Coordinates: 51°30′35″N 0°05′33″W / 51.5096°N 0.0924°W / 51.5096; -0.0924

The Little Ship Club is a yacht club in London. It was founded in 1926 by a group of yachtsmen for the purpose of providing training and lectures over the winter months. The club operates from its riverside clubhouse at Bell Wharf on the River Thames, and is the only one operating from within the City of London.[1]

Little Ship Club
Little ship club burgee.gif
LSC Ensign.png
Short nameLSC
Location London, United Kingdom
WebsiteOfficial website

The Little Ship Club shares its current space with the City Livery Club since 2010[2]. Joint dinners and other events are sponsored on occasion to promote interest and friendship between the two Club tenants at the Bell Wharf Lane location.


The club's inaugural meeting was at The Ship restaurant in London on 5 November 1926. Notable founder members included Claud Worth, Maurice Griffiths, and Higley Halliday.[3] The training function of the club was so successful that, by 1936, they were training members of the Royal Naval Supplementary Volunteer Reserve Force (RNSVR).[4] As a result, the First Sea Lord invited the club to apply for a defaced blue ensign. This is the only known instance of such an invitation being made.[5] The close link with the RNSVR led to Little Ship Club members taking part in the World War II evacuation of Dunkirk in which the military commandeered hundreds of private "little" ships to bring troops from land to larger navy vessels that could not pull in close to shore.[6] The club still includes what is possibly one of the original Dunkirk Little Ships, Sheemaun.[7] Two defaced blue ensigns that were recovered from the beach at Dunkirk are displayed at the club.[citation needed]

The club moved to the Old Ship tavern in 1928, and from there to Beaver Hall in 1932, as member numbers expanded.[8] In 1962, the club moved to Bell Wharf Lane.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first yachtsman to complete a non-stop single-handed circumnavigation, became club President in 1995.[9] There are also two Honorary Life Vice-Presidents: Dr Jean Plancke, Commander of the Legion of Honour, and Norman Hummerstone MBE.[10] Norman Hummerstone was honoured with an MBE in 2001 for his work with the Little Ship Club[11] and was awarded an RYA Lifetime Commitment award by Princess Anne in 2007.[12]

In early 2017, it was announced that, following the retiral of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Mike Golding would take on the role of Club President.[13]

The 2017 Commodore is Anne Billard.


The Little Ship Club is an official RYA training centre. They offer shorebased RYA courses from their London premises including Day Skipper Theory and Yachtmaster Theory.[14]


The club has two cruising bases, one on the East Coast of England, and one on the South Coast, centred around the Solent. Both cruising centres have participated in the Calais Rally each year on the weekend of the Spring Bank Holiday since 1929,[15] except when not possible during wartime. The rally is attended by HMS Puncher in recognition of the club's relationship with the University Royal Naval Unit in London.[16][17][18]

The club holds a biannual joint rally with The Corinthians club, a reciprocal club based in the USA that was modeled along the same lines as the Little Ship Club.[19] It is held alternately in the US and in the UK, or nearby cruising grounds.[20]


The club organises an informal Fast Cruise series over the winter months around the Solent. These run monthly from October until March. They do not follow full racing rules, but are a timed cruise with a strong social element.[citation needed]

They are also joint organisers, with Erith Yacht Club, of the Thames Trafalgar Race.[21][22] This is a two-leg event from Greenwich to Erith, with a return the next day.[23] It is generally held in October close to Trafalgar Day. The Knox-Johnston Cup, named for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, is awarded to the highest placed yacht club.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ City Livery Club history Wiki and CLC website
  3. ^ "Cartoon". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  4. ^ "VI. Little Ship Club". M.Y. Seran.
  5. ^ "Little Ship Club (United Kingdom)".
  6. ^ "How the LSC got involved in the Dunkirk little ships".
  7. ^ "Sheemaun". National Historic Ships.
  8. ^ E.G. Martin and John Irving, Cruising and Ocean Racing p. 565, 1945 Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd.
  9. ^ "Welcome". Robin Knox-Johnston.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Birthday Honours 2001".
  12. ^ "Rya Community Awards 2007" (PDF). Royal Yachting Association. 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Mike Golding named new president of the Little Ship Club". Yachts and Yachting Online.
  14. ^ "Little Ship Club Limited – Where's My Nearest – RYA".
  15. ^ E.G. Martin and John Irving, Cruising and Ocean Racing p. 566, 1945 Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd.
  16. ^ "More about the ship – Royal Navy".
  17. ^ "Sail to Calais Rally on HMS Puncher".
  18. ^ "London Flotilla – Haul Down".
  19. ^ Pasley, Linda Campitelli. "History".
  20. ^ Yachting Monthly Magazine, Oct 2004, Dick Durham[better source needed]
  21. ^ "Thames Trafalgar Race 2013 launch at the London Boat Show". Yachts and Yachting Online.
  22. ^ Hodgetts, Laura (18 October 2013). "Thames Trafalgar Race will set sail in London". Practical Boat Owner. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Yacht race commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar – Practical Boat Owner". 22 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will present the 'Knox-Johnston Cup'". Boat-Zone. 17 July 2013. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2017.

External linksEdit