Dixon Kemp (1839 - 21 November 1899)

Biographical Notes:

An eminent authority on yachts and yachting has passed away by the death, on Wednesday morning last, of Mr. Dixon Kemp. In him there was the rare combination of editor and yacht builder. He was born in 1839 at Ryde, and was therefore sixty years of age at the time of his death. For three years - 1859-62 - he was editor of the Isle of Wight Observer, and from that time forward he was yachting editor of the Field. He published a number of books relating to yachts and shipping, many of which are now classical, and largely helped to found, and was for many years secretary of the Yacht Racing Asqociation. He also was largely instrumental in establishing "Lloyd's Yacht Register." He was a member of the Institution of Naval Architects, and was responsible for the design of many of our finest steam and sailing yachts. (The Engineer, 24 Nov. 1899.)

In 1875, he became first Secretary of the Yacht Racing Association. A series of short-lived, relatively poor, rating formulae advanced by this governing body led to the emergence of extreme types and very lightly built yachts.

In 1877, he became a member of the first board of the Yacht Registration Society under the chairmanship of the Marquis of Exeter.

Designed BELUGA, a 56-ton cutter, built by Payne for Francis Barratt of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.

1887, delivered "50 years of yacht building" (available here in pdf format) to the Institution of Naval Architects, the same year that he introduced an improved measurement rule in England that abandoned the excessive penalty for beam.

1892, designed the FIRECREST, 39' x 30' x 8'6" x 7', built by P.T. Harris, Rowhedge, Essex, later well known in the hands of Alain Gerbault.

It is widely written that everything the the designer of the BLUENOSE, William J. Roué knew about boat design he had learned from one book, Dixon Kemp's Yacht Architecture.


Yacht Designing: a Treatise on the practical application of the Scientific Principles upon which is based the art of designing yachts, London: "The Field" Office, 346, Strand, W.C, 1st ed 1876, x, [2], 118, xxiv pp. (Morris and Howland p.77)


A Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing, Dixon Kemp, London, "The Field" Office, 1878, 1st edition, tall 8vo, 388, 12 adv, errata slip, 25 plates, 125 Text Illus.

  • Do., "The Field" Office, London, 1880, hardcover "New edition". Very large thick 8vo. xii, 586pp. incl. index, [14]pp. of illustrated publishers adverts. 48 plates many of them folding, numerous ills. + diagrams in text.
  • Do., 4th ed, London: Horace Cox, 1884
  • Do., 5th ed, Horace Cox. London. 1886 Octavo, 676 pages
  • Do., 7th ed., 1891, xii, 736 pp. plus 8 pp ads. 101 folding plates, 392 eng.figs and diags in text (Toy 2152)
  • Do., 8th ed 1895 London: Horace Cox, large octavo. xii, 732pp, 12 pp pub. ads. 124 plates. Revised and re-written. Also: revamped by Ashford Press Publishing, 1988, 612pp + 130 plans. Landscape format 365mm x 270mm. A collection of plans annotated by John Leather.
  • Do., 10th rev, ed., 1904. 671pp. 108 folding plates. 350 eng.figs and diags in text
  • Do., 11th ed, 1913, edited by B. Heckstall Smith and Linton Hope.

Yacht Architecture: A Treatise on the laws which govern the resistance of bodies moving in water; propulsion by steam and sail; yacht designing; and yacht building. Kemp, Dixon, Horace Cox London, 1885, First edition. XII, 470pp. Adverts.84 mostly folding plates (2 colour folding). 184 text illustrations.

  • Do., London, Horace Cox, 2nd ed 1891. Hardcover xvi, 528 [12, ads] pp. Partly re-written, revised, and enlarged.
  • Do., 3rd ed., 1897, set of 2 volumes. The work was written as a successor to Yacht Designing, published in 1876. 548 pp. 228 figs in text, plus c120 folded plans.

Practical Boat Building and Sailing. Containing Full Instructions for Designing and Building Punts, Skiffs, Canoes, Sailing Boats, &c., Particulars of the Most Suitable Sailing Boats and Yachts for Amateurs and Instructions for Their Proper Handling: Neison, Adrian; Kemp, Dixon; and Davies, G. Christopher, London L. Upcott, 1st ed. 1881. Part 1. Boat Building 108 pp: Part 2. Boat Sailing 198pp, +16pp ads, many diagrams, 3 fold out plans


Part 1 of above republished as:

Practical Boat Building for Amateurs; 1st edition (year?), London: L. Upcott Gill, 108pp +ads; was by Adrian Neison, subsequently revised by Dixon Kemp.

  • Do., Kemp, Dixon; illus by Neison, Adrian; L. Upcott Gill, Drury Lane, London, 1901, New and revised edition, 106pp plus 16 pp ads

Yacht architecture. Yacht and boat sailing. Edition française. Traduite, annotée et augmentée par MM. Boyn et Martinenq. 1st part: Architecture et construction. 2nd part: Navigation à Voile et à Vapeur. KEMP, Dixon, Paris, Bernard et Cie, 1895. 4 volumes. Texte: 2 vol. gr. in-8 de VIII-441 et [11] (pl. dépliantes)-412 pp., Planches: 2 vol. in-4 en ff. de 77 et 133 planches (Polak 4844).

  • Do., 2nd ed., 1896, Paris, Bernard et Cie, [Vol 2, 120, 33 French plans, facsimile by Chasse-Marée, 1993]



This is a work in progess, to rationalise, facilitate and expand our existing pages. Some pages are very recent, some date back twenty years and may or may not have been reviewed and/or edited recently; we appreciate any suggestions for improvements.


Naval Marine ArchiveThe Canadian Collection
205 Main Street, Picton, Ontario, K0K2T0, Canada
Telephone: 1 613 476 1177
E-mail: for comments, queries and suggestions.

Copyright © 2023
Naval Marine Archive
The Canadian Collection

Revised: 3 October 2006