Official No:  93132     Port Number and Year: Hull, 1888 (H38)

Description: Iron side / beam trawler; steam screw, coal burning.  Ketch rigged


Built: 1888, Cook, Welton & Gemmell.  (Yard no. 23)

Tonnage: 142 grt  62 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 100.0 / 20.3 / 11.0

Engine: C.2-cyl; 45 rhp; by Charles D. Holmes, Hull



28 Mar 1888: Christopher Pickering, 112 Coltman St., Hull.

Managing owner.


Dec 1892: William Wolfe, Docks, Milford.

Managing owner.


1897: John Pettit, North Rd., Milford.

Managing owner.


Landed at Milford:  1 Jan 1893 - 21 May 1906

Skippers: 1893 - 1900: John Pettit

1900: Leader

1901: Pettit; Coffee; Hanlon; Coaker

1902: Leader; Pettit; Bradnum

1903: Leader; Barnett; Barnes; Davies

1904: Coker; Dayes; Reader; Pettit

1905: Curtis; Rich; Woodgate; Weymouth; Barrett; Barnett

1906: Barnett; Ross; Pettit.


General Roberts was a renowned British soldier; by 1888 he was Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire, on 21 June 1887.

5 Jun 1906: Foundered 12 miles NE of Round Is., Scilly.  [See story below.]

 Accidents and Incidents

From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 1st April 1896:


    A special court was held in Galway on Friday for the purpose of trying the charges of illegal fishing preferred against the masters of two Milford steam trawlers.  These two steam trawlers, named respectively "Triton" and "General Roberts", came over from Milford Haven to Galway Bay during the week, and were arrested by a gunboat while engaged in illegal fishing in these waters. 

    On account of a question asked in Parliament by Mr John Dillon, a gunboat was dispatched to Galway Bay to cope with the illegal trawling there, many complaints having been made by the local fishermen of their boats being nearly run down by steam trawlers during the night, fishing in Galway Bay contrary to the fishing regulations.

    The very first night the gunboat was in Galway Bay the two trawlers belonging to the defendants were seized.  After a lengthened hearing, J. T. Wales, of the trawler "Triton", and John Pettit of the trawler "General Roberts", the defendants, were fined £5 each, and costs for fishing within the prohibited limits, and £25 costs for steaming about and trawling without having their lights up as prescribed by the bye-laws.



From the Irish Times of Friday , 27th March 1896:

                                                                                                                                             GALWAY, Thursday

At a special Court of Petty Sessions, held today before J.C. Gardiner, Esq., R.M., and Michael Lynch, Esq., J.P., the captains of two steam trawlers, named respectively T.F.[sic] Wales, of the Triton, and John Petit of the General Roberts, were charged with two offences at the suit of the Fishery Commissioners and at the suit of the Board of Trade, first for trawling within prescribed limits on the night of 21st March, and secondly for fishing without lights, as required by statute.  The defendants were detected by Lieutenant Adby, of H.M. gunboat Albacore, by the aid of a searchlight.  They pleaded guilty to both charges, and for the first offence were fined £5 each.  For the second they were fined £25 each, with forfeiture of their nets.  The defendants belong to Milford Haven.




From The Weekly Mail of Saturday of 27th February 1897:



On Friday morning a heroic act was witnessed in the dock at Milford Haven. It appears that a boy named Frank Pettit, son of Captain Pettit, of the trawler General Roberts, fell from the dock wall into the water, and had disappeared twice when Fred Uglow, son of Mr. Uglow, Custom House officer, apprised of the accident hastened to the spot, jumped into the dock, and succeeded in keeping the lad above water until a life-buoy and rope were thrown to him. In recognition of Uglow's heroic conduct a. subscription was raised among the people about the dock, which resulted in the sum of £3 12s. being presented to him.



From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser of Friday 8th March 1901:


Illegal Trawling off the Irish Coast 


    At Dungarvan (County Waterford) Petty Sessions on Tuesday (Mr W. Orr, R.M., presiding), David Pettit, skipper of the steam trawler General Roberts, of Milford Haven, was prosecuted for steam trawling off the coast of Waterford within the prescribed limits on the 9th of February.

    Mr Tweedy, Sessional Crown solicitor, prosecuted, and Mr. J. Hunt, solicitor, Waterford defended.

    Mr Tweedy said the prosecution in this case was brought under the bye-law prohibiting trawling within certain prescribed limits.

    Mr Hunt: I object to the bye-law, on the ground that it is invalid.

    Mr Tweedy said that the law had been settled by the House of Lords.

    Captain Brady, master of the steamer Granuaile, proved the alleged offence but in reply to Mr Hunt said he could not swear that the defendant bad his trawler down when he saw the vessel first.

    Mr Hunt said he would challenge the validity of the bye-law under several sections and several Acts of Parliament. As regarded the facts of the case, before he went into the law points, he should say that everyone, including the owners of steam trawlers, would be in favour of the law that kept steam trawlers three miles off from the shore. But that law should in fairness be applied to foreigners as well as to natives. By the International Law his Majesty's jurisdiction extended to only three miles from the shore, and no bye law should contain anything repugnant to the Act of Parliament under which it was framed. By the bye-law in question British subjects were prohibited from coming within three miles of an imaginary line drawn from Ballycotton to Hook. This bye-law would keep trawlers in some twelve miles from the shore, while a foreigner could come within three miles of any part from the coast.

    A legal argument followed and similar charges against Captains Leader and Curtis, also of Milford were taken up.

    Captain Brady gave similar evidence with regard to the steam trawling inside the limit.

    Mr. James Hayes said that be believed that the charges were proved against defendants, and he would be for imposing the highest penalty on them. It was a hardship on the poor fishermen of Dungraven to have these trawlers come inside the limit and destroy the fishing grounds. These grounds were formerly famous for fish, but now they are practically destroyed. He would be in favour of having the highest penalty inflicted.

    Mr. Thomas Power: I am also of opinion that the cases have been proved, and I am for putting on the maximum penalty of 95 on each of the defendants.

    The Bench consulted, after which the Chairman said the majority of the magistrates had decided to convict and impose a fine of £5 and £10 costs in each case. He (Mr. Orr) would dissent from that decision.

    Mr Hunt: I apply to have a case stated for the King's Bench.

    Mr Tweedy: I think it is perfectly right.

    Mr Orr: Very well. The magistrates will state a case for you.



From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser of Friday 8th March 1903:



The steam trawler 'Dowlais' was towed into Milford on Saturday by the 'General Roberts,' which had picked her up disabled in Chapel Bay. She had lost her rudder in the storm.  All other fishermen who were out at sea that night speak of it as being one of the wildest they ever experienced, and the 'General Roberts' had a boat washed away. 



From The Cardiff Times of Saturday 19th December 1903:



Award Against a Brixham Smack.

    At the Pembroke Dock County Court on Wednesday (before Judge Bishop) John Pettit, Milford Haven, owner of the steam trawler General Roberts, claimed £51 12s from James Luscombe, owner of the smack Willie, for damages sustained in a collision at Milford Dock between the craft named. Mr J. Griffiths Jones represented plaintiff, and Mr Marlay Sampson appeared for defendant.

    In opening the case counsel explained that there are two warehouses — one for sailing trawlers and the other for steam trawlers — to berth against while unloading, and across the dock an ice factory. The Willie had been at the factory on July 13th, and had passed a hawser across to warp over to the warehouse just as the steam trawlers Queen Alexandra, General Roberts, and Blue Jacket were entering the dock and proceeding to their berth at the warehouse. The dock berthing master ordered the master of the Willie to slacken his hawser to let the steamers pass, which he did until the Queen Alexandra passed, but as he immediately afterwards commenced to heave on it again the rope caught under the bows of the General Roberts and swung the Willie on to her, with the result that the bowsprit of the Willie drove into the rail of the General Roberts, causing damage of £19 10s value. The claim also included £10 a day for demurrage while repairs were made.

    George Barrett, master of the General Roberts, bore out counsel's statement, and said it would have been impossible for him to have passed under the Willie's stern. His ship was about 20 feet astern of the Queen Alexandra, and if he had reversed be would have fouled the Blue Jacket. Evan Thomas, dock berthing master, and Alfred Kersey, boatswain of the General Roberts, corroborated. For the defence it was contended that the Willie was in motion across before the General Roberts turned into the dock, and that the collision was attributable to the General Roberts, which should either have stopped her engines or passed under the stern of the Willie.  Alfred Braddick, skipper of the trawling ketch Harrier, of Brixham, Samuel Mills (skipper) and Joseph Mills (second hand), of the trawler Ericena; Harry Lang (second hand) and John Bargoyne (one of the crew), of the Willie, bore out this view, and each denied having seen the Blue Jacket, and some of them having seen the Queen Alexandra that day.

    The Judge said in this case one side said a thing was black and the other that it was blue. The berthing master's evidence was more reliable than that of sailors who had their work to attend to. and he based his judgment on it. The Willie was doing a dangerous and improper thing, and he held her to be to blame, and awarded plaintiff £41 12s, with costs.



From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser of Friday 1st April 1904:


A COLLISION.- On Tuesday the steam trawler Camrose was at anchor in the Haven, when the General Roberts, in trying to cross her bow, ran into her, denting the rail and bulwarks down to the covering board.



From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph, Wednesday 13th June 1906


THE “GENERAL ROBERTS” SUNK. – On Wednesday morning a telegram was received by the owner, Mr J Pettit, containing the information that the steam trawler “General Roberts” had sunk off the Seven Stones near the Scilly Islands.  It transpired that about 10 o’clock the ship sprang a leak and the inrush of water was so great as to extinguish the fires, and the crew were forced to take to their boat and after the vessel foundered they landed at the Scillies.  They arrived at Milford on Thursday night.  The skipper was Capt. J. Pettit, junior.  The General was one of the very oldest trawlers sailing out of the port. …………………..

The following is a list of the vessels lost since February: Shamrock, *Hindustan, Fulmar, Merlin, Palestine, *Cornwall, *General Roberts.  Those marked with an asterisk were steam trawlers, the others long-liners.  It is re-assuring to know there are quite a number of new trawlers at present on order by different firms.  The above losses constitute a disastrous record for the port.



Back to Other Registrations A-H