The 1913 Cox & King Catalogue
of Yachts and Motor Boats
Yacht brokers, surveyors and designers
by François Grosjean1 (with the help of Paul W. Gockel and Wendy Schnur)
Cox & King were a London based firm in the late 19th and early 20th Century with a number of activities: yacht brokers, surveyors, designers, auctioneers, but also responsible for fitting out and laying up yachts.
They first appeared in the Lloyd's Register of Yachts in 1878 and the original owners were Gustavus Pratt and Sidney Depree. The location they occupied for some 40 years was 5, Suffolk Street, Pall Mall, London, but they also had offices in Wivenhoe, Essex, where they did the fitting-out and laying-up of their yachts. From 1916 to 1925, boat building even took place in Wivenhoe.
Cox & King became famous due to the graceful yacht designs of Joseph Edwin Wilkins who was their naval architect for some 15 years until 1908. He was responsible for the design of many of the firm's famous yachts presented in their 1913 catalogue.
Francis Gordon Pratt, the son of Gustavus Pratt, and himself a registered naval architect, joined the firm at about the time Wilkins left. He concentrated on motor yachts, fast launches and racing motor boats. He raced some of the latter (e.g. the Tyreless series) in Monte Carlo as well as in the United States (Harmsworth Cup).
Towards the end of World War I, Francis Gordon Pratt became the sole owner of Cox & King (his father died in 1917) and the firm entered a difficult period: the war and the financial crisis in the late 1920s reduced the demand for yachts; brokers were by-passed by buyers who went straight to the builders; and the firm itself was embroiled in law suits with the British Admiralty. The last Cox & King entry in Lloyd's was in 1939.
Francis Gordon Pratt continued his career as a naval architect for a number of years (see his Tarret, an experimental motor torpedo boat, for example). He died in 1965 and is buried in Richmond, Surrey, England. For more details on his life, see his entry in Grace's Guide to British Industrial History.
1François Grosjean is the great-grandson, and grandson, of Gustavus Pratt and Francis Gordon Pratt, respectively.
Site composed by François Grosjean (with the help of Marc Grosjean)