2024 marks the centenary of the production of the first West Wight scows, designed by Theo Osborn Smith, of Yarmouth, Isle of Wight - who was also responsible for building the Yarmouth One Design fleet, and many fast racing yawls and others in Oxford in the 1880s and 1890s. This book  commemorates that, and the centenary of Theo's death in May 1924, and explores the history of Theo's family, in the context of their times. 

A vivid account of the lives of Theo Osborn Smith, boat builder, designer and inventor, and his family. Much of the story is seen through the eyes of his wife, Mary Piper, and their daughter Evie, and interwoven with history and contemporary events on the banks of the Severn in Gloucestershire, in the city of Oxford, Fawley in Hampshire, and Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. The book is richly illustrated with over 250 images, many never published before.

Theo, and his brother Harry, were renowned in their day as the innovators of the planing hull for racing dinghies, and many other developments in yacht design. Their lasting legacies include the Yarmouth One Design and West Wight scow, and innumerable other boats, as well as the boatbuilding careers of Theo’s son and grandsons. Meanwhile, the legacy of Mary and Evie Smith, and the rest of the family, is a vast hoard of letters and other ephemera, recording the minutiae of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Available from my online shop:
E-book edition – ISBN: 978-1-8380136-6-0
Format: PDF e-book; 404 pages
File size: 62.5 MB
Paperback edition – ISBN: 978-1-8380136-9-1

ERRATA
Page 29, para. 1: It’s stated that Emily Osborn likely worked for Morley Brothers bookbinders. It is possible she instead worked for the Oxford University Press.

Page 118, para. 4: The article in the Dragon School magazine of 2006, concerning the Blue Dragon, is quoted as from an un-named author; the author was in fact David Gilbertson.

Page 207, drawing: my wobbly drawing is based upon a public domain image created by Willhig: tinyurl.com/willhig

Page 365, para. 2: A.H. Bullen & Frank Sidgwick. The newspaper article quoted claimed that Frank Sidgwick was the real name of the publisher A. H. Bullen; as is stated elsewhere in the text, the two men were in fact business partners – see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Henry_Bullen

Page 366, para. 1, line 2: “between 1893 and 1995” should read “between 1893 and 1895”.

Revised 10/04/2024. Any further corrections will be notified here.

All content © Robin Somes unless otherwise indicated.