The 31ft Nightfall is a gaff cutter built in 1910 at Oulton Broad, Norfolk by Frederick Miller. She was an auxiliary shoal-draft cruiser design by naval architect, Harold H Lidstone, based in Cowes (Isle of Wight). Originally named Nautilus, she was constructed to a high price for the time (£610) by a yard used to orders for fine ship’s boats. Particularly, for London and Wivenhoe-based steam yacht designers, Cox and King, as well as yachts and Norfolk Broads hiring cruisers. Miller’s daughter Philippa (“Pippa”) became a much loved Broads artist.

Unusual for the times, Nautilus was fitted from new with a 6hp single cylinder 2-stroke petrol auxiliary motor. This was made locally by Boulton & Paul, who were later better known as aircraft builders. The motor was offset to port in the cockpit, belt driving, then a central shaft with a very modern aperture sited propeller. Her commissioning owner WD Silcock of Waveney Sailing Club, Oulton Broad, wanted a finely fitted yacht, capable of being sailed comfortably by him and his wife on both inland and coastal waters. This is how she has continued to be used by a succession of owners to the present day.


Her second owner from 1931, was small boat designer, writer, journalist and luminary, Maurice Griffiths. From here, we are afforded a remarkable insight into Nightfall, as Griffiths renamed her. After 21 years, she was still in fine condition. In a chapter devoted to Nightfall in his 1933 book ‘Ten Small Yachts and Others’, written on board, along with ‘Magic of the Swatchways’, Griffiths describes her in great detail. Also detailed, is the thrill of becoming the owner of such a finely fitted out yacht. Summing up yachts of her ilk he wrote: “These little ships are as desirable as the moon, and about as elusive – bless ’em!”

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