As WYRE CAPTAIN FD78 (1949-60)

Courtesy of Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust and The Bosun's Watch

Official No:  143847    Port Number and Year: 615th in London, 1920 (LO331)

                                                                                 11th in Milford, 1921

                                                                                     -   in Hull, 1938 (H522)

                                                                                     -   in Fleetwood, 1945  (FD78)

Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: foresail and mizzen.

Crew:  10 men (1921)

Registered at Milford: 21 Dec 1921

Built: 1917 by Smith's Dock, South Bank-on-Tees, Middlesbrough. (Yard no. 698)

Tonnage: 275.13 grt  107.43 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet):  125.5  / 23.4 / 12.85

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 60 hp.10 kts.  Engine and boiler: 1917, by R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn-on-Tyne




19 Feb 1920: The Admiralty, London.

Manager: The Secretary, Admiralty, Whitehall, London SW1.


As  M243

21 Dec 1921: David Pettit, 'Westcliffe', Wellington Rd., Hakin (64/64)

Managing owner.

Jan 1922: As CAPSTONE.


25 Oct 1934: Boston Deep Sea Fishing & Ice Co, Dock St., Fleetwood.

Manager: Basil A. Parkes, 'Clydesdale', Whiteside Way, Cleveleys.


As H522

3 May 1938: Saint Andrew's Steam Fishing Co, Saint Andrew's Dock, Hull.

Manager: Basil A. Parkes, Parkroyd, Links Gate, Thornton-le-Fylde, Lancs.


As FD78

26 Jul 1945: Wyre Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., Fleetwood.  

Managers: Merchants (Fleetwood).

23 Dec 1948: As WYRE CAPTAIN (FD78).


1954: Wyre Trawlers, on purchase of Merchants (Fleetwood) by Associated Fisheries Group.

Manager: Leslie Wheildon.

[Information from the Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust and the Bosun's Watch website.]

Landed at Milford:  (LO331) 1 Apr 1920 - 12 Dec 1921. (22 landings in 1920; only 5 landings in 1921.)

(M243) 10 Jan 1922 - 26 Aug 1934. (Renamed as CAPSTONE by landings from 24 Jan 1922.)

Skippers: A.W. Barrett (1922); J.P. Smith (1922); Henry Thorpe (1925)


James Robertson born in Stornaway, Rosshire; age 22, Master's Mate, HMS VICTORY at Trafalgar.

Capstone: a stone making up the top layer of a wall; Capstone Beach, ~ Point, ~ Hill and ~ Parade are in and near Ilfracombe.

12 Jul 1917: Completed for the Admiralty (no. 3159); 1x12 pdr, & listening hydrophones.

19 Feb 1920: Registered by the Admiralty as a fishing vessel. 

19 Dec 1921: London register closed.

27 Mar 1923: Rescued crew of schooner MADELON. [See below.]

3 May 1925: COTSMUIR towed by CAPSTONE to Milford. [See below.]

30 Oct 1932: CAPSTONE towed by CLYRO to Milford. [See below.]

17 Nov 1933: CAPSTONE towed freighter HOLME FORCE from Smalls to Milford. [See below.]

1 Jun 1940: Requisitioned for war service and converted for auxiliary patrol (P.No. 4.173) and later for minesweeping duties (P.No. FY1555); 1x12 pdr AA.

20 Jun 1941: Shot down a German bomber.

Sep 1941: Employed in minesweeper.

11 Oct 1945: Returned to owners.

15 Sep 1960: Broken up by Thos. Ward, Barrow-in-Furness

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 2 May 1938.  Vessel transferred to the port of Hull.

 Accidents and Incidents

From The Scotsman of Wednesday 28th March 1923, p.12:




    MILFORD HAVEN, March 27.― Schooner MADELON, of and from Fecamp for Newfoundland, destroyed by fire on March 25 about 70 miles W.N.W. of Bishop's; crew landed here today by steam trawler Capstone.



Statement by Henry Thorpe, May 1925:

    I am the skipper of the 'Capstone'. We left for sea on the 1st May. We started fishing and had a couple of hours on the 2nd. That was unsuccessful and I then steamed down about 130 miles and then towed the remainder. I had one haul and then on the second time the gear was down in the water I noticed the 'Cotsmuir' blowing. I commenced to tow towards him. He asked me to take him to Milford and I then got my gear in.   

    It was about 9 o'clock when I actually got up to take him in tow. My trawl warps were used. I did not experience any difficulty in getting them on to the 'Cotsmuir'. The weather was moderate at that time and nothing much in the way of a sea. It was just an ordinary day swell. There were two other vessels in the neighbourhood when I first heard the signals from the 'Cotsmuir'. I think they were the 'Caliban' and the 'Calydavia' but I am not sure. They were from 7 to 10 miles away from the 'Cotsmuir'. I reckon we were 5 miles from him. I did not hear the whistle. I saw the steam. Neither of these other two vessels appeared to come to the assistance of the 'Cotsmuir'.

