Auto Da Fe HH12 is a 40ft bawley built by John Henry Vaux, Harwich in 1886.
Along with SB Thalatta, she could be one of the last examples of a vessel built in this yard. Auto Da Fe (Act of Faith) was built for the very well known fishing Good family who owned and worked her up until 1953, nearly 70 years. Being Harwich built, owned and worked makes her very rare but it doesn’t stop there.
Built to go long lining, trawling ,dredging and shrimp trawling, her rig layout was an exception from other remaining bawleys with a fore and aft with mizzen and boom. Her tiller was a wrought iron tiller cranked to accommodate the mizzen mast which was stepped on the aft deck.
Her vital stats are 39.9 ‘ in length, keel 37’, 12.5’ breadth and 4.5’ depth. Known as the fastest bawley of her time, winner of many regattas, she could well be the oldest surviving Harwich workboat. Built at a yard that had a long Heritage in schooners that were built to travel across the seas of the world, these ships were used in the spice trade to Bombay and even further to New Zealand so it is intriguing whether these builders brought elements to their domestic working vessels that we don’t see at other yards. John Henry Vaux was a very influential member of Harwich Victorian society being an Alderman and Mayor no less than six times before his relative early death in 1894 age 54. The yard was taken over by Thalatta’s builder W.M McLearon in 1897 who himself was mayor five times.
She still survives to this day in her berth at Ipswich Marina however it would be hard to identify her as the working vessel she once was but clearly dearly loved.
Photo shows James Good having salvaged a yacht with his bawley at Harwich c.1907.
Thank you to Essex Heritage Workboats for their research along with David Patient and the Harwich Society.