding my purchase of john William, you'll need to leave your contact details.
Many thanks
Posted by Julie at 19/03/2016 12:35
Hi Ben
Wondering if you could drop me an email regarding the 'John William' please
To be perfectly honest when I went to Goole after hearing of my fathers passing - I was devastated to see the state of it
I also wondered if there were any family photos left on board please
Kind regards
Posted by Simon O'Corra at 25/09/2016 10:28
My great great grandfather Stephen Barley was on the 1861 census Master of the William Burkitt (Burkhill) a sloop built in 1848 for Joseph Kelsey and Joseph Gilliard. Does anyone know of a photo of the sloop?

Simon O
Posted by Transportman at 25/09/2016 16:00
Hi Simon, It was the William Burkhill, William Burkitt was a steamer built in 1879. I don't think you will be lucky enough to find photo, not of a sloop in that era. The William Burkill was built in June 1846 by John Wray & Son, Burton on Stather. 60 feet in length, beam 16.2 feet. Registered at Gainsborough, reg. no 4792 and flag signal code J D W L. The first master was Thomas Holt with John Kelsey the owner until 1858, then Joseph Gilleard of Garthorpe was owner with vessel registered at Goole.
Posted by Simon at 15/07/2017 07:27
Thank you Transportman
Posted by JC at 10/08/2017 20:23
Hello PMH re.Wheldrake. The 1881 census records my ancestor William Wheldrake age 34 born at Kilpin Pike. He was Master aboard the Prince Albert (description, Barge). The Mate was George Coatsworth age 23 of ---ingbrough. Do you know anything about this? I have also seen a newspaper cutting which mentions the NITRO from the Goole Times 18 Dec 1896. Evidence of William Wheldrake, Herbert Wheldrake his son and Edward Robert Wheldrake, Mate. I don't think this is my family. Hope this is useful.
Posted by Corby Bunting at 10/08/2017 21:09
Hello JC The Wheldrake family who worked out of Howdendyke on sloops named Sulpho, Phospho and possibly Nitro The Wheldrake that married Amy Coggrave who later lived close to the jolly Sailor
The grandson of Amy is a friend of mine.He once gave me not to call these craft Barges! I have a photo of one.
Posted by DM at 01/03/2018 17:16
My mum is a Wheldrake, her grandparents lived in Howden Dyke, in the house mentioned either its on the corner set back.
I can remember lots of pictures of sloops as a kid
Posted by Corby Bunting at 02/03/2018 11:48
Hello Dm. You may be related to my friend.Can you recall a set of candle sticks which adorned the front window? Which were made from the tubes of Barnes Wallis's R 100 Airship His mum was a tracer for BW and his father a rigger for Neville Norway Shute.These people lived in Airmyn

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