A Brief introduction to the Clyde 19-24 ft Class.
The Clyde 19-24 ft class was formed at a conference of the Clyde Yacht clubs in 1896. The boats were designed to replace the earlier 17-19 ft class which were considered to have reached the limit of their development after Hatasoo, designed by William Fife, had swept the fleet. Hatasoo is still in use, and Fricka (a sister yacht) is now on display at the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth, although sadly no longer sailing.
Both rules were relatively simple and allowed for development of the hull shape within the constraints of length on deck, waterline length and sail area. A sagitta measurement was introduced to ensure adequate displacement which was later adopted for the International Six Metre Class rule introduced in 1906. There was also a ban on fin keels, defined as a hollow in the profile, as the aim was to produce a wholesome type of boat. Writing in the Yachting Monthly in November 1947, John A. Stewart, the photographer, points out that in the early days of the Six Metres the difference in speed between the two classes was a moot point.
Any historical account of a class is incomplete without considering its social context. Industrial activity in the Clyde area had generated a great deal of wealth and this in turn produced a growth in yachting activity with freedom to experiment on the part of yacht designers and builders. The book 'The Records of the Clyde 19/24 Feet Class' (1926) was written by Prof. John Teacher who I believe to be part of the whisky family. Others involved in the class included the Clark family, the Glasgow cotton dynasty.
One of the yachts featured on this website is Memsahib II built by Ewing and Gruer McGruer at Rutherglen in 1900. She was commissioned by John Keil Tullis, a manufacturer of leather belting for industrial machines, who commissioned several yachts in the early days of Alfred Mylne and McGruers. Indeed, Memsahib I was Alfred Mylne's first racing yacht commission after he had set up shop independently in Hope Street, Glasgow in 1897. As Ian Nicholson, the current owner of Alfred Mylne Ltd points out, Mylne apprenticed with the famous firm of G.L. Watson and his name appears on the drawings of Britannia, commissioned by the Prince of Wales, Edward VII in 1893.
Until relatively recently McGruers were still building yachts and commercial vessels at Clynder and their website still exists. At the time Memsahib II was built, the McGruer brothers were building at Rutherglen. And in the Yachting Monthly of April 1923 Ewing McGruer Junior recalls his father's spectacular launching methods.
The McGruer family had been involved in boatbuilding since the eighteenth century and in the last century produced many innovations in design and construction. Ewing McGruer Junior invented a method of hollow spar building using laminated wood which produced exceptionally light and flexible spars. The method was used to produce spars for Britannia and during the Great War to produce aeroplane struts in McGruers factory in Lambeth. McGruer also produced ice axe handles for Hillary's Everest expedition.
If you own a Clyde19/24, or know the history or the whereabouts of any, please contact;