Big Firm's Secession from Milford.

Discussion of the Pros and Cons.

    The announcement that the Castle Steam Trawler Company (Limited) had completed arrangements for transferring their fleet of trawlers from Milford Haven to Swansea had a very disquieting effect at Milford Haven when it was first made public, writes the correspondent of a Cardiff daily. At Swansea it was, of course, regarded as likely to lead to the developing of an important fishing industry, while at Milford Haven it is, undoubtedly the greatest set-back which that port has had since the fishing trade became the staple industry of the place. The Cattle Company has been so closely associated with the trade of Milford grown with the progress of the port, and contributed so much to its prosperity, that the news was at first received with dismay. The Castle Company began in 1892, eleven years ago, with two steam trawlers, the Picton Castle and the Dale Castle, and it now owns seventeen well-equipped end admirably-found boats of its own, and has, in addition, the management of five Grimsby boats, the Florence, Julia, Kathleen, Ethel, and Elsie. These 22 steam trawlers form one-third of the Milford fleet, finding constant employment for one-third of the hands at the docks, and it was natural, therefore, that their transference to a rival port should create some alarm and serious concern. This feeling, however, is subsiding as the real facts of the case and their probable bearing become better known; and though the change is a matter of regret, and is bound to occasion a temporary dislocation of the trade, no far-reaching consequences are likely to arise, and the separation can be viewed with some degree of equanimity. It will be interesting to examine the reasons which have been given by the Castle Company for transferring their boats from Milford to Swansea. The first and most important reason assigned is that they will save 3,000 a year in the cost of coal by being nearer the coalfield. The difference in the price of coal at Milford and Swansea amounts to some 3s. a ton. A steam trawler consumes on the average a thousand tons per annum, which at 3s. a ton means 150 a year. The Castle fleet of twenty boats   excluding the two just launched will save, ostensibly at any rate, 3,000 a year in coal. But will they really?

    The daily cost of a steam trawler is estimated at 9, and her earnings while on the fishing grounds at 13. Now, Swansea is thirty miles further from the fishing grounds than Milford, and a Swansea trawler will lose three hours in going to the grounds and another three hours in returning as compared with Milford. A Swansea boot, therefore, will lose six hours out of the twenty-four, and will earn one-fourth less than a Milford trawler. Then to this must be added the six hours' extra consumption of coal daily, and the coal bill saving will have vanished. But it is urged that the railway traffic to the great markets and centres of population will be shortened by 60 miles. Will this be the case? The afternoon fish trains from Milford and Swansea, are both timed to leave at 3.25, but it is an actual fact that the Milford fish train often has to wait at Landore for the Swansea train. If we turn to the saving in dock dues which the Castle Company may effect in Swansea one is on surer ground. At Milford their rental is 17s. 6d., which, putting it roughly, means a little over 1,000 per annum. At Swansea they have rented land at 510 per year; but there is the capital sum to be expended in making dock accommodation, buildings, etc. The Castle Company anticipate another large saving by making their own ice. A ton of ice may cost anything between 11s. and 14s., and as a trawler will average 150 per annum of fish it will be seen what an important item ice becomes.

 

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