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The Mounts Bay Lugger Association's History

The Mounts Bay Lugger Association was formed in August 1994 by a group of local enthusiasts concerned about the loss of the West Coast of Cornwall sailing luggers in the Bay and the fact that there was no representation of these craft at the Brest Maritime Festival in France.

They initially tried to find a suitable craft to restore but the search proved difficult.

Plans were available at the National Maritime Museum for a 52' Cornish lugger called the Boy Willie so the Association decided to try to raise funds to build this boat from new. 

The first open meeting of the Association was held on the 17th August 1994 at the Union Hotel in Penzance when the public learnt about the Association's proposals and plans.

Fund raising began when the Association manned a stall at the Newlyn Fish Festival on the 29th August 1994 with models and details of Boy Willie. The project cost was estimated at £130,000 for labour and timber alone!

However, in 1996 a boat which seemed to be appropriate was acquired for restoration but after a time the association found a more suitable vessel.

A working Mounts Bay lugger was about to be decommissioned and The National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby had been approached by the owner in a bid to save the boat from being broken up.

The Centre wanted to help but required a working partner to restore and maintain the vessel which could be then be used for any purpose other than fishing.

The Mounts Bay Lugger Association, which by now had achieved charitable status, had heard about the vessel and was interested in obtaining it. 

The vessel which was built locally at Porthleven in 1904 had a comprehensive documented history. She was called Britannia, but was originally named Happy Return.

She was delivered to Penzance harbour from Swanage under her own power and handed over to the Association by the delighted skipper Peter Barrett.

The Association now had an authentic vessel that could be restored to it's original condition.

On 10/08/2002 the MBLA website was launched and completely renewed in March 2010.