Jolly Boats… a 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:

Coxed Fours:

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.
NereidRoyal West of Scotland ABC, Greenock. Requiring renovation
Auroraex Broughty Ferry BoatingRoyal West of Scotland ABC, Greenock. Requiring Restoration.

Coxed Double Sculls

Argo Built 1924 by Salters for Newport Rowing Club (Firth of Tay) Owned in Wormit. Currently being refurbished to re-enter service.+
Georgie RoseRefurbished 2019Broughty Ferry Boating
Athenaex Broughty Ferry BoatingRichmond
MosquitoSalters, 1906Private Ownership in Zurich
???Built 1872, probably by LiviesMcManus Galleries, Dundee
Alpha
Bute Sharp, First Class Jolly Boat, Riverside Museum, Glasgow.
Jolly Boat Launching at Portobello
“Aurora”, recovered from Broughty Ferry Boating, In use at Portobello 2012, now stored at Royal West of Scotland ABC, Greenock.
Jolly boat “Sprite” from Royal West – Racing at the Nith Navigation Race
Jolly Boat “Naiad” fastest boat over the Course at Castle to Crane Race 2019.
pic -Steve Thomson
3d Image of Mary Chalmers at the Scottish Maritime Museum
Coxed Double “Georgia Rose”, awarded “Bonniest Boat” at Castle to Crane 2019
Pic- Steve Thomson
Argo, Coxed Double, Currently being refurbished
Mosquito in the 1950s on the Tay. Arthur Bowring on the oars, uncle of David Thorne, who kindly supplied the photo
Mosquito, renovated and now in Switzerland where she is pictured here.
Athena, picture at Broughty Ferry, now based in Richmond. Photo supplied by David Thorne.
Alpha…. coxed double. Awaiting more information.
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