St Kilda - 118 The High Street

The house is possibly named after the yacht St Kilda

High Street Research Team

The house called St Kilda, originally home to Capt Wm Ham a skipper of the racing yacht Pearl
Broadside view of the yacht Pearl near Calshot Castle, Southampton River
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Steam yachts laid up against the sea wall for the winter in their soft mud berths
Wivenhoe Memories Collection

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How the house came to be named St Kilda is not clear. One possible connection is that St Kilda is part of the archipelago in the Outer Hebrides. Yachts frequently landed at St Kilda and the Marquis of Anglesey was one of the yacht owners to have sailed there. It may be that William Ham Snr was in his employment during this time and took the island’s name for his house.

Another possibility, which is also connected to the island, St Kilda. William Ham skippered 3 successive yachts owned by E J Allcard. There is a newspaper article which states that E J Allcard came from St Kilda.

But there is also the fact that one of the yachts that he owned was named St Kilda – a 142 ton, 100 foot long yacht (official number 93931) designed by St Clare John Byrne and built in Glasgow by  J Reid & Company in 1887. That William Ham skippered this particular yacht is not clear, although as he was employed by EJ Allcard for 24 years, there is a strong possibility that he did skipper this vessel.

St Clare John Byrne was a British Naval architect who specialized in designing luxury yachts during the late Victorian and early Edwardian period. He designed many famous yachts including ‘Sunbeam’ built 1874, which was one of the most famous private yacht of the period. He also designed the ‘Valiant’, a 2148 ton yacht for WK Vanderbilt. It was said to be the largest yacht in the world.

In 1861, St Kilda in Wivenhoe High Street was home to Captain William Ham with his wife Elizabeth and 3 of his children, Elizabeth, William and Clementina. Elizabeth was the daughter of Philip Sainty who built the yacht Pearl  for the Marquis of Anglesey. For a time, William was Captain of the Pearl. His brother, Thomas Leverett Ham, also served aboard the Pearl  before becoming the Captain of the yacht, Water Lily, for 29 years. See the picture of the Pearl  on this page and to read more about the yacht Pearl – click here.

Note:  The picture on the right shows steam yachts laid up for the winter in their soft mud berths. This is roughly where the clubhouse of Wivenhoe Sailing Club is today. The River Colne was much favoured by the owners of these yachts. According to Nick Butler who wrote the Story of Wivenhoe, one of these steam yachts was also called the St Kilda.

Captain William Ham was Secretary of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society for 27 years between 1871-1908. Many local residents benefited from the Society during this period. In 1881, when severe gales caused the loss of sailors on board ships, the Society distributed funds to the wives and orphans who had lost husbands and fathers. This money  would have made a great difference to these families at such a time.

In 1911, William’s son, William Henry and his wife Emmeline, were living at St Kilda, the house in the High Street and home of his childhood.

More recently, and run for the first time in 2016, the St Kilda Challenge was a yacht race covering over 100 nautical miles of open sea and yachts sailed to the archipelago in the Outer Hebrides. The islands were used as the turning point on the course.

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This page was added on 09/08/2018.

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