Official No:  118304    Port and Year:   121st in London, 1903 (LO177)

                                                                     21st in Swansea, 1906 (SA31)

                                                                       -     in Aberdeen, 1911 (A505)

                                                                       -     in Grimsby, 1917 (GY1107)

Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged.

Crew: 9 men (1917).

Built: 1903; by Smith's Docks Co., North Shields.  (Yard no. 698)

Tonnage: 192 grt  72 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 110.0  / 21.0  / 11.2

Engine: T.3-cyl; 56 rhp;  by North East Marine Engineering Co., Sunderland.



As LO177

23 Jul 1903: Castle Steam Trawlers, Docks, Milford.

Manager: G. H. D. Birt


As SA31

29 Aug 1906: Castle Steam Trawlers, South Dock Basin, Swansea.

Manager: Crawford Heron.

[ Thanks to Bryan Richards www.swanseamariners.org.uk ]


1 Oct 1906:  Emprela Lisbonesa, Lisbon.




1913:  William H. Dodds, 172 Market St., Aberdeen.

Managing owner.


As GY1107

Nov 1917: Overseas Steam Fishing Co., Grimsby.

Manager: W. H. Beeley.


Sep 1920: Bowering's Steam Fishing Co., Grimsby.

Managers: Beeley & Sleight., Ltd


Dec 1932:  John Buchan, 18 Walker Rd., Aberdeen.

Managing owner.


1935: Gorspen Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., 1 Bon-Accord Square, Aberdeen.

Manager: Alexander J. Spence, 159 Balnagask Rd., Aberdeen. (1935.)

                  Benjamin Allenby, Commercial Quay, Aberdeen. (1936.)


1936: Alexander A. Davidson, Commercial Quay, Aberdeen.

Managing owner.


Dec 1940:  J. Bennett (Wholesale) Ltd, Grimsby.

Manager: W. A. Bennett.


Oct 1944: Thornton Trawlers, Fleetwood.

Managers: J. Marr & Son.


Landed at Milford: 30 Jul 1903 - 13 Jul 1904

Skippers: Joseph Huddleston


Picton Castle, originally a motte and bailey near Haverfordwest, was built in the 13th century and acquired by the Phillips family in the 15th century.

4 Aug 1903: An explosion of her boiler caused two deaths of Berehaven.  [See below.]

Aug 1914: Requisitioned by the Admiralty as DINORAH and converted to a minesweeper (Admy.No. 288). 1 x 3pdr.

1919: Returned to owners.

5 Aug 1933: DINORAH went ashore 1 miles S.W. of Gourdon (Aberdeenshire); weather calm; expected refloated at next tide.  [The Times, Monday 7th August 1933. ]

28 April 1945: Foundered off Bridlington, believed by mine contact.

[Information supplied by the Fleetwood Maritime