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

(See as BLACKTHORN below.)

Official No:  182741    Port and Year:  Portsmouth, 1947 (P57)

Description: Admiralty Tree Class steel side trawler; motor.


Built: by Cook, Welton & Gemmell, Beverley, in 1940 (Yard no. 653)

Tonnage:   452 grt  144 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 158.3 (164.1 oa) / 27.3 / 14                                                         

Engine:  1940: 1 shaft reciprocating (VTE); 850 ihp = 11.5 kts.

1947: Re-engined - 16 cyl.; 850 hp = 12 kts. Werkspoor N.V., Amsterdam




1940: Admiralty.



1947: Vospers, Portsmouth.

Manager: R. H. Bagshaw. (1947-49)

                J. C. Ward (Milford Steam Trawlers, Docks, Milford.) (1949-55)



1955: A/S Bergens Fiskenselskap, Per Chr. Rahrs, Bergen.



1963: Olav Østervold P/R Lepsøy, reg. Bergen.


[ Thanks to Per Gisle Galåen and Ole Hajem Fiske, Norwegian Maritime Museum. ]


Landed at Milford: 23 Nov 1949 - 30 Jan 1953

Skippers: A. (Gilly) Beckett (1950); Harry Rich (1952)


29 Nov 1939: Launched for the Admiralty and completed as a minesweeper (P.No. T.100). 1x12 pdr; 2x0.5" AA; 4xLG (2 x twin).

1947: Sold to mercantile.

1953-55: Fishing out of Fleetwood and Hull, for Vospers Ltd. [See the extracts from Vospers' AGMs  in The Times below.]

1971: Broken up in Norway.

According to Milford skippers she was allegedly underpowered, not a good fishing ship, and would not tow well against wind and sea. [Information kindly supplied by Terry Beckett.]

Accidents and Incidents


As BLACKTHORN (Lenton: "British and Empire Warships" 1998.)

Could be used for either A/S or M/S work, and fitted with a minesweeping winch and wire sweep davits at the stern.

Completed with a 12pdr AA gun forward, a twin ·5in Vickers gun mounting aft, and ·303in Lewis machine guns in each wind of the upper bridge. (IWM)

From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 13th January 1950:


    Asked on Thursday about the prospects of Far South fishing, Mr. J. C. Ward told The Guardian, "The potentialities are great, and I am very pleased with the results.  He explained that on the first experimental voyage hake was found south of Cape Blanco, about 600 miles below the canaries.  On the present trip, trawls were shot in the same area, but there was practically no fish, and the Company's four trawlers moved nearly 250 miles further south towards Cape Verde, where hauling was more success.

    "From wireless reports I understand they are getting heavier catches than last time," added Mr. Ward.  "The Maythorn got a wire round her propeller on Sunday, but cleared it, and is carrying on fishing.  We expect the first of the boats to arrive back in Milford for the weekend of January 22nd."

    The round voyage involves a run of 5,000 miles, equivalent to a return trans-Atlantic trip, and three extra hands are carried on each trawler, because fishing can and does continue around the clock, and stowing has to be carried out smartly in the tropical heat.  Their escape from the winter gales on home grounds into the more tranquil conditions around Latitude 20 North, and the catches, should ameliorate Milford's pressing problem hake shortage.

    Mr. Ward is to be commended on his foresight and courage, and his skippers and crews deserve praise for their eager and fruitful co-operation.  The Steam Trawling Company's trawlers concerned are the Milford Duke, Duchess and Marquis (Skippers Saunders, Jobson and Rich), and the Maythorn (Skipper Beckett), while the David Ogilvie (Skipper Tom Donovan) of Messrs. Jenkerson's fleet, and the Barry Castle (Consol, Swansea) are also fishing in the area.  The Arthur Cavanagh (Milford Fisheries), in charge of Skipper Arthur Harvey, was stated on Thursday to be still steaming southwards towards the new grounds.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 27th January 1950:


    On Friday, Saturday and Monday, five trawlers from the West African grounds landed £24,221 worth of hake at Milford.  One of the boats, the Milford Duke (Skipper Albert Saunders) established a new all-time record for a local trawler, grossing £6,110 for a 23-day trip.

    Here are the trawlers and their catches, which totalled 3,381 kits or 253 tons of hake:

Friday -     Milford Marquis (Skipper Harry Rich) 645 kits, £4,791;

Saturday - Milford Duchess (Skipper Jimmy Jobson) 758 kits, £5,533;

Monday -   Milford Duke (Skipper Albert Saunders) 847 kits, £6,110; 

                Maythorne (Skipper Gilly Beckett) 520 kits, £3,747;

                David Ogilvie (Skipper Tommy Donovan) 611 kits, £4,040.

