Nellie & Leslie BN27 is a 53ft Worfolk smack built in 1914.
The boat was used for fishing anything from sprat to shrimp, and made regular trips into the Wash, and up the East Coast towards Grimsby on occasion too, serving Sweet Tea faithfully for over 20 years. Disaster struck the boat when it collided with another vessel in heavy fog in the Wash, and eventually sank. Fellow fisherman Albert Bagley heard about the wreck and decided to rescue the boat, returning her to Boston to patch her up. Albert used the boat from 1932, even equipping her with a Sherman tank engine sourced from GM, used in some of the earliest tanks during the war. “She was the fastest thing on the Wash at the time.” recalled Albert’s son, Ken, who worked on the boat alongside brother Steven until 1979. “She would achieve over 30 knots and was really well-known both in Boston and further up the East Coast at Grimsby docks.”
Her career on the Wash nearing its end, Nellie & Leslie was sold to a businessman from Lowestoft for just £250, and was eventually purchased by a trio of German marine engineers who were looking for an excuse to keep in touch following their engineering studies and were looking for a project on which they could work during their spare time.
As part of their fact-finding mission, the German engineers visited Boston, and met up with both Ken and Steven who remembered their workshop contained a few of the boat’s original elements, including the original sails.
“They went absolutely wild!” said Ken. “They were really keen that lots of reclaimed materials should be used, and the idea that their new engine could be supplemented by its original sails delighted them!”
The Germans took the sails back to Bremerhaven and made a final promise to Ken and Steven; they’d return to Boston to celebrate its centenary in exactly the same year that Ken and Steven Bagley’s father, Albert, would also have celebrated his 100th birthday.
The sailors kept their promise and sailed into Boston in 2011 with a much transformed Nellie & Leslie — the boat’s sale being made on the condition that its name would remain. Nellie & Leslie now boasted a brand new deck crafted in African teak, and a new Mercedes engine with 80hp.