Tall Ships Youth Trust History

A Little About The Tall Ships Youth Trust
The Charity's Beginnings
The Schooners
Schooners Stats
Life Onboard
New Ships Project
Press Release - 14th December 1998
New Ship Attributes
Fitting Underway
New Brig Named - STA News Winter/ Spring 2000
Date set for Sir Winston Churchill decomissioning
Second Brig Named - Prince William

A Little About The Tall Ship Youth Trust

STA logo The Tall Ships Youth Trust is a premier tallship charity even when measured on a world scale. It owns and operates two tallships and it's international devision, the ISTA, was until recently responsible for organising the annual Tall Ship Race.

Nearly two thousand young people undergo personal development training on the charity's two vessels each year and over 60,000 have sailed over the past 30 years. The task of raising awareness, funds and assisting the youngsters to sail is greatly assisted by local volunteers scattered across the UK. The work of the charity allows it to be the largest provider of the Royal Yachting Association 'competent crew' certification. The performance outcomes of the voyages match the criteria set up by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) in evaluating youth work effectiveness. The work is also endorsed by the DfEE (Department of Education and Employment) as a successful experiential education programme. The DfEE has also provided a grant to the charity which helps in it's work.

The Charity's Beginnings

The charity was started in 1956 mainly through the efforts and vision of a solicitor, Bernard Morgan. With the last of the world's tallships close to being consigned to the breakers yards, he came up with the idea of bring them together in a handicapped race from the UK to a European port. The vision was for the crews of these ships to be young men who wished to go to sea for the experience of adventure rather than just for a career.

The race was a great success and what was originally to be a one off event was repeated in 1958 and 1960. With the patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh in place, the Sail Training Association (STA) was officially constituted with a set of ideals which hold true today as they did in 1956. The charity changed its name to Tall Ship Youth Trust in 2003 to more accurately reflect its role. The Cutty Sark Tallship Race was also established as a biannual event which has since become so popular that it occurs annually.

The Schooners

In the early years, the UK did not possess it's own tallship and the STA was obliged to borrow or charter craft from wealthy individuals so that UK nationals could sail in the race. To overcome this, a building committee was established to design, finance and build a vessel. Camper and Nicolson, a well established yacht builder was commissioned to design the craft as three masted schooner capable of going to sea in all weathers. The funds for the ship were raised through public subscription and in due time the building contract was awarded to Dunston's ship yard in Hessle, Yorkshire. The Sir Winston Churchill's keel was laid on the 24th November of 1964 and launched on the 5th February 1966. She was commissioned on the 3rd of March 1966 and so embarked on a 35 year career of bring adventure and invaluable experience to thousands of youngsters and adults alike.

Sir Winston Churchill   (S.Kennedy)

The Sir Winston Churchill was soon destined to have a sister ship called the Malcolm Miller. The family of Sir James Miller, the former Lord Mayer of London and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, donated half of the cost of this second schooner. She was named after Sir James' son who was tragically killed in a car accident at a young age. Her keel was laid in on the 23rd of March 1967 at the Aberdeen yard of John Lewis & Sons. She was launched on the 5th October 1967 and commissioned on the 10th of march 1968. Almost identical to her elder sister, she differed mainly in having slightly larger crew accommodation and square topped doors while the Churchill had round topped doors.

Schooners Stats

Sir Winston Churchill Malcolm Miller
Built Hessle 1966 Aberdeen 1968
Official Number 308536 303228
Max Draft 4.9 metres 4.9 metres
Overall Length 45.67 metres 45.67 metres
Overall Beam 8.31 metres 8.38 metres
Gross Tonnage 218 205
Nett Tonnage 61 61
Loaded Displacement 332.6 tonnes 332 tonnes
Air Draft With Topmast 35 metres 35 metres
Air draft Without Topmast 31.5 metres 31.5 metres
Total Sail Area 811.8 square metres 811.8 square metres
Engines Ford Mermaid x2 202kw Perkin x2 179 kw
Radars Racal Decca Racal Decca
Gyro Sperry S.G.Brown
Echo Sounder Kelvin Hughes Kelvin Hughes
Satcom C Thrane and Thrane Thrane and Thrane
MF / HF Radio Marconi Marconi
Weatherfax Furuno Furuno
VHF Sailor and Furuno Furuno
Fire Detection Thorn Minerva Thorn Minerva

Life Onboard

Each of the schooners carried a crew of 55 who had to work as a team to handle the ship. This number was made up from 5 permanent, highly qualified crew (Captain etc) the volunteer after guard (watch leaders / officers etc) and the 39 trainee or voyage crew. When the voyage crew arrived onboard they were divided between three watches which were named after a mast of the ship, fore, main and mizzen. Climbing up one of the three masts was (and still is) one of the first things that the new crew did. Known as the 'up and over', the crew climbed up to and then through the crows nest. This was a necessary ice breaker and although no one was ever forced to undertake this trip, early trepidation usually turned into anticipation of this great treat.

