Alongside the Fish Market in 1935

From the Western Telegraph of Wednesday 29th July 1992

Official No:  108482    Port Number and Year: Grimsby, 1897 (GY426)

                                                                              Lowestoft, 1925 (LT139)

Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. .  Yawl rigged. 


Built: 1897 by Mackie & Thomson, Govan (Yard no.160)

Tonnage: 165 grt  64 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 120 / 21.5 / 11.7

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 45 rhp.   Engine by Muir & Houston, Glasgow.



As GY426

Oct 1897: Hagerup & Doughty, Grimsby

Apr 1906 Consolidated Steam Fishing & Ice Co., Grimsby

Manager: John D. Marsden.


As LT139

Jan 1925: Albert Lockwood, Lowestoft.


c.1929: James H. Gough    )

H. Picton                           )

J. Jenkins                           )  Pater Steam Trawling Co., Docks, Milford

W. S. Thomas                   )

Manager: J. H. Gough.


4 Aug 1939: Yolland & Llewellin Trawling Co., Docks, Milford


Landed at Milford: 13 Dec 1929 - 23 Mar 1941

Skippers: Samuel Henry Lonsdale (1933); Avery Pitman (1937)

Notes: 1917: Requisitioned into the Fishery Reserve.

1919: Returned to owners.

29 Mar 1941: Bombed and sunk by German aircraft 5 miles SW of Ballycotton.

 Accidents and Incidents

Statement from the Skipper, Mr Samuel Henry Lonsdale, 27th December  1933:


    I was on the date in question the skipper of the S.T. "Exeter". On December  16th, at 6.20 p.m., the "Gaelic" blew for assistance whilst fishing off the Smalls.  We were fishing at the time.  We hauled our gear and proceeded to him, we found his trawl was in his propeller.  He was in a very dangerous position at the time.

    We proceeded to him and I spoke to the skipper and he asked me to take him in tow and take him to Milford.  I  took him in tow and towed him to Milford.  After we had towed him in we put him on the hard. 

    The position of the "Gaelic" when she gave the signal, was approximately five miles South South West of the Smalls.  We were about one mile away from her to the West when she blew. The tide was on the ebb that is running towards the Smalls.  It was a full six hours ebb in front of her.  She would be carried by the tide at a speed of about two knots an hour.  It is a very strong tide in this neighbourhood.  There was very little wind at the time but the way the wind was, namely about South East, would have carried her onto the Smalls. I consider she would have drifted right onto the Smalls.  Visibility was good, there was no other vessel round about this spot. The first vessel we sighted was one about one hour after we had taken the "Gaelic" in tow.  It was a steam boat. l think the distance of this boat from the line the  "Gaelic" would have been driven would have prevented this other boat from seeing any distress signals from the "Gaelic". One is supposed to carry lights which give visibility for five miles. There was nothing fishing between the "Gaelic" and the Smalls.  They fish all round the Smalls. I know of no other vessel  which would have prevented the "Gaelic" going on to the Smalls.

    The sea was slight, we took about  15 minutes to haul in.  We brought her in with her gear round the propeller. I don't consider that the "Gaelic" would have found any anchorage between the spot where we picked her up and the Smalls.  The bed of the sea is very hard and rough in this area, her little sail would be absolutely useless. If she had been carried onto the Smalls she would have became a total loss.  I don't think the "Gaelic" could have done anything to save herself.  Several vessels have gone onto the Smalls in recent years from about the same spot and direction in which the "Gaelic" was lying.

