Official No:    108437  Port Number and Year: 4th in Milford, 1899

Description:  Steel side / beam trawler; steam screw; coal burner. Ketch rigged:  mainsail and mizzen. 

Crew: 9 men (1899).

Registered at Milford: 28 Mar 1899

Built: J. Duthie & Sons, Aberdeen, 1899.  (Yard no. 201)

Tonnage: 180.25 gross 33.73 net > 71.19 net (1 Jan 1914.)

Length / breadth / depth (feet):  110.3 / 20.8 / 12.5

Engine: T-3Cyl. 61 rhp.; made by Whyte & Mair, Dundee



28 Mar 1899:  Cornelius Cecil Morley, Portlaw, Co. Waterford.

William Geoff Davies Goff, Glenville, Co. Waterford.

Manager: Frederick J. Sellick, Docks, Milford


9 Mar 1903: Southern Steam Trawling Co., 127 Quay, Waterford.

(Messrs. Sellick, Morley & Price, Docks, Milford.)

Manager: Cornelius Cecil Morley, Milford.  


27 Oct 1919: Rainbow Steam Trawling Co., Docks, Milford.

Manager: Alfred W. Rainbow, Shakespeare Ave., Milford.


Landed at Milford: 25 Jul 1899 - 8 Jan 1915; 11 Jan 1920 - 20 Feb 1923


James Clark cert 3689, age 34, born Hull; signed on 20 Jul 1899; 15 Jan, 5 Jul 1900; 1 Jan, 1 Jul 1901; 1 Jan, 4 Jul 1902; 1 Jan 1903.

C. Bradnum 5693, 34, Upton; 28 Jul 1902.

J. Kilby 1427, 40, Hull; 15 Apr, 2 Jul 1903

John William Peters 3915, 33, Hull; 14 Nov 1903; 6 Jan 1904

John H. King 4440, 40, Louth; 8 Jul 1904; 9 Jan, 6 Jul 1905; 2 Jan, 4 Jul 1906;

Alfred Lednor 7961, 27, Kent; 7 Jan 1908; 1923 [See newspaper report below on the loss of the PETUNIA.]

F. Hardisty 1891, 39, Barton; 18 May, 6 Jul 1908

Thomas Roach 7077, 29, Milford; 13 Jan 1909; 5 Apr, 3 Jul 1911; 30 May, 5 Jul 1912; 21 Jan, 1 Jul 1913; 6 Nov 1913

C. H. Brown, 6307, 42, Milford; 19 Mar, 12 Jul 1909

J. Craig 3273, 38, Hull; 17 Nov 1909

James W. Chaney 6638, 35, Winterton; 11 Jan, 17 Feb, 5 Jul 1910; 3 Jan 1911

Edward J. Bracher 9269, 25, Yarmouth; 15 Aug, 10 Nov 1911; 1 Jan 1912

John S. Lewis - , 28, Milford; 6 Feb, 18 Oct 1913

G. A. Cooper 7765

Albert Walter King 7776

Notes:  Jan 1915: Requisitioned by Admiralty (No. 941) and converted to a minesweeper.

1919: Returned to owners.

23 Feb 1923: Left Milford and presumably foundered in severe gales; no traces of her or her crew were found. [See story below.]

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 27 Mar 1923.

 Accidents and Incidents:

Log book entries:



40 miles WSW of St Ann's Head

Thomas Walker, 5th Hand, age 30; born London, residing Great Yarmouth.

Strained his back.

    James Clark (Skipper)



Milford Docks.

Struck on the port quarter by the steam trawler 'Lobellia' of Milford.

    James Clark (Skipper)



180 miles W by S from St Ann's Head.

T.  Darsey, age 18, 5th Hand; born Dublin, residing Milford.

Accident to left foot.

    James Clark (Skipper)



Midnight, 2 miles NW of Bull Rock Light, Ireland.

Intermediate shaft broken.

    J. H. King (Skipper)



Pump link and lever broke - cause unknown

    Fred Hardisty (Skipper)



Stranded about 150 yards from entrance to South Dock, Swansea, on a mud bank.

Whilst leaving the South Dock wheel chain suddenly jammed, and before the engines could be reversed vessel went on slope of mud bank.

    C. H. Brown (Skipper)



At sea, Dingle Bay, Ireland.

Thomas Bonny, age 49, deckhand; Irish, residing Milford.

Whilst lifting basket of fish, strained his back and put ashore in Valentia.

    C. H. Brown (Skipper)

    W. W. Maunder (Second Hand)



At sea.

William Berryman, age 25, Third Hand; born Swansea, residing Milford.

Tip of little finger on right hand cut off.  Cause - slamming of side house door on port side of deck.

