Lady Daphne

Lady Daphne came first in the Coasting Class in 2010. 

She has won this class before in 2001 and 2005, also finishing 2nd in 2003, 2004 and 2007, and 3rd in 2008.She was third in the Coasting Class in 2011.


Original U.K. Registration Number: 127276
Gross tonnes: 117.13
Registered tonnes: 76.08
Net tonnes: 88
Deadweight tonnes: 200
Dimensions: 90.8 x 21.4 x 7.4 feet or 27.67 metres x 6.52 metres x 2.24 metres
Draught: 5 feet
Construction material: wood


David J Bradley (Sr) took over Thomas Watson (Shipping) from Thomas Watson. His sons, the brothers David J Bradley and Stanley Bradley also went into business working as barge owners with Thomas Watson (Shipping). Thomas Watson (Shipping) had a tradition of naming vessels prefaced by “Lady”.

Sailing Barge Lady Daphne was commissioned in 1921 to be built by Short Bros on behalf of David and Stanley. When the barge was launched in 1923, David named it after his newly born first child, Daphne. Ultimately, David and his wife Lillian had four children, the eldest, Daphne, followed by John, Mary and Peter.

Later, David and Stanley commissioned another barge from Short Bros, Lady Jean, similarly named after Stanley’s eldest daughter and launched in 1926.

The Lady Daphne transferred to Lillian Bradley on the death of her husband David in 1928. Lillian sold Lady Daphne to R&W Paul, the maltsters, in 1937. Thomas Watson (Shipping) ultimately owned 55 sailing barges and 39 coasters along the Medway and Thames. The firm closed in 2000. While technically going through a number of R&W Paul companies, Lady Daphne was with the maltsters till her sale to Taylor Woodrow and St Katharine’s Yacht Haven in 1973. Lady Daphne was sold to Elisabeth and Michael Mainelli in 1996 who undertook major restoration and chartered her out of London.  From 2017 she has been owned by Andrew Taylor and Samantha Howe.

Lady Daphne was known as the “lucky Lady Daphne” for an extraordinary incident. On Boxing Day 1927 the skipper was washed overboard and two crew abandoned her off the Cornish coast, but Lady Daphne, guided by the skipper’s canary, sailed herself through the rocks of the Scilly Isles onto a few tens of yards of safe sand. In the 1920’s she acquired a reputation as “the fastest barge in the three channels”. Lady Daphne has been associated for a quarter of a century with the redevelopment of St Katharine’s by the Tower and is a famous London fixture – the Queen Mother has visited her; numerous articles have covered her sailing ability; she has appeared in plenty of film and television shows, including Heir Hunters, Daniel Deronda, and Britain Afloat!


[As related by Mark Bradley, nephew of Daphne neé Bradley by virtue of being the son of Peter Bradley, her brother, and with many thanks to Ken Garret, who wrote the definitive book on Thomas Watson (Shipping) – K S Garrett, Thomas Watson, World Ship Society, 2002, ISBN: 0-905617-84-3.]