    The weather started to get bad early on Tuesday the 5th. We were then about 80 miles from St Ann's Head. We were not then in close proximity to any land or rocks. The weather continued bad throughout the Tuesday and Wednesday. The wind was strong, and there was a bad swell on the sea. We cleared the Smalls at a distance of about 8 or 9 miles but Skokholm was only about one mile away. The tide then turned and enabled us to keep clear of this land. We could have contended with the northward sweep of the tide if we had put our heads to the south'ard.

    The warps were all strained. They were frayed and strained. We had just over 350 fathoms out from each drum. They are not of any use again. The warps fouled as we were getting into communication with one another.

    We should have been in on the 14th or thereabouts. We went out again on the Friday. I have just landed again today. We could not have gone out before. We have today made 498.

    It was out of the way for navigation and you do not often see trawlers there at this time of the year. It is a 36 hour run to the place where we took up the 'Cotsmuir'.




From The Times of Monday 31st October 1932, pg. 23; Issue 4646278:





CAPSTONE. Fishguard Wireless Station, Oct.30. Following message from British trawler Capstone, times 11 a.m.:- Steam trawler Clyro is towing Capstone to Milford Haven with broken propeller, the latter vessel having struck submerged wreckage.


From The Times of Tuesday, 1st November 1932; pg. 25; Issue 46279; col D:





CAPSTONE.  Milford Haven, Oct. 31. Trawler Capstone (previously reported) arrived this morning in tow of trawler Clyro.  Former reports stripped by striking submersed wreckage.



From The Times of Saturday, 18th Nov 1933; pg. 21; Issue 46605; col D





Fishguard Wireless Station, Nov 17. Following received from steam trawler Damito at 11.7 a.m. G.M.T.: Sighted steamer Holme Force 18 miles west by north off Smalls under tow by trawler Capstone.


Transcription of High Court Writ, 1933:


In the High Court Of Justice, Admiralty Division. Writ issued 18th November 1933 between the Owners, Master and Crew of the Steam Trawler "Capstone", Plaintiffs.

The Owners of the Steamship "Holme Force" and her Cargo and Freight, Defendants.




1. The Plaintiffs are the Owners, Master and Crew of the Steam Trawler "Capstone" and rendered salvage services to the Steamship "Holme Force" in St.George's Channel and in Milford Haven on the 17th and 18th November 1933 in the circumstances hereinafter appearing.

2. The "Capstone" is a steel crew steam trawler belonging to the port of Mi1ford, of 275 tons gross,125 feet in 1ength,and 23 feet in beam, fitted with engines of 61 H.P.N. and equipped with wireless. At the time of the said services the "Capstone" was in the course of a fishing voyage manned by a crew of 11 hands all told.

The value of the "Capstone" was     5000.0.0.

And that of her catch                       133.9.0.

Making a total                               5133.9.0

3. The "Holme Force" is a steel screw steamship belonging to the port of Whitehaven, of 1216 tons gross, 216 feet in length and 34 feet in beam fitted with engines of 144 H.P.N. At the time of the said services the "Holme Force" was in the course of a voyage from [Brest] to Fleetwood, and manned by a crew of -  hands all told.

4. About 8 a.m. on the 17th November 1933, when the "Capstone" was fishing about 25 miles to the westward of the Smalls, a steamship which proved to be the "Holme Force" was seen about 1 mile to the eastward exhibiting distress signals, and was heard to be blowing her whistle for assistance. The "Capstone" at once hauled her gear and proceeded towards the distressed vessel which had lost her propeller and was driving before the wind. The weather was hazy, the wind easterly, a fresh gale with squalls, and there was a heavy sea running. Upon arrival in the vicinity of the "Holme Force" those on board the "Capstone" offered their assistance, which was accepted.

5. The "Capstone" twice tried to establish connection by floating a line down to the "Holme Force" whi1st steaming across her bow but those on board the "Holme Force" were unable to pick up the line and accordingly the trawler was manoeuvred into position on the lee quarter of the "Holme Force", where she succeeded in catching a heaving line which was thrown from the "Holme Force". The two warps of the "Capstone" were attached to the heaving line but as the warps were being hauled on board the "Holme Force" the line parted owing to the swell, and the warps were accordingly hauled back on board the "Capstone".

6. The trawler was again manoeuvred into position on the lee quarter of the "Holme Force" and succeeded in picking up a buoy with a line attached which had been floated down from the vessel. The warps of the "Capstone" were attached to the line and after the ends of the warps had been hauled on board the "Holme Force" they were shackled to the vessel's hawser. Unfortunately however those on board the "Holme Force" had failed to make the end of the hawser fast on their vessel and as the tow rope was paid out the hawser fell into the sea. Great care had to be exercised during this operation to keep the warps clear of the propeller of the "Capstone".

