Designed by Cox & King and built by Ramage & Ferguson at Leith in 1905, Venetia was ordered by Mr. F.W. Sykes of Huddersfield. Registered at 577 tons gross (204 net & 568 Thames), she measured 179 feet in length with a 26 foot beam and was engined by her builders. In 1914 she was purchased by Mr. Harold Swithinbank, R.Y.S., of Denham, Buckinghamshire, and he hired her to the Admiralty as an auxiliary patrol vessel during of the Great War. Released from government service in 1919, she was purchased by Mr. James White who only kept her for a short time after which she was resold and renamed Eros. Soon reverting to her original name, she was still afloat in 1939 and, by then, owned by Lord Inverforth who also handed her over for wartime service. Named Altair for the duration, she survived hostilities for the second time but was retained for government use thereafter.