    C. H. Brown (Skipper)

    W. W. Maunder (Second Hand)



At 11.15 p.m., fine breeze from SSW, we hauled our gear and steamed up to a vessel showing two red lights which proved to be the "Zodiac" with shaft broken.  We stood by him from 12 to 5, and then took him in tow for Milford Haven.  Arrived at 3.30 p.m. on April 27th

    Thomas Roach (Skipper)

    Francis Folland (Second Hand)

[ See below ]



Port side bulwarks bent, caused by being run into by the steam trawler 'Syringa' of Milford Haven.

    Thomas Roach (Skipper)




Off Trevose.

Feed pipe of main boiler leaking at joint.

    William H. Clarke (Skipper)



Off Mine Head.

Feed pipe burst.

    William H. Clarke (Skipper)



Waterford Harbour

Damaged landing stage

    William H. Clarke (Skipper)


From the Aberdeen Weekly Journal  of Wednesday 18th January 1899; Issue 7880:


    Last week the steam trawler Petunia, built at Aberdeen for Milford owners, arrived at Dundee to be fitted out.



From the Cambrian of Friday 21st May 1909:

    Included in the eight trawlers landing their catches at Swansea Fish Market on Monday was the Milford trawler Petunia.


From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 7th February 1912:


    Milford Salvage Claim



    A case of considerable interest to seafarers was heard at a special sitting of the County Court at the Shire Hall, Haverfordwest, on Saturday before His Honour Judge Lloyd Morgan, together with Captain Sharpe, Fishguard Harbourmaster, and Captain Henderson, R.N., Tenby, acting as assessors.

    The action was brought by the owners (Messrs Sellick, Morley & Price), the master and crew of the steam trawler "Petunia", of Milford, who sued the owners of the Grimsby steam trawler "Zodiac", for £300 as compensation for salvage services rendered to the latter vessel in April, 1911.


    Thomas Roch, master of the "Petunia", said the vessel was 108 tons gross, and she carried a crew of nine.  On April 26th he was trawling about 20 miles off the Irish coast, and shortly after 11 o'clock he saw distress signals.  There was a fresh wind coming on.  He hauled the trawling gear up, and steamed alongside the Zodiac, which was about two miles distant.  It was very dark.  When they came alongside the skipper asked him to lay alongside until daylight, and tow him to Milford.  The skipper told witness that in the breeze the tale-end shaft [ sic ] had broke.  This shaft was part of the engine.  The vessel was drifting about.  Witness laid his vessel alongside for the night.  He did not fix any ropes to the other vessel, as there was a swell on, and it would be dangerous.  He did not try to do so, as the warps might have got in the propeller.  The sea and wind were increasing during the night.  About 4.30 a.m. he was able, with difficulty to pass his warps aboard.  Witness went around the Zodiac twice for the purpose of getting the warps aboard.  Besides witness's vessel and the Zodiac, no other vessel came within hailing distance during the night.  He began to tow the Zodiac at 5.30 a.m. to Milford Haven, and was then about 100 miles from the latter port.  They reached Milford at 7.30 p.m. the same night.  They docked the Zodiac on the 28th, and returned to the fishing grounds on Saturday the 29th, arriving there about 5.30 a.m.  It took him an hour on the 27th to fasten the warps.  It was blowing very hard when they were towing the Zodiac back, and when they got back to Milford the wind was blowing from 40 to 50 miles an hour.  The sea was very heavy when they were returning, and the towing was carried on with danger to the lives of both crews.  There were nine hands on board of each vessel.  He carried out the work to the best of his skill.  They lost the fishing during that time, and also consumed more coal.  Witness did not examine the Zodiac.



From  the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 14th February 1912:


The steam trawler Petunia returned to Milford with all speed with Mr Jack Hyatt, acting chief engineer for the trip, in a very serious condition, with symptoms pointing to appendicitis. The Dock ambulance was requisitioned to take him home to the Pier Hotel.  He is doing as well as could be expected.



From  the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 12th July 1916:



    Amongst the fishing vessels sunk in the North Sea was the old "Newark Castle." This vessel was for some years owned by Messrs. Kinnard Co. and worked out of this port as a liner. She was sold to Shields owners and has been fishing in the North Sea for some years now. The steam trawler "Petunia" was also sunk in the North Sea. She was formerly owned by Sellick, Morley and Price, Milford Haven.


[This was an error, and the next issue failed to correct this rumour.]


From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 18th June 1919:


    Some excitement was manifested on the Milford Docks during last week when it became known that Messrs. Sellick, Morley and Price were disposing of their fleet of steam trawlers.  For a considerable time negotiations had been proceeding with the Consolidation Company of Grimsby, but these recently fell through.  It is gratifying to know that the greater portion of the fleet has been retained for the port, as will be seen from the following list.  Several local gentlemen having come forward, the competition was very keen.

    The Alnmouth, Weigelia, and Exmouth have been sold to Fleetwood firms, while the Charmouth, Macaw, Tacsonia, Rosa, Xylopia, Essex, Uhdea, Petunia, Lynmouth, Kalmia, Portsmouth, Weymouth, Syringa, Yarmouth and Magnolia have all found local buyers.

    This opens out the question of the need for local trades people and others to invest in the staple industry of this fishing port, as has been done in competing fishing centres.



From the Western Telegraph of Wednesday 14th March 1923:





It is many years since the port of Milford Haven has suffered an experience like unto the one in which many families are passing through just now.  Practically all hope of the missing “Petunia” has been abandoned.

Added to the tragedy is the statement that the steam trawler “Carrysfort” [sic] (Messrs. David Pettit, Ltd.), is somewhat overdue.  This vessel left port on February 22nd, presumably for the westward fishing grounds, which on Tuesday read 19 days at sea, which is unusual for that voyage.  Hopes, however, are entertained that she will turn up.  There was a rumour on the Docks on Monday that she had arrived in harbour, but it transpired that the ship was the “Caliph”, belonging to the same firm.  It is a fact, however, that the vessel was more than usually well provisioned and also sufficiently bunkered to last a long voyage.  It is the first trip in her for the Skipper Albert Faulkner, whilst the mate also was making his first trip to sea after 7 months’ illness. 


Sad scenes have been witnessed at tide twice for several days, when the women have been anxiously watching for the ships that have not returned, even on the Dock at midnight tides.  It is a pitiful sight.

The “Petunia” is one of the smaller class of trawlers, and the usual time taken for a trip would be from 7 to 12 days.  She was supposed to be working Cardigan Bay, and this is confirmed by the fact that notice has been received by the owners that a lifebuoy M23, the vessel’s registered port number, has been picked up at Wallog, Borth, in Cardigan Bay.

This in itself may mean nothing unusual, for in the gale, all kinds of moveable gear, including boats, were simply torn from the trawlers; but the fact that the Petunia has been so long out on a fishing ground so near home makes the case look serious.

There is an additional point which aggravates the fears of the owners and relatives.  The Skipper, Mr. Alf Ledner, when working this ground, generally put into Fishguard some time during the voyage and telegraphed home.  No news of any kind has been received this time.

The Petunia left Milford Haven for sea on the 23rd of February, so that she was out in the teeth of the storm.  Not a tittle of news of any kind has been received concerning her, and no other fishing vessel appears to have seen her.

The officers and crew are as follows:

Alfred Ledner (captain), Shakespeare Avenue, Milford Haven, aged 45. Married, eight children.

E. Stockman (mate), New Road, Brixham, Devon, 50.  Married

B. Bucknole (boatswain), Pill, Milford Haven (23).

A. McKilop (third hand), 85, Priory Road, Milford Haven (28).  Married.  Hails from Belfast.

Fred King (deckhand), Charles Street, Milford Haven (19).  Chief support of widowed mother and large family.

W. Smith (cook), Brook Avenue, Milford Haven. Married.

W. G. Dixon (chief engineer), 12, Gwili Road, Hakin, Milford Haven. Married, two children.

W. Halbert (second engineer), St. Peters Road, Milford Haven (40).  Married, 2 children.

H. Freebleton (third engineer), Water Street, Pembroke Dock (37).  Married.

The Petunia was owned by the Rainbow Steam Trawling Co., Ltd., and managed by Messrs. H. E. Rees and Co., Milford Haven.

All the cases are sad.  The skipper has a wife and 8 children, most of them quite young.  He was a jolly fellow a typical son of the sea and had been in Milford for very many years, coming from the East Coast.  The case of the young boy, King is also very tragic.  His father was drowned at sea some years ago off a line fishing vessel.  He was the chief wage earner for his mother and a large family, and there are other distressing cases.

The fact that so many families are suddenly bereaved of the breadwinners will stir the sympathy of the townspeople, and we believe that a public meeting will be called to organise a relief fund.  Notice of this will be given, and we bespeak the sympathetic consideration of the inhabitants, for we all live by the sacrifice of the brave fishermen.  These days recall the anxious time some years ago when the s.t. Devon failed to return.


The steam trawler, Penrice Castle, is also considerably overdue.  She carries a crew of 11 men, and Skipper Rogerson is believed to be a Milford man, whose home is in Cardiff.  The vessel was due to arrive in Swansea on March 5th.  She had not put in an appearance up to the time of going to press.



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