7. After heaving in the warps and hawser the "Capstone" again picked up the buoy with line attached. The warps were again made fast, and they were hauled on board the "Holme Force". Owing to the heavy sea the "Holme Force" was rolling heavily, and rolled down upon the "Capstone", doing damage to the starboard rigging and bulwarks. After the warps had been hauled on board the "Holme Force" they were attached to another hawser, a six inch steel hawser, and about 10 a.m., by which time the vessels had driven about six miles further west, the towage began with a scope of about 265 fathoms. A gradual strain was brought upon the tow rope and the "Holme Force" was turned slowly round on a course for Milford Haven. The wind had abated slightly but the squalls continued and there was still a nasty sea running and the "Holme Force" in her light condition proved a difficult tow, rolling and sheering heavily. Slow progress was made, the engines of the "Capstone" being subjected to a heavy strain, and about two p.m. the warps of the "Capstone" parted.

8. The head of the "Holme Force" went round to about south west, and after the warps had been hauled on board, the "Capstone" manoeuvred into position under the lee bow of the "Holme Force" and secured a heaving line. The hawser of the "Holme Force" was hauled on board the trawler and shackled to 30 fathoms of cable belonging to the "Capstone" which in turn was shackled to the hawser of the "Holme Force" which in turn was hauled on board the "Capstone".  In the morning about 3 a.m. the towage was resumed with a scope of 140 fathoms and after turning the head of the "Holme Force" round through the southward, a course was set for Milford Haven. Owing to the weather conditions prevailing progress continued to be slow and at 8 p.m. the Smalls Light bore east, north east, distant 18 miles.

9. The towage continued throughout the night, rather better progress being made as the vessels approached the land, and about 4.15 a.m. on the l8th November, St. Ann's Head was passed. After getting inside the Heads the engines of the "Capstone" were stopped, the tow rope was shortened to about 80 fathoms and the towage was resumed. As the vessels were proceeding up the Haven two tugs came up and spoke to the "Holme Force" and about the same time the "Holme Force" which unfortunately failed to follow in the wake of the "Capstone" fouled the cables of the steamship "Vedic" which was lying at anchor in the Haven. Just before fouling the cables of the "Vedic", the "Holme Force" let go an anchor and she swung round alongside the "Vedic". The "Holme Force" cast off the towrope at 5.30 a.m. and the "Capstone" stood by the "Holme Force" until about nine a.m., when the "Capstone" again made fast to the "Holme Force", and after pulling the vessel clear of the "Vedic", towed her to a safe anchorage off Milford where she came to anchor about 1.30 p.m. The "Capstone" proceeded into dock on the evening tide of Saturday the l8th November, and landed her catch on Monday of the 2lst November.

10. By reason of the said services, the "Holme Force" was rescued from a position of grave danger and placed in safety. She had lost her propeller and was driving out to sea completely helpless before the gale. During the 17th, and the night of the 17th / 18th November, the wind continued strong from the eastward and but for the services of the "Capstone" the "Holme Force", which was not fitted with wireless, would have been driven right out to sea. The "Holme Force" was quite unable to reach port without towage assistance, and in the weather conditions prevailing and likely to prevail in the Atlantic in November was in danger of becoming a total loss.

11. Whilst rendering the said services, the "Capstone" ran grave risk of collision with the "Holme Force", particularly when making fast in the morning and in the afternoon of the 17thNovember, and was in danger of fouling her propeller upon the towrope. The towage imposed a heavy strain upon the gear of the "Capstone" and in addition to her warps being stranded and parted, her winch and main bollard were damaged. The estimated cost of repairing the "Capstone" and replacing her warps is 227. The "Capstone" was victualled for 14 days having left Milford on the 11th November, and but for the services would have been fishing for another six days. The said services involved hardship and fatigue for the Master and Crew of the "Capstone".


The Plaintiffs claim -

        Such an amount of salvage as to the Court may seemed just.


J.V. Naisby.


The Steam Trawler "Capstone" was awarded 1,000 salvage.




Official No. 134950.

Steel four masted Schooner.

Built 1930 Goole, Ship Building and Repair Company (1927) Ltd. Goole. Owners West Coast Shipping Co, Ltd ( W.S Kennaugh & Co Managers.) Length 216.0 Breadth 34.2 Depth 13.6.

Tonnage 1216 gross 645 net.

0.128. B.13. F.30. FB.15.9.

T3Cy.16.27 & 44-30. (s) l80Lb.144N.H.P.2Sb.4CF.Gs8l.Hs2625.

MacColI & Pollock,Ld. Sunderland

Electric Light. Mchy Aft. Well Deck. one deck steel.

Registered Whitehaven. British.



Official No. 140588.

Steel twin Screw Sloop, Cruiser Stern, Electric Light, Wireless. Built 1918 Harland & Wolff,Ltd, Belfast.

Owners: Oceanic Steam Nav. Co, Ltd. White Star Line.

Lengtb 460.5 Breadth 58.3 Depth 37.3.

Tonnage 9180 gross 334 net.

P.59. B.130. F.53. 4.Steam Turbines S.R. Geared to 2 Sc.Shafts. Harland & Wolff,Ld.Belfast.

Registered Liverpool. British.

3 Decks.



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