Diamond Class


The Diamond class was a 27′ GRP sloop designed Alan Buchanan in the early 1960’s. The prototype, Ace of Diamonds, sail number 1, was built in wood by French Brothers of Battlesbridge. This hull was then used to produce a plug for future GRP versions. From 1963 to 1970 Ace of Diamonds was owned by Tom Layzell. The fourth photo above shows Tom at the helm, with son Ken crewing. Reproduced with kind permission of Ken Layzell.

The Mk I boats had a fractional rig, with a jumper strut. This can be seen quite clearly in the photo of Ace of Diamonds. Ellen and Double Diamond were other examples of the Mk I. The Mk II boats, such as Patience, had a masthead rig.

Around a dozen Diamonds were made by Stebbings and then production switched from Stebbings to Offshore Yachts Ltd., where the yacht became known as the Halcyon 27. This happened around 1966. This switch of builders and class names can lead to confusion when trying to identify early Halcyon 27’s and late Diamond’s.

The Diamonds that I’ve come across so far are,

Sail No. Name Notes
1 Ace of Diamonds Prototype, built in wood by french Bros., still sailing somehwere on the East coast.
1066 Double Diamond Later renamed Hastings. Sailing from Bandol, France.
3 Ellen Still sailing, in the Bristol Channel.
4 Summer’s Song For sale in the Humberside area (Autumn 2015)
5 Lil of Bargander Raced at Cowes Week 1965. Originally owned by Len Wakefield of Thames Structural Plastics. Renamed Cabaret in 1968 and at some point ownership passed to Dame Ellen MacArthur’s aunt. Cabaret was the first boat Dame Ellen sailed in, aged 4. These days Cabaret sails out of Gravesend.
1858C Patience Originally named Tiara, still sailing on the Clyde. Photos here.
10? Solitaire These days sailing out of Gairloch, Wester Ross, Scotland.
? Magyar of Burnham Unusual 6-berth version built in 1966 for Mr and Mrs Spannenburg.
? Sundiver Currently sailing in the Netherlands. Previous names: Mona and Ithaka. Photos of her renovation here.

Photos are copyright of Trevor Davies, reproduced with kind permission. Thanks to Ken Layzell for his help with this post, and also to Norbert Koster, Reuben, Conrad, and Aileen and Nathan Taylor for getting in touch about their Diamonds.

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14 Responses to Diamond Class

  1. Peter MacDonald says:

    Solitaire is alive and well presently owned by Peter and Dyllis MacDonald and Janet and Douglas Miles . We live in Gairloch Wester Ross and sail west coast waters. Just in the process of buying a new main sail and hoping to have the D and diamond logo on the sail. The present sail has No 10 on it but don’t know if this is genuine. Would anybody know the right number.

    • Pete Shepherd says:

      Hi Peter, Good to hear about Solitaire. There’s every chance that 10 is the correct, original sail number, but I don’t have any documents to confirm this. Regards, Pete Shepherd (Stebbings Archive).

  2. Jim wilkie says:

    Hi, I am the current owner of summers song. The work has just begun will keep posted. JW

  3. Ken Layzell says:

    Good . we have made contact!

    Main site Ace of Diamonds NOT Spades !

    Only one in wood. First few Diamonds were 3/4 jumper strut rig. Mk 2 refers to later MASTHEAD versions D. D . and Ellen were for example were
    Mk 1 s.

    Ace of D. Built 1962 by Les French of French Bros of Battlesbridge. John French ( tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in his 20 s ) told that he remembered going to timber merchants in Blackmore, I think, to buy the wood for the keel.

    Built on the old dance floor in the building.
    Iroko c/l , mahogany planking, afromosia brightwork, lead keel. Stuart 4, later changed to a Stuart 8 Oliver Lee I think drew up the plans when he was working for Buchanan. He is on board in the T. Davies photos. He raced her Burnham Week in 1962 without much success. Could also be Les French too.

    Kept at N. Fambridge for many years
    , she has recently been sold away up the East Coast and name changed to ???

    The link between Stebbings and French Bros. was that they were both owned in the early sixties by a businessman – Jim Rodger. He was also a partner with A. J. Meiklejohn at North Fambridge Yacht Station. He lived at Creeksea.

    L. A. D. Wakefield owned Lil of Bargander in 1965 when she raced at Cowes. Was he directer at Thames Structural Plastics ? Were they the moulders?

    • pete_shep says:

      Thanks Ken, this is really helpful. I’ll build the information into the page Diamond pages. Goodness knows what I was thinking writing Ace of Spades. I must have been listening to too much Motorhead.

      The Lloyds Register has Double Diamond’s hull recorded as coming from Power Marine, of Crawley. Len Wakefield was a director at Thames Structural Plastics, Canvey Island (later renamed Thames Marine), and Thames Marine did make hulls for Offshore Yachts when the Diamond became the Halcyon 27, I think. It’s a bit confusing because I think Thames Marine and Power Marine were sister companies (Mike Davies has written about this).

      Haven Mouldings now occupy the old Thames Marine factory on Canvey Island. I understand that at least a couple of the men there used to work at Thames Marine.

      Pete

  4. Ken Layzell says:

    Diamond 5 Lil of Bargander . Raced in Cowes Week 1965

    • pete_shep says:

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks very much for this information. I’ll add Lil of Bargander to the boat list. I’ve contacted the marine photographers Beken of Cowes to see if they have a photo of her.

      Kind regards,
      Pete

  5. Ken Layzell says:

    Other Bonitos Toku and Floray

  6. Ken Layzell says:

    First bonito. The plug and yacht Pineapple Poll owned by the late Dr. Alan Eley

  7. Ken Layzell says:

    No mention of the Holliwell Class ?

    • pete_shep says:

      Hi Ken,

      Not yet, I’m afraid. I’m still trying to gather information about the Holliwell. Do you know how many were made? They rarely appear for sale. One example, lying at Fowey, was for sale a couple of years ago, but the photographs didn’t give away a sail number or name.

      There was an example exhibited at Earl’s Court (http://www.stebbings-archive.net/?p=200). I have a few other photos taken by Trevor Davies for advertising and magazine use. I’ll put them on the web site soon.

      Kind regards,
      Pete Shepherd

  8. Ken Layzell says:

    1st Diamond – Ace of Diamonds

    2nd Double Diamond

    3rd Ellen

    • pete_shep says:

      Hi Ken,

      Ellen is still sailing, on the Bristol Channel.

      Kind regards,
      Pete

    • Ricard bruno says:

      I am the présent owner of Hastings ex double diamond, based in Bandol France.

      I can send pictures of this boat, who is today in excellent conditions.

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