    The first four trawlers belong to the Milford Steam Trawling Company, and the Ogilvie to Jenkerson.  She is oil-fired, and the others diesel ships.

    Mr. J. C. Ward, who inspired the "Far South" experiment, said their boats had completed a round voyage of 4,212 miles, and the first boat to return, the Marquis, had only fished for four days, eighteen days being spent in steaming.  "We are going back to the same grounds," he added.

    "It was like a summer cruise," said sunburned Skipper Rich.  The boats fished in Latitude 20 degrees North.

    Following complaints from buyers in other parts of the country about the quality of the fish landed, the future of the "Far South" fishing may depend on the landings from the trips now in progress.

    Mr. J. C. Ward said on Thursday, "There have been complaints about the quality of some of the fish landed from the West African Coast fishing grounds, and the Maythorn, which has not got a refrigerator on board, has been diverted to northern waters, as have two of our older steamers which have not been on the southern trips before, but which we intended to send on this trip.  The Milford Duchess and Marquis, which have refrigerators aboard, are now on their way to southern waters, and we propose that the Milford Duke shall leave for the same grounds this weekend.  The reason the Duke is going later is so that we can spread out the landings.  We intend to have another go, and see what happens."



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 18th January 1952:




    After two years as "runners-up", Skipper Albert Saunders and the "Milford Duke" are once again in top place in the Milford fishing "league".  In 1951 Skipper Saunders caught a greater value of fish than any other individual trawler captain in the port.

    Second in the league on last year's results is Skipper W. Burgoyne, who has moved up a place, closely followed by Skipper Steve Pembroke, who was sixth in the list of 1949 catches.  "Crack" Skipper for 1948 and 1949, Skipper Tom Donovan, D.S.C., is a close fifth in results while consistent Skipper James Jobson again occupies fourth position.

    Here are the leading positions, the ships being classed according to size.



1.  Milford Duke (A. Saunders), Milford Steam Trawling Co.

2.  Maretta (W. Burgoyne), United Trawlers.

3.  Westcar (Steve Pembroke), Westward Trawlers.

4.  Milford Duchess (J. Jobson); 5, David Ogilvie (T. Donovan, DSC); 6, Maythorn (H. Rich); 7, Cotswold (J. Clarke); 8, George Hastings (H. Ryan); 9, Lady Olwen (George Coe).



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 4th April 1952:


    Two of the port's youngest skippers, Messrs. Harry Rich and James Jobson, both the sons of skippers, have been making fishing news at Milford.  Local records were smashed on Saturday when 38 year old Harry Rich brought in the diesel motored Maythorn from the north with 448 kits of fish, mostly hake, to gross £5,700 for the Milford Steam Trawling Co.

    On Tuesday, another of the Company's ships, the Milford Duchess, whose master, Skipper Jimmy Jobson, has just turned 40, landed 420 kits, including about 200 hake to gross £3,704.



The Times, Friday, Jan 16, 1953; pg. 11; Issue 52521; col C


    The trawler Maythorn, which has been operating on our account, has made a slight profit, but we cannot say that the position here is altogether satisfactory. We can, however, state quite positively that she has now been proved to be a highly efficient fishing trawler, and we think, therefore, that we should be able to effect a satisfactory sale.


The Times, Friday, Mar 05, 1954; pg. 14; Issue 52872; col F


    It is regretted that we cannot yet report the sale of the trawlers which have been mentioned in previous statements nor can we report that the "Maythorn" has operated at a profit during the past financial year. This has been largely due to factors not entirely within the control of her managers. It was decided during the year to operate from Fleetwood as the Icelandic and White Seas were considered to be more suitable fishing grounds for this particular type of trawler. The inevitable delay involved in the change, together with an overhaul, have had their effect upon the trading results, although she has fished well since recommencing in spite of the very bad winter weather. Unfortunately the market for fish has been very depressed.


The Times, Friday, Mar 18, 1955; pg. 12; Issue 53193; col G



    The trading of the trawler "Maythorn" has shown a great improvement during the last year. She is now fishing from Hull under new management and proving to be one of the most successful trawlers working on the distant fishing grounds. The second of the trawlers .... is also fishing successfully from Hull in distant waters. Nevertheless, efforts are continuing to dispose of these vessels.


[The name of the second trawler was not given in the article. The value of the two trawlers was reported as written down by £40,000.]




Back Row L-R: Harry John, Harold Spriggs And 'Wimpey' Spriggs

Front Row: Tommy Gevellian And Jimmy Manson

(Tommy wasn't born a hunchback, his elder sister dropped him when he was a baby)

John Stevenson Collection


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