top of page

Feock Trails - History Information

Restronguet Creek


Shipbuilding in Feock


In the 19th century shipbuilding became a major industry for the parish of Feock. In one year alone, 1877, four schooners were launched; the J.W.T at Pill (100 tons), the Mary & Julia at Devoran (136 tons), the William & John at Roundwood (83 tons) and the Hetty at Yard Point near Penpoll (100 tons).


An early shipbuilding dynasty which survived throughout the century was that of the Ferris family. Thomas, Peter and William (Foreman) Ferris started at Pill but also built at Yard Point in Trolver Croft, Penpoll. In the 1850s John Stephens took over Yard Point and many schooners were built there including the Rhoda Mary. William Ferris designed and built this ship which was reputed to be one of the fastest and finest of all schooners built in Cornwall. It is commemorated within the Feock Parish Council coat of arms.





The following record was written by the Feock Local History Group in 1973, a full series of articles by the group can be viewed on the Feock Trails Historical Reference Library option within the Parish Website.


During the 19th century Small ships were built at many sites on all rivers and estuaries so that it is not surprising to find that there were several yards even in one parish. The most important building site was at Penpoll, where the location is still known as Yard Point, there were also building sites at Pill, Devoran, Cowlands and Roundwood.



The earliest record of building that have found so far was at Pill, where the following builders worked: -

(a) Hitchins and Ford

1819 William Thomas Barge 37 tons.

1877 J.W. T. Schooner 100 tons.

1879 Lizzie Edith Schooner 90 tons.


(b) William Hodge

1865 Glenfeadon Schooner 128 tons.

1865 A.D. Gilbert Schooner 177 tons.


(c) Charles Burt

1879 Reaper Schooner 91 tons.



Devoran was not a very convenient site for ship building as there was little depth of water and no good place for building slips, nevertheless, several ships were built there: -

(a) W. Stephens, Jnr.

1844 owner unknown, smack tonnage unknown

(b) Ricard Gilbert

1881 R. H. G. Ketch 45 tons.


(c) Hugհ Eddy Stephens

1869 Enterprise Smack 53 tons

1870 Annie Sloop 15 tons

1875 Maggie Schooner 12 tons

1875 Mary Smack 25 tons

1877 Mary & Julia Schooner 136 tons

1878 P. H. Stephens Schooner 85 tons


H. E. Stephens built on a site near Tallack’s creek which can still be seen, and lived in one of the Cottages at Carnon Mine.


Roundwood Quay (Cowlands Creek)

(a) J. Wellington

l872. W. R. T. Schooner 60 tons

1876 Bushman Schooner Unknown tonnage


(b) W. M. Burley & W. Hitchins

1877 William & John Schooner 83 tons


(c) H. S. Trethowan

1876 Flora - Schooner 99 tons


Launches unfinished at Little Falmouth and completed at Roundwood.



The site at Yard Point seems to have been used for ship building from an early date and members of the Ferris family were connected with it for many years. The early records showing builders names can be confusing and it is not easy to confirm the attributions to individual members of the Ferris family. There is also doubt sometimes whether a ship was built at Point or Pill.

According to Mr. Ben Ferris of Carnon Mine the Ferris family were running the yard when it was taken over by Mr. John Stephens in 1859 and William Ferris, known as "Foreman Ferris' stayed on there as designer and foreman throughout John Stephens' time, J. Stephens lived at “Valletort", St. Johns Terrace, Devoran.


(a) Thomas Ferris

1836 Two Brothers Smack 37 tons

1842 Elizabeth Ann Schooner 83 tons

1851 Clipper Schooner 114 tons

1853 Morwenna Schooner 51 tons

1854 William Henry Schooner 102 tons

1855 Jane & Catherine Schooner 99 tons

1896 Cock of the Walk Schooner 143 tons

1856 Mary Ann' Smack 33 tons

1856 Symmetry Cutter 30 tons

1857 March Hare Schooner 104 tons


This yard was advertised for sale 23/07/1859 (R.C.G.)

(b) Peter Ferris

1806 Caroline - Barge 43 tons

1819 William Thomas Barge 37 tons

1832 Union Barge 37 tons

1834 Amelia Smack 49 tons

1855 Mary Schooner 67 tons

1855 Weasel Schooner 81 tons

1855 Ariel Schooner 24 tons

1858 J. S. Τ. Schooner 127 tons

1858 Commodore Cutter 34 tons

1861 Charles Gray Smack 54 tons

1862 Deerfoot Schooner 129 tons

1865 Dream (yacht) Schooner 41 tons

(Some of these may have been built at Pill)


(c) William Ferris

1885 Cormorant Yawl 4.4 tons


(d) Willian Sara Martin

1861 Fear Not Cutter 21 tons

1861 Cordelia Williams Schooner 76 tons

1864 Golden Light Schooner 120 tons


(e) John Stephens

1859 Primus Schooner 59 tons

1865 Kate Sloop 19 tons

1866 Racer Schooner 67 tons

1867 Arrow (yacht) Schooner 17 tons

1868 Rhoda Mary schooner 150 tons

1869 North Star Steamer 29 tons

1870 Nelly Schooner 105 tons

1870 R.K.P. Schooner 76 tons

187l J.W.W. Schooner 75 tons

1872 Fanny Sloop 18 tons

1874 Goonlaze Schooner unknown tonnage

1875 Bessie Schooner 116 tons

1875 Gleaner Smack 42 tons

1876 Lizzie R. Wilce Schooner 175 tons

1877 Hetty Schooner 100 tons

These notes are only an interim result of an incomplete study of the original sources. Much work remains to be done on the written sources and also in discussion with local residents.

Picture of the Lizzie R. Wilce


Sources consulted up to date are: -

  • Lloyds register of shipping. Nat. Maritime Museum.

  • The Merchant Shipping Registers. Nat. Maritime Museum

  • Lloyds Certificates of Registry. Nat. Maritime Museum

  • Wreck Registers. Nat. Maritime Museum

  • Lloyds Shipping Lists. Guildhall Library.

  • Various Documents. County Record Office.

  • Files of the Royal Cornwall. By courtesy of Mr. Douch & Mr. Davies. Gazette & West Briton

  • “Merchant Schooners” by Basil Davidson.

The Rhoda Mary schooner. 150 tons, constructed by John Stephens

Taken from Feock History Notes Part 1 (p33-35)


bottom of page