    The skipper of the "Gaelic" asked me for my warp.  I threw a line and he pulled my warp on board of him and made fast.  We had about  150 fathoms out. In steaming up to the "Gaelic" sufficiently close to enable me to throw him a rope  I  was obliged to pass over the position in which his gear was lying.  At the time  I  knew the gear was down but  I  decided to risk my own warp becoming entangled in the gear.  I was as usual obliged to steam up on the weather side of the "Gaelic" for the purpose of throwing him my rope and in doing this  I  steamed over his gear which was hung from his port side. We approached him within about twenty to thirty feet and we steamed parallel with him.  He caught our rope first time and there was no difficulty in connecting up. We had to ease up sometimes in case our rope parted, it was a big strain on the  warp. There  was wrenching. The fact of the gear being round her propeller  would make the tow a heavy one.  There has not been any examination of the winch.  I  expect the warp is chafed and it naturally was strained.  It is always risky to use again for fishing purposes a warp that has been strained.

    We got up off the Docks at  12.20 a.m. The wind increased a little during the tow but not much.  The wind was light, South to South South East. The tow was a dangerous one by reason of the position of the vessels in reference to the Smalls, the Hats and Barrels, also Grassholm.  The tide was setting to the Northward throughout the period of the tow.

    We left Milford on the 15th December, in the afternoon.  Our normal period of a fishing trip is seven or eight days.  We were provisioned etc for ten days.  We didn't land anything on the Monday morning.  We went to sea again on the Monday morning tide at five o'clock.  We had to come into dock.  We contend that

it was necessary for us to come into dock for an inspection of our warps.  We think this was desirable. 

    It takes about three hours to steam to where the "Gaelic" was picked up. I think the "Gaelic" was disabled about half an hour before she signalled. They must have realised that it was hopeless.

    The "Gaelic" went out on the  15th December.  She had fifteen kit of fish on board, say about two pound a kit.

    We are a crew of nine including myself. Neither of the two trawlers carried wireless. I don't think the St.David's Lifeboat could have got there in time to save the "Gaelic", even if the "Gaelic" had been able to communicate her position to the Smalls Light House.  She was just inside the tract of the shipping lane.

    He kept on blowing, one long blast.  He also hoisted two black balls by day, and two red lights at night time (This means that the vessel is not under command).  We took about half an hour to steam up to her and about another half an hour in getting her connected up. In the meantime both vessels had been carried in the direction of the Smalls. We towed at about three and a half miles an hour.  We were well in towards Skokholm before we saw any Milford trawlers going out to sea.  There was no other boat fishing in this area.


Sgd.  Samuel Henry Lonsdale.



[ The Steam Trawler "Exeter" received 150 for services rendered to the Steam Trawler "Gaelic". ]





From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 22nd January 1937:


    Whilst out on the fishing grounds on Sunday, the Milford trawler "Exeter" was swept by a heavy sea, which hurled the mate, Mr G. Brooks, of Neyland, to the deck.  His right leg was severely injured and the trawler immediately steamed at full speed back to port.  On Monday morning the injured man was brought ashore and conveyed to his home by car.




From an unknown local newspaper dated Thursday 11th November 1937:


    On Wednesday the steam trawler "Exeter" entered port with her red ensign flying at half mast, bearing the mortal remains of the skipper of the vessel, Mr Avery Pitman, 43, Starbuck Road, who had died at sea on the previous day.

    The mate, Mr W. Johnston, of Hill Street, Hakin, immediately turned the vessel round and headed back to port. The deceased, a native of Brixham, was fifty three years old and had been fishing out of Milford for the last twenty years.  A week before he died, skipper Pitmann was in the [vessel?]  when he netted a six foot Bay tree firmly planted in a tub of earth while fishing off the Smalls.  It was a coincidence that he was found dead at approximately the same place as the Bay tree was netted.   

    Local legend has it that when the tree was netted in the trawl, the mate wanted to throw it back into the sea.  The skipper insisted that the tree should be kept on the casing of the ship ready to take ashore for his garden.  The mate then told the skipper that it was very unlucky as the wooden tub was the wood to build the coffin, the earth to cover the coffin, and the tree to give the grave shade.

    As you now know a week later they found the skipper dead in the wheelhouse, whilst fishing over the same area as the tree was found. The Skipper's body was placed in the trawler's small boat aft, and brought back to Milford.




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