Commemorating Hercules Linton

A look at the life and achievements of Cutty Sark's designer Hercules Linton.

Who was Hercules Linton?

Hercules Linton was the man who designed Cutty Sark. He was born in Inverbervie on the east coast of Scotland on 1 January 1837.

After an apprenticeship at the notable Aberdeen-based clipper-ship building firm Alexander Hall & sons in 1856, Linton moved to Liverpool Underwriters. There, he qualified as a Marine Architect and Surveyor.

After further periods of work in Aberdeen and Glasgow, Linton moved onto Dundee where he took the position of assistant manager at Gourlay Bros’ Camperdown yard. In 1868, Linton formed a shipbuilding partnership with William Dundas Scott, forming the firm Scott & Linton.

Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland in 1876, from 1878 he returned to Glasgow to work as a consulting shipbuilder and engineer. 

In 1880 Linton was at Oswald Mordaunt & Co.’s yard at Woolston, Southampton, possibly working as yard manager, staying until 1884 and then going on to work at Montrose, Bervie and Milford Haven. A further return to Bervie in the 1890s allowed him to move into local politics, and he was elected to the Town Council in 1895. 

He died on 15 May 1900 in the house in which he was born. 


Hercules Linton
Hercules Linton


Designing and building Cutty Sark

Prior to forming a partnership with William Scott, Linton worked in Glasgow building yachts, which is believed to have inspired him in his design of Cutty Sark, aged just 33.

Nine ships were constructed by the firm Scott & Linton, including Cutty Sark - their fifth and largest vessel built for shipping magnate John Willis & Son in 1869, who continued to own the ship until 1895. 

The contract between Scott & Linton and Willis & Son required that Cutty Sark would be completed in six months. It was priced at £17 per ton with a maximum weight of 950 tons, which was a highly competitive price at the time.

However, terminating the ship took longer than expected, as Linton and Scott ran out of money to complete work. 

Eventually, Cutty Sark was terminated in 1869, about six months behind schedule, and it launched on 22 November 1869.

Cutty Sark Detail
Cutty Sark Detail


Linton's legacy and the Historic Scotland plaque

The Historic Scotland plaque scheme is designed to celebrate the life and achievements of significant historic figures with nominations being submitted by the public before a review by an independent panel of experts.

Linton’s nomination was supported by the Maggie Law Maritime Museum in Gourdon and boosted by Primary Four pupils of Bervie School who came up with "29 reasons why Linton should be recognised by Historic Scotland".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote to the school to congratulate them on their work and achievements which have contributed to national recognition of Inverbervie’s most famous son.

On 22 November 2015 - the 146th anniversary of Cutty Sark’s launch - the Historic Scotland plaque was unveiled at Linton’s grave in the old kirkyard in Inverbervie by the ship’s curator Jessica Lewis, Provost Hamish Vernal Aberdeenshire Council, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire and Marion Lapper of Dublin, a direct descendant of Hercules Linton.