A magnificent example of the archetypal ocean-going steam yacht, Aries was built for Sir James Ramsden, one of the industrial magnates of Victorian England, in 1880. Designed as a three-masted iron screw schooner by Ramsden himself, Aries was constructed in the yards of the Barrow Ship Building Company at Barrow-in-Furness where Sir James was a pivotal figure. Registered at 186½ tons gross (107¼ net). Aries measured 145 feet in length with a 20 foot beam and her screw was driven by a compound two-cylinder engine of 50h.p. Surveyed by Lloyd's at Barrow where she was given their highest rating of 100A1, her sails were supplied by Ratsey and she was completed and ready for the sea by the spring of 1881.
Sir James declared himself well satisfied with her but, within ten years, had tired of her and she was sold first to Mr Walter Clark and then to Mr Edward Hore. Subsequently passing into the ownership of the 10th Duke of Leeds, one of the most distinguished yachtsmen of his day and later Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Aries became a familiar sight at Cowes throughout the 1890's and the golden summers of the Edwardian era. Still flying the Leed's colours when war was declared in August 1914, Aries was immediately offered to the Admiralty for wartime duties and, armed with two 3-pounders, was accepted into service as an Auxilliary Patrol Yacht on 12th September. The fifty-three year old Duke skippered her for almost a year during which she led a small patrol flotilla initially off the Tyne and later in the Dover and Downs area. Shortly after the Duke was transferred to another command however, Aries was sunk by a mine on 31st October 1915 whilst patrolling near the South Goodwin Lightship with the loss of five officers and seventeen men.