Lillibullero was built in Boston (Lincolnshire), 1932, by A.M (Alexander) Gostelow for Mr W.H Johnston. A.M Gostelow was born in 1880 in Rosegarth Street, Boston. Between 1901 and 1948 when he died, A.M Gostelow built about 28 fishing smacks and 15 yachts.
Lillibullero was built as the second of three sister ships. The third yacht of this threesome, Eleanor, which was slightly bigger was sailed to North America in 1978/1979 but struck a reef in the Caribbean and sank. The first of the three sisters was Privateer. She was built in 1931 for H.A Kemlo, an Ipswich solicitor. For a long time (1966 - 1998) Privateer was owned by Martin Eve who recorded his adventures with Privateer in 'An Old Gaffer's Tale' (Seafarer Books, 1984). The book shows a picture of Lillibullero moored at Pin Mill on the River Orwell just before she was sold in 1977 to a Dutch owner. Lillibullero and Privateer met again at the Shotley Point Classic Boat festival in 1995.
W.H Johnston gave a fine account of building and fitting out Lillibullero in the classic book 'Building a Little Ship' (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1935). A first print copy of the book, signed by the author, belongs to the ship's inventory. In this book Mr Johnston wanted to show 'that a decent cruising yacht with engine and all the necessary equipment could be built and fitted out for the price of a medium-sized car.' That is in the 1930s. Actually the building and fitting out of Lillibullero summed up to £298 and two shillings. Four opening ports that Johnston bought second hand in Brentford remain in use on board.
Lillibullero features in ‘Gaff-rigged out of Boston’, a small paperback by S.R Wright published in 1991. Lillibullero is not known for her famous voyages yet she is a very solid and trustworthy little gaffer.
With her first Dutch owner, Ab Venstra, who bought her on his honeymoon, she was shipwrecked on the East Coast of England. Her transom, several frames and planks were replaced. Ab Venstra also lowered the coachroof before he sailed her back to Holland losing some headroom but gaining a lot in looks. In 1990/1991 she needed major maintenance.
Peter Kruitwagen and Gosine Broersen replaced her stem timber, cockpit and interior. They also repaired several frames and planks. Over the years (1990-2010) Peter and Gosine replaced about 30% of her hull planking. During the 1990s Lillibullero has been back to England twice to visit the Shotley Classic Boat and Beer festival. She also attended every Dutch Classic Yacht Regatta at Hellevoetsluis from 1991 to 2009.