Skip to main content

Bessie Ellen - 1904 West Country Trading Ketch

Tall Ship Bessie Ellen

This original West Country trading ship was built in Plymouth in 1904 and has had a remarkable working life. She is part of the UK core collection of historic vessels, but Bessie Ellen is no museum ship.  This tough wooden tall ship sails with charter crews around the UK and Europe and now has an ocean - worldwide safety certificate enabling her to seek warmer sailing grounds in winter and offer sailing holidays 11 months of the year.

Bessie Ellen worked with Classic Sailing from 2004-2016. She makes an excellent case study of how Classic Sailing marketing expertise has helped this privately owned 114 year old wooden sailing ship build up a customer base large enough to fill a summer and winter sailing season. Owner Nikki Alford is now working independently from The Classic Sailing Fleet and going from strength to strength.

Classic Sailing are proud to have made a substantial contribution to the income stream of Bessie Ellen - one of the last surviving West Country Trading Ketches.

Bessie Ellen and Irene together in the mist
Bessie Ellen and Irene together in the mist

Our current aim is to create a similar success story for another West Country Trading Ketch 1907 Irene of Bridgewater. Irene has been a private family owned vessel, film star and a charter vessel for many years. The next generation in the family are now getting to grips with carving a distinctive niche for Irene and a new chapter in her working life.

We have been offering Irene's sailing voyages for 3 years. She is different from Bessie Ellen with double ensuite cabins and a owners stateroom you can book, but on deck she is pure West Country Trader.


Relevant voyages

What others say about us


Facebook reviews

"A life changing experience with talented crew who gave us hope for mankind ...and biscuits"

Customer comments

Read what the press say about our holidays

Magazine articles


Why book with Classic Sailing?

The call of the sea

Destinations for sailors & explorers

Over 300 voyages a year

11, 051 customers introduced to

traditional boats and tall ships.

Tell us your sailing dreams


Office Team of Skippers

6 Times Around the World between Us

Selling Holidays for 22 Years

2 Dogs to make us laugh

Contact Us

How to Book

Voyage Applications Online 24 /7

How to book a voyage

Terms & Conditions   Travel Insurance

Loyalty Discounts & Price Match

Frequently Asked Questions