Halfdeck   (S.Kennedy) When the crew weren't on duty they spent a lot of time on the half deck. This was a communal living and sleeping accommodation where they also sat down eat their meals. Often described as 'cramped' the halfdecks had one great benefit - they acted as a great melting pot bringing all the watches together. The halfdeck was equipped with comfortable bunks, showers and electrical supplies for hair dryers and razors etc. The half deck was also used by the captain to brief the crew and of course - crew relaxation.

During their time with the STA, many great adventures were had on these vessels and they will always be thought of fondly. The warmth of the regard that these ships have inspired, can be felt by reading the voyage reports, found in the
publications section.

New Ships Project

As with all things, ships have a limited working life and they were both over 30 years old in the late 1990's. This made them expensive to run and maintain. For example, the spare parts often had to be especially ordered due to the old imperial guage used in their construction. It was therefore decided to construct two new replacement ships which would have improved facilities, be cheaper to run and be up to all the latest international safety and pollution standards. With the first of the new ships, the Stavros S Niarchos, to be delivered in December 1999, it was decided to decommission the Malcolm Miller first at the end of November 1999. Given the extensive work and cost laid out on the Sir Winston Churchill during her winter overhaul of 1998 to 1999, it seemed the most logical if sad conclusion. This caused much sadness for the many old soaks who had sailed upon the Malcolm Miller. She was sold to a private buyer in May 2000 and moved to Southampton where she was converted into a private yacht.

Giles Pritchard-Gordon was brought onto the charity council to mastermind the new ship building and fitting out project. As a shipowner, he brought a great degree of expertise and he quickly secured the purchase of the two new hulls / engines at bargain prices. This helped to keep the initial outlay low, an important factor as the project was initially chalked in at 10 million. The total cost for both ships eventually looked more like 11.5 million. After stability tests on the hull design it was decided to rig the ships as brigs with an obvious increase in yardarms as compared to the schooners. The new brigs would also be slightly larger and carry a larger crew of 48 trainees and total crew of 65 as compared to 39 and 55 respectively. See below for the full list of
New Ship Attributes. The greater degree of yardarm work undoubtable gives future trainees more cause for trepidation. But as has so often been seen, this aspect of the voyage often becomes the most enjoyed and well remembered.

With the Major Donor Campaign swinging into action under Rob Hughes and Dan Holmes, the contract for fitting out the hulls was out to tender. The announcement of the successful bid was made in December 1998.

Press Release - 14th December 1998

Sail Training Association And Appledore Shipbuilders in 10 Million New Ships Deal.

The Sail Training Association (STA) and Appledore Shipbuilders in North Devon today announced a deal to build two new identical sail training ships, the first of which will be delivered at the end of 1999 in time for the millenium celebrations. The new ships will eventually replace the schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller when they are retired.

The schooners were built more than 30 years ago and have provided sail training for more than 60,000 young people in Britain. The new ships, 195 feet steel hulled brigs (square rigged on two masts) will be larger than the existing schooners. Each will carry 48 trainees, a permanent crew of six and a volunteer after-guard of 11.

"Tha STA is dedicated to the personal development of young people through the sail training experience on tall ships", said STA President Sir Robin Knox-Johston."The new ships will have more berths, better facilities and lower operating cost than our two current ships. They will make a significant contribution to the development of our work with young people over the next 20-30 years. We still have a considerable fundraising task ahead of us, and making a start on the first ship now has only been possible because of a grant of 3.5 million from the Lottery Sports Fund."

"Appledore was selected from a very competitive field of eight yards in Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway and Portugal as well as the UK", said New Ships committee chairman Giles Pritchard-Gordon. "Appledore won on quality, price and a guaranteed delivery schedule".

"This will be an exciting project for us," said Jim Wilson, Managing Director of Appledore Shipbuilders. "Winning this contract is further evidence of our ability, particularly that of our management and workforce, to remain competitive in a global industry."

Over the last ten years Appledore Shipbuilders turnover has risen from 12 million to 48 million. Its direct workforce has risen 25 percent in just the last two years to 500 and, with its wide range of subcontractors in the region, the company is now one of the biggest employers in the West Country.

The initial contract, worth more than 5 million, is to build the first ship by December 1999. A contract for the second ship will be confirmed later. The new ships have been designed by Burness, Corlett & Partners in association with Micheal Willoughby.

New Ship Attributes
Main Dimensions
Length Overall
Length Over Hull
Length Waterline
Breadth Main Deck
Height of Masts
Sail Area
Main Engines
Bow Thrusters


Volunteer Officers
Permanent Crew

Total Complement :

59.35 m (195ft)
50.20 m (160ft)
40.60 m (133ft)
9.91 m (32ft)
4.55 m (14ft 10in)
45 m (147ft 7in)
1162 sq m
580 tons
330 kw x 2
60 kw (80hp)
80 kw x 4



Fitting Underway

In January of 1999, the first of the two hulls was towed from Wear Dockyard, Sunderland to the Torridge Estuary and delivered to Appledore shipyards. An appeal went out to all First Brig Under TowSTA supporters not to flood the shipyard with calls! The second hull followed in February when a window in the winter weather allowed for a safe towing operation.

By February 1999, the permanent crew for the first new brig was chosen as Bob Stephenson (Master) Roy Malkin (Chief Officer), Sim Hoggarth (Engineer), Sue Tylor (Cook), and Darren Naggs (Boatswain). Bob Stephenson and Roy Malkin sailed on the square rigged Lord Nelson and Alexander Von Humboldt respectively to cover the 75 days minimum experience imposed by The Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the Department of Transport.

Throughout the year of 1999, the fitting out of the new brig proceeded to plan and to budget and despite the appeals for calm, many requests were made to visit and view the work under progress. In the latter half of the year, a visiting weekend was arranged much to the relief of the STA members. When it became clear in the middle of 1999 that the Malcolm Miller was the first of the two schooners to be decommissioned. In part due to the large outlay on the Sir Winston Churchill's winter overhaul of 1998 to 1999. First brig after bowsprit nose job. On the positive side, news came through of a 1 million donation from the Andrew Salvesen Charitable Trust. This brought the total raised at that point to nearly half the 11.5 million required. The announcement of the Miller's fate gave the summer charter weekend in the Clyde an added poignancy, as it was be the last time both these vessels would race against each other in the Clyde. The date on which the Malcolm Miller was to be decommissioned was set for the 26th November and the volunteers in Glasgow and Scotland marked the day with a few drams. Originally she was set to a new home with Sail And Adventure Limited, an Australian sail training organisation based in Victoria. This company has so far been limited to operations in Port Phillip Bay and the Malcolm Miller would have allowed them to venture out to sea with their trainees. Unfortunately, the sale could not be completed and as mentioned above she was eventually sold to a private buyer and converted into a private yacht. In early 2001 the news came through that she was to be renamed the Helena C after the new owner's daughter.

New Brig Named - STA News Winter/ Spring 2000

Major Funding Honours A Great Man Of The Sea

This was the headline that announce to the general public that a name had been chosen for the first of the new replacement ships. The announcement continued as follows :

The Stavros S Niarchos Foundation has made a substantial donation to the Sail Training Association (STA) towards the completion of the STA's two new brigs. The first of these will be delivered to the STA in January 2000 and will be called "STAVROS S NIARCHOS".

Stavros S Niarchos at GreenockThe Foundation was created by Mr Stavros Niarchos and subsequent to his death in 1996, has been adminstered by a Board of Directors, including members of his family. The donation to the STA has been granted to honour the name of this great man who had an abiding love of the sea, as well as the greatest respect for seamanship and all the benefits of sail training.

In 1956, he loaned his three-masted staysail schooner "CREOLE" to the British navy to enable naval cadets to take part in the Sail Training Association's first Tall Ship's Race from Torbay to Lisbon in 1956. This generous gesture was repeated in 1958.

"This magnificent donation is a major boost to our fundraising efforts to complete the two new brigs" comments STA President, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. "It is also a significant endorsement of our work dedicated to the personal development of young people through the sail training experience on tall ships."

The official naming ceremony for the new brig was conducted in the Spring of 2000 and she then began her maiden voyage around Britain in March 2000.

Date set for Sir Winston Churchill decommissioning.

An STA announcement in the late summer of 2000 confirmed that the Sir Winston Churchill was to be decommissioned on the 4th of December 2000. Her replacement, the second brig, was by then paid for and the dockyard was confident that they could deliver her within six months of the order being placed. Overall, the Stavros S Niarchos had been received well by those who had sailed her. There are always a few design niggles with new ships and once the relevant changes had been decided upon the second brig was ordered. A plan was set in place to raise a further 1.75m to establish an endowment fund to subsidise future voyages on the new brigs.

In early 2001 the news came through that the Churchill had been sold to an Isle of Man Company. She is still to be used as a youth sail training vessel and is likely to be sailed in the eastern med. Below decks she is to be converted to take a lower number of berths - 20 rather than the 38 when she sailed with the STA. Her configuration above deck is said to remain the same.

Second Brig Named Prince William

The was much debate and anticipation from the STA supporters as the second brig floated out of the Appledore shipyard on the 24th of February 2001. She was handed over to the STA on the 16th of March but it wasn't until the 2nd of April that any announcement was made from STA headquarters. This stated that the ship would be named after 'most famous young person in the UK today' and speculation was rife. The name was finally announced on the 20th of April 2001 as she sailed under Tower Bridge, London - "Prince William".