Historic "Royal Fifer" Brass and Mahogany Desk Tidy

Historic “Royal Fifer” Brass and Mahogany Desk Tidy



From the Heritage Ketch “Royal Fifer”

Featuring two detachable brass Dinghies and a Capstan (Winch) with removable top, creating a useful storage pot on a mahogany plinth with brass plaque inscribed “ROYAL FIFER”.

Originally part of the fixtures from The Millers “Royal Fifer”

Width: 40cm

Depth: 14cm

Height: 12.5cm

Weight: 3.2k


The Millers began boatbuilding at St Monance in Fife in 1779, first with small local craft, but by the 1880’s expanding to build the large “Fifie” type Scottish fishing boats. They were early experimenters with internal combustion engines in fishing boats and James Miller installed a two stroke diesel engine in a “Fifie” in the 1890’s. They built for the Government in both World Wars, mostly launches and motor torpedo boats. Involved with bespoke yacht building from the early days, when the building programme slackened in the late 1950’s James Miller designed the “Fifer” motor yacht range, based on the company’s successful fishing boat hull. The first production boat, the 31ft. “Royal Fifer” was displayed at the 1958 London boat Show, and sold on the first day. Subsequently over 100 of the design were built in various sizes and many a successfully afloat today, some having impressive cruising records.

James Miller built many fishing boats at his yard in St Monance on the Fife coast, the largest over 70′. He also built some very fine yachts to various UK designer’s plans working from the 1930’s through to the sale of the yard and subsequent closure in the 1970’s.

The yard used their knowledge of the Scottish fishing boat, famous for it’s sea-worthiness, to produce a range of motor sailers, the Fifers, which became very popular and were built from the late 1950’s through to the end of the yard’s production.

The Fifers followed the lines of their working sisters having long keels, a powerful sheer, good freeboard and a signature canoe stern though some of the last boats built had transoms as a quicker build option.

Sizes varied from the little 26′ 6 tonners, the 28′ 9 tonners, the most popular 33′ 12 tonners and a few larger models close to 40′, some with twin engines.

Royal Fifer, ex. Joroda was built for a Mr H C Harris of Seven Kings, Essex, who moored her at Gosport.  In 1965 she was sold to G J Porter of Solihull, Warwickshire who re-named the boat Ros Mairi. In 1970 Mr & Mrs E P Hessey of Burley, Hampshire became owners and moored at Lymington.  In 1973 Mr & Mrs R Stafford-Smith of Little Dartmouth Farm bought the boat and re-named her Royal Fifer , keeping her on a mooring in Dartmouth.  In 1976 Monsignor Corrigan and his brother became owners and re-named the boat Nycticorax (latin for Night Owl) and registered her in Jersey. The Corrigan brothers, who arranged Pope John Paul’s visit to England owned Nycticorax for many years only selling on the death of the eldest brother in March 1999.  During this time the boat was moored on the River Severn near Worcester. The boat was sold a year later after some restoration work and again a few years later to a buyer on the East Coast.
The construction is robust, 1″ planking on heavy sawn oak frames with a long iron ballast keel, oak floors, varnished mahogany superstructure.

This is a very smart version of the 33′ 12 tonner. Planked in larch fastened with galvanised iron boat nails to 4″ x 4″ sawn oak frames on an oak back-bone.

Long iron ballast keel secured with galvanised bolts through the massive oak floors on every frame.

Steel plate rudder on vertical stock with a massive galvanised quadrant in the lazarette, chains and  rods to the traditional spoked teak wheel.

Millers laid the decks in thick teak caulked and payed on a thin marine ply sub deck, the planks joggled in to the coverboards forward and aft with a varnished toe rail.

Varnished mahogany capping rail on stainless steel stanchions.

Deep aft cock-pit with walk-in, full length doors to the wheel-house.

Long coach-roof with varnished mahogany coamings and sheathed ply deck. New traditional sky-light in the middle, varnished grab rails each side and bronze mushroom vents under the windscreen.

4 modern oval aluminium slide-open windows each side.
Square fore hatch on the fore deck with perspex top.
Teak laid seats lockers in the cock-pit with deep lockers below.
Wheel steering and console in the wheel-house forward starboard. Slide open wndows each side.

Bermudian ketch rig on varnished masts. Stainless steel rigging with stainless steel rigging screws to internal stainless steel chain plates.
The main mast is stepped in the patent Miller double vent, galvanised steel tabernacle which allows the mast to be lowered with ease.
The small mizzen mast is stepped on the wheel-house roof and can be unstepped by one man.
Terylene sails, new sail covers. Hanked foresail.
This small rig sets 285 sq’ and gives a useful push when motor sailing and carries the boat smoothly through broken water as well as steadying any tendency to roll in a cross sea.

Lister Blackstone 36hp 4-cylinder diesel installed under the wheel-house floor to centre-line 3 blade prop. This is the original engine, a massive, slow reving proper marine diesel giving a very economical 8 knts cruising speed and a max of 10 knts. It starts immediately from cold and has given total reliability in present ownership, a reassuring, everlasting thud thud.
The engine has had the usual servicing, injectors and pump overhaul, regular oil changes etc.
The massive gear-box is operated by a bronze wheel with chain drive to the gearbox.

4 / 5  berths.
Forward cabin with V-berths. Fwd bulkhead lift-out door to the chain locker. Fore hatch over. Fine quality, unstained varnished mahogany joinery with drawers and lockers under the berths and a long, deep, narrow hanging locker each side.
Bulkhead door to the saloon cabin. Port and stbd settee berths with Chesterfield style cushions in new bright covers.
Drop leaf mahogany table between with cutlery drawer.
Heads compartment in the after port corner with sliding door, Blake sea toilet and porcelain hand basin.
Galley in the after starboard corner, nicely modernised in present ownership with stainless steel sink and gas cooker.
Centre steps up to the wheel-house with pilot berth / settee to port.
6’4″ head-room all through, fine quality varnished mahogany and varnished cabin sole boards.