Official No: 120516 Port Number and Year: London, 1905 (LO209)
Aberdeen, 1925 (A136)
Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Crabber. Ketch rigged.
Built: 1905, by Smith's Dock Co., North Shields. (Yard no. 768)
Tonnage: 205 grt 77 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 117.8 / 21.6 / 11.5
Engine: T 3-Cyl. 52 rhp. Engine by McColl & Pollack, Sunderland
Dec 1904: Phoenix Trawling Co. (G. H. D. Birt), Docks, Milford
Renamed AVONDON A136
1925: North Star Steam Fishing Co., Regent Rd., Aberdeen
Manager: J. A. Harrow
1933: George R. Wood, Aberdeen.
Landed at Milford: 26 Apr 1905 - 11 Jan 1915; 4 Jan 1920 - 12 Mar 1921
Skippers: J. Gardner (1905); T.E. Hooper (1911)
Notes: Feb 1915: Requisitioned and converted to a minesweeper. (Admy. No. 969) 1 x 6 pdr. AA
1919: Returned to owners.
1921-25: Laid up.
22 Dec 1936: Foundered.
Accidents and Incidents
From the Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 3rd May 1905:
Last Friday, a new vessel belonging to the Phoenix Trawling Company made her first appearance, viz., the "Fishergate". She is in command of Captain J. Gardner. The Company's fleet numbers five, the last addition taking the place of the lost "Hungate".
From the Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 21st February 1906:
On Monday morning, one of the Phoenix Trawler Company vessels, the "Fishergate", landed an abnormally large catch of fish which included no less than 230 kits of hake. Prices being good, the trip realised £536, the largest amount made at the market for some years.
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 8th January 1908:
The steam trawler "Fishergate", (Mr G. H. D. Birt) in charge of Captain Albert Reeves, arrived at Milford on Tuesday having aboard four men rescued at sea from the barquentine "Fanny", of Jersey, Channel Islands.
The men when rescued were in an exhausted state and related a thrilling story. They were taken to H. M. Customs offices and reported their experiences and were medically examined. Efforts were made to find accommodation for them. The Fishermen's Mission and other places being full up, they were taken to the house of Mr. W. Oakes, confectioner, Robert Street. Seen there in the afternoon they unfolded their story as follows.
The barquentine "Fanny", hailing from Jersey, left Santos, Brazil, South America, with a cargo of granite ballast for Halifax, Nova Scotia, towards the end of September last, the crew of seven men all belonging to Jersey, and their names were Le Suer (Captain), Blainpied (Mate), Francis Missin (Bosun), John Manger (A.B.), Edward Langelier (A.B.), Joe Short (A.B.), Joe Lawrence (Cook). All went well until November 21st, when they arrived off the coast of Nova Scotia and sighted the port of Halifax, hoping in a short time to get safe on shore. Suddenly a strong gale sprang up and the sea ran high rendering it impossible to make the port. They had to put the ship round and get her off the shore. She was the same night struck by a heavy sea and Edward Langelier (A.B.) was so severely injured in the back of the head that he ultimately succumbed on December 29th.
For twenty days they were beating off the shores of Nova Scotia, one day making a few miles the next being driven as far back. Subsequently, with only three of the crew able to work the ship, they decided to make for Jersey. On the journey the Captain was struck by the wheel and badly injured, and he died four days later (December 21st ). The bosun, Missin, also perished a week previous from exposure. They had favourable breezes in the Atlantic on the homeward run and came within two hundred miles of the Lizard, but then a gale sprang up from the southward and blew them back two hundred miles. They flew signals of distress but these were not observed until Sunday when they were sighted by the steam trawler "Fishergate".
The four survivors were taken off the "Fanny" in a very sad plight, the cook especially being very ill, the other three members of the "Fanny's" crew also being exhausted. All they had left in provisions after their one hundred and five days at sea, was a biscuit and a bit of salt meat. The ship at the time was rapidly filling with water, her bulwarks and stanchions were gone, the decks open, and the three masts were starting. The vessel was labouring heavily and had to be abandoned.
The cook, who was also taken to Mr Oakes's home, is in a somewhat critical state. The others, after being well cared for, are now apparently all right, and will be sent home today (Wednesday).They were taken charge of by Mr G.S.Kelway, agent for the Ship Wrecked Mariners Society.
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 15th January 1908:
The man Joe Lawrence, cook, who with three others who were rescued by the Milford steam trawler "Fishergate", from the ill-fated barquetine "Fanny", of Jersey, and brought into Milford Haven last Tuesday week, died at 3 o'clock, making the death toll of the ship four. He died at 3 o'clock yesterday morning, a week after the rescue.
Lawrence, during the week, appeared to be making excellent progress at the house of Mr W.Oakes, Robert Street, where the men were kindly taken in last week and every hope for his recovery was entertained. On Monday however a change in the patient's condition was noticeable, and Doctor Griffith had to be sent for. The poor fellow succumbed as stated in the presence of Mr Oakes and Mr C. W. Cobb, the harbour missionary, who had from the first taken an interest in the men's welfare. The cause of death being heart failure, the most remitting care was bestowed upon the man by Mr and Mrs Oakes, but this and medical skill did not avail. He was only twenty eight years of age and was a finely built young fellow. His relatives were immediately wired for. The other men were sent home last week.
The unfortunate vessel, of which the deceased formed one of the crew, has been salvaged and brought into Dock yesterday afternoon, singularly enough, by the same trawler. The "Fanny" was berthed alongside the Hakin Stage. The craft did not appear as badly damaged as would be expected. The jib boom and head sails were carried away, also the mizzen was damaged, whilst a portion of the bulwarks on the port side was gone, otherwise the ship appeared to be none the worse for its perilous voyage. It is a sad coincidence that she should be brought in on the same day as the cook of her died.
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 3rd May 1911:
On Friday morning a remarkable species of the denizens of the deep was landed on Milford Haven Fish market from the Milford trawler "Fishergate", a steam vessel owned by Mr. G. H. D. Birt, and commanded by Skipper T. Hooper. Opinions differ strongly, and the local fishermen and fishbuyers are strongly divided as to what species it really belongs to, whether it was an octopus or what is known as a Devil Fish. It is fairly certain that no such monster was ever landed or caught in the net of a steam trawler, this includes the whole of the British Isles. The very sight of the monster, even when dead, was sufficient sensation through the body. It is very hideous, and what a formidable enemy it would prove in its native element may well be imagined. Large crowds gathered round it during the morning at the lower end of the market, and it is safe to say that no such species will ever be seen again.
The body of the main trunk measured 7 feet by 20 inches across, and at the head stretched out about 8 arms or tentacles, of lengths varying from 4 feet to 2 feet, at the end of which were suction shells. Extending out in front were two great feelers, fully 24 feet in length, with suckers at the end.
The fish was photographed during the morning, and later in the day was sent to Johnston Oil Works. Had it been landed on a day more convenient for London, it would have been purchased and sent there as a curio. It was caught in the Atlantic, on the west coast of Ireland, and was evidently out of its latitude, as it is believed to have its home in tropical waters.
[ In fact, the photographs led to its being identified as a giant squid. Its mistaken identification as an octopus, and its despatch to the local fish guano works, represented a great loss to science, as experts later put the probabilities of landing another such specimen as 1,000,000 to 1. ]
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 2nd October 1912:
On Friday evening an urgent wire was received by the Milford Docks Authorities to the effect that the barge anchored in Dale Roads, with a hydroplane or some kind of flying machine on board had broken from her moorings, and needed help. There was a strong easterly breeze blowing at the time, and the valuable cargo on the helpless barge was in great peril. Fortunately the steam trawler "Fishergate" was hailed while coming into dock, and was at once despatched to the harbour entrance and succeeded in taking the drifting barge in tow. She brought the craft into Milford docks the same night.
For some months, experiments of a secret nature have been made from Dale Roads by a company of aeroplane builders, and the barge had occasionally been taken up to Pembroke Dock Yard. It is believed the Government is interested in the trials that are being made in the small Welsh resort.
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 1st January 1913:
THE GALE FELT AT MILFORD HAVEN
The gales which have prevailed all round the coast were severely felt at Milford Haven, for the greater part of last week. ... All the trawlers arriving at the fish market from Thursday onwards numbering about 25 all report terrible weather at sea, from every direction. The Lynmouth off the Smalls had an awful experience and was almost submerged as was also the Fishergate, and the Solva too reported a similar story of the battle with the mountainous seas. Almost every vessel was damaged in someway or another, some of course worse than others. Bridge windows were smashed and gear carried away, and more than one ship had her lifeboat washed away. Several vessels have had to seek shelter at various places on the Irish coast and those at sea were unable to fish and some of them returned with very small catches for about 15 days. A few of the boats, which have been on the Portuguese and Morocco grounds, have made good voyages of hake and soles, the Albion grossing £400 on Thursday. The home waters however are not productive and fish is scarce and unless the weather abates there will be a continued shortage of supply for some time yet.
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