Jolly Boats… the Scottish Tradition in Fixed Seat Racing


Jolly Boats are light weight fixed seat rowing boats, specifically intended for racing. They were popular in many parts of Scotland from the early twentieth century. They were still being raced at Portobello into the 1980s, and the last Scottish Championship for the Jolly Boat was held at Royal West of Scotland Boat Club at Greenock in 2001. The class was divided into subclasses, such as “Portobello Class”, “First Class” and “second class” depending on the details of construction. Both the Scottish Maritime Museum and the Riverside Museum Glasgow have Jolly Boats in their permanent collections.

The existing Jolly Boats that we are aware of are as follows:

ArgoBuilt 1924 by Salters for Newport Rowing Club (Firth of Tay)Owned in Wormit. Currently being refurbished to re-enter service.+
Bute SharpFirst Class Racing Jolly Boat, built around 1910 for Glasgow Printers Trade Rowing ClubExhibit at Riverside Museum, Glasgow
AlbatrossBuilt for Wormit Boating Club on the River TayPrivately owned, River Thames near Richmond. Races in the Great River Race as a “River Tay Gig”
Mary ChalmersBuilt 1953 by McAllister of Dumbarton for Ladyburn Trades Amateur Rowing Club (Greenock). Exhibit at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine
NaiadRoyal West of Scotland ABC, Greenock. Active in Racing.
SpriteRoyal West of Scotland ABC, Greenock. Active in Racing.
Bute Sharp, First Class Jolly Boat, Riverside Museum, Glasgow.
Jolly Boat Launching at Portobello
Portobello Class Jolly Boat recovered from Broughty Ferry Boating, In use at Portobello 2012
Jolly boat “Sprite” from Royal West – Racing at the Nith Navigation Race
3d Image of Mary Chalmers at the Scottish Maritime Museum

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