Our History


The Nottage Maritime Institute was founded in 1896 after a trust fund was left by Captain Charles G. Nottage for the foundation of an institute at which “Colnesiders” could “improve themselves in navigation primarily, or make up their skills generally”.

Captain Nottage was a Victorian army officer, traveller and yacht racer, whose yachts Foxhound and Deerhound were skippered and crewed by professional seamen from the Colne and Blackwater rivers. A council member of the Yacht Racing Association, Captain Nottage held his crews in high regard, and his concern that the professional sailors of his day should be able to further their careers was reflected in the generosity of his legacy.

Following his death, at the tragically early age of 42, the Institute which bears his name was created. Since 1896 the Nottage Maritime Institute has taught generations of professional seamen, fishermen and yachtsmen the skills of navigation and seamanship. Originally established in the “Lucy Dee” – the three storey building next door to the Black Buoy pub – the Institute moved to its present home on Wivenhoe Quay in 1947.

What was once a sail-loft is now a thriving centre for nautical education and maritime heritage, whose large rooms accommodate evening classes, house an extensive maritime library and museum, and whose ground floor is given over entirely to teaching the construction of traditional timber, clinker dinghies.