JAMES LAY LO333
John Stevenson Collection
Official No: 143834 Port and Year: London, 1919 (LO333)
Fleetwood, 1946 (FD189)
Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; coal fired. Ketch rigged
Crew: 11 men (1920)
Built: by Fletcher Sons & Fearnall, Limehouse, in 1918. (Yard no. 5)
Tonnage: 278 grt 121 net
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.0 / 23.5 / 12.7
Engine: T 3-Cyl; 61 rhp; by Fraser & Chalmers, Erith..
As JAMES LAY LO333
19 Feb 1920: The Admiralty, London.
Manager: The Secretary, Admiralty, Whitehall, London S.W.1.
1920: Sir William Beardmore, Parkhead Steel Forge, Glasgow.
(27 Jan 1921: Raised to the peerage as Lord Invernairn of Strathnairn.
Apr 1936: Exors. of the late Lord Invernairn.)
Manager: Charles Curzon, The Docks, Milford.
1938: Mills Steam Ship Co. Ltd., 138 Leadenhall St., London EC3.
Manager: Frederick B. O'Meara. [Same address.]
15 Jan 1942: J. Marr & Son, Fleetwood.
Manager: Geoffrey Edwards Marr.
11 Mar 1946: Dinas Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., Fleetwood.
May 1954: Haven Trawlers, The Docks, Milford.
Manager: Robert Lewis.
Landed at Milford:
(As HMT JOHN LAY: 9 Aug 1919.)
(As LO333) 7 Jan 1920 (1921: 15 landings) - 14 Dec 1930.
(As FD189) 15 May 1954 - 13 Dec 1959.
Skippers: Alfred James Kersey (1925); Steve Pembroke (1954)
Notes:James Lay, age 24, born Peckham; Landsman, HMS VICTORY, at Trafalgar.
24 Sep 1925: In collision with THOMAS HANKINS while fishing 50 miles off St. Ann's Head. [See below.]
12-14 Jan 1932: Ran ashore on the rocks of south side of Filey Brigg in thick fog and heavy weather. A southerly gale preventing the Filey lifeboat, but the crew of 11 climbed over her bows and scrambled over the rocks to safety. Refloated at 7am on Thursday, anchored in Filey Bay, then proceeded to Hull.
(The Times, Wednesday 13th,Thursday 14th and 15th January 1932.)
Sep 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a minesweeper duties (P.No. FY.667).
18/19 May 1940: With MILFORD QUEEN and MILFORD PRINCESS, cut the submarine telecommunication cables in the North Sea between Britain and Germany. JAMES LAY was the first to find and cut them. (OPERATION QUENTIN / QUIDNUNC / QUIXOTE.)
1944: Converted for dan laying and assigned to Operation Neptune (Normandy landings).
23 May 1944: Attached to the 15th Minesweeping Flotilla as a dan layer.
3 Jul 1944: Operation Neptune ended.
Oct 1944: Returned to owners.
1960: Broken up at Ward's Yard, Briton Ferry.
[Information supplied by the Fleetwood Maritime Trust and the Bosun's Watch website.]
Accidents and Incidents
Statement made by Skipper Kersey in I925:
Alfred James Kersey. I am the Skipper of the "JAMES LAY " [for] I3 months, fishing out of Milford for 25 years, holding a Skipper's Ticket for 26 years or more.
On the 24th. Sept., at about 3.20 pm., whilst towing our trawl we sighted the "THOMAS HANKINS" on our port bow. We ported our helm and blew the whistle but got no response from him. By keeping his speed he struck us on our port side, damaging the port side and after gallows.
The weather was fine and clear and the sea was smooth. I was towing due South and he was towing about North North West. This is before anything occurred. We had been knocking about the same neigbourhood all day. We had been shooting a good three hours. During that three hours we went round the Dan Buoy we had completed one circle towing our starboard gear. The "THOMAS HANKINS" had her port gear down. We were both circling round the same Dan. That is customary. Some times there are 50 of us going round the same Dan. We were going down on the Eastmost side of the Dan. The "THOMAS HANKINS" was circling the Dan in the reverse direction.
When we met we were both to the Northward and Eastward of the Dan. We must have passed the " THOMAS HANKINS" in the course of our circling. The Bosun was on the bridge with the third hand I was down below and was called up when the "THOMAS HANKINS" was about 50 yards away from us. She had been about North West to North North West. Our head was then South South West with the wheel over to port. When I got on deck the first thing I did was to sound the whistle, one short blast. I also hard a-ported my helm and carried on at full speed. There was no reply from the "THOMAS HANKINS", and no one in sight on deck. After I had whistled one hand came out on deck from inside the galley on the starboard side.
Our mate saw the mate of the "THOMAS HANKINS " come along the port side from somewhere. The "THOMAS HANKINS " EXECUTED NO MOVEMENT AT ALL WITH A VIEW TO AVOIDING THE COLLISION. She struck us three times altogether. He rebounded after the first impact and again after the second. After the third impact before he could go forward again to hit us again we had gone ahead to clear him. I say that if his engines were not moving ahead the weight of his gear would have pulled him clear astern of us. He was towing three miles an hour when he struck us and that represents full speed when towing.
If when we had blown our whistle, the "THOMAS HANKINS" had ported his helm or stopped his engines, the collision would have been averted. Our engines were at full speed at the time of collision. If we had stopped our engines he would have struck us on the port bow. If his engines had been stopped the weight of the trawl would have pulled him back and at the same time have drawn his head round to starboard. It looked to me from the position of the warps of the "THOMAS HANKINS" at the time of the collision as if the "THOMAS HANKINS" WAS TRYING TO SHORTEN THE CIRCLE AND COME ROUND US, in other words crossing our bows. If he had ported, our vessel would not have fouled his gear. Although he had his port gear down, the buoy was two miles away at the time of the collision.
After the collision the "THOMAS HANKINS" hove up his gear whilst we continued towing for another half hour. We then hove up our gear, I then went to talk to the "THOMAS HANKINS". The Skipper knew nothing about the accident, he was not called beforehand. I had no conversation with the mate. I told the Skipper that there was no one on his bridge. The mate, when spoken to by the Skipper of the "THOMAS HANKINS" appeared to contradict my statement so far as I could see from his actions.
Sidney Poole Bos'n Waterloo Rd. On Watch. S.T. JAMES LAY.
Fred Williams Third Hand Havenshead On the wheel .
GROUND OF BLAME ATTACHED TO THE "THOMAS HANKINS", NAMELY:
(I) THAT OWING TO THE BOARD OF TRADE REGULATIONS RULE OF PORT HELM, THE "THOMAS HANKINS" IS AT FAULT FOR NOT PORTING. IF HE HAD PORTED EVERY THING WOULD HAVE BEEN ALL CLEAR.
(2) HE MIGHT ALSO HAVE AVOIDED IT BY STOPPING HIS ENGINES.
I SAY THAT I COULD NOT HAVE AVOIDED THE COLLISION. WE DID OUR BEST BY HARD A-PORT AND FULL SPEED AND BLOWING THE WHISTLE. THE "THOMAS HANKINS" MIGHT HAVE GIVEN ONE LONG BLAST IF SHE DID NOT PROPOSE TO ALTER COURSE, THIS BLAST BEING FOR THE PURPOSE OF SHOWING THAT SHE HAD HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD MY SIGNALS.
ALFRED JAMES KERSEY. SKIPPER, S.T. "JAMES LAY".
From an unknown local newspaper, dated c. 3rd April 1930:
Milford trawler experience at Fleetwood.
The crew of twelve hands of the Milford trawler steam trawler "James Lay" of Messrs. Brand & Curzon had a narrow escape from death and the vessel itself from sinking at Fleetwood last week.
The trawler had landed a catch at Fleetwood from the Rockall fishing grounds, and was lying in the River Wyre after coaling, and getting ready to go out on another fishing voyage.
Soon after the men went to their bunks the vessel sprang a leak, water flooded into the engine-room and extinguished the boiler fire, afterwards invading the fo'castle, where many of the crew were asleep. The trawler was in imminent danger of sinking when a watchman discovered the men's plight. They leapt from their bunks and manned the pumps and set them going, but were unable to cope with the inrush of water.
Two tug boats dashed to their aid and whilst one tug kept down the water by using the tug's suction pump, the other tug towed the trawler to a sandbank, where she was beached. It was fortunate that the watchman should happen to go aboard at that particular moment, one of the crew remarked. In another hour the vessel would have foundered.
It is not known what the cause of the leak could have been, but the approaches to the Dock at Fleetwood at certain times are perilous, and do not compare with the free passage and safety of Milford Harbour.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 21st May 1954:
TRAWLER SAILING.— recently bought from Fleetwood by Haven Trawlers the James Lay (a former vessel of the pre-war Brand and Curzon fleet locally) sailed on Thursday in charge of Skipper Steve Pembroke. Other members of the crew include Mate, Mr. W. G. Davies, Starbuck Road; bosun, Mr. Harry Johns, Cromwell Road; and Chief Engineer, Mr. Charles Middlemiss, Hakin.
L to R, back row: Fireman Alec Rozblat, Fireman Learner J. O'Driscoll, Deckhand S. Majewski, Bosun 'Micky' Finn, 3rd Hand P. Wysocki, 2nd Eng. Haydn Jones
Front row: Fireman Alec Stewart, Ch.Eng. W. Rhead, Deckhand George Cook, BEM, Skipper Steve Pembroke, Mate Alf Whisby, Deckhand Norman Palmer
Seated in front: Cook Ted Pakula
Taken for the West Wales Guardian of unknown date, c. 1954
John Stevenson Collection
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