'Bird of Dawning' was launched in 1937 at Paglesham in Essex, and was built by Frank Shuttlewood in the old black shed (constructed partly out of the timber from Darwin’s 'Beagle') that still stands by the side of the river Roach. H Kemloe, her first owner, enjoyed only a couple of years with her before the war that sadly killed him intervened. She spent the war years on the beach at Whitstable in the yard of R J Dudley & Perkins, well covered up and maintained.
The Shuttlewood family were builders of smacks and Thames barges, but as the demand for those declined after the First World War the family was forced to diversify, and in the growth of yachting they seized an opportunity.
Though 'Bird of Dawning' looks to all intents and purposes like an oyster smack, her underwater shape is more yacht like, deeper and with outside ballast. With a fine entry and broad shoulders, she is a fast and seaworthy vessel.
In 1946 Julian Mannering's father, John, bought her and sailed her, engineless, out of Dover for twenty years. She was bought by Wilf James in 1966 who kept her on the Blackwater. He sold her to John Harris in 1985 and she then passed to Chris and Sue Briggs in 1993.
She was purchased by Julian and Amanda Mannering in 1997 and has, since then, been based at Hollowshore just off the River Swale.
Sails are by Steve Hall of North Sea Sails in Tollesbury, and all traditionally finished. Her cruising grounds are the Thames estuary, the Channel and the nearby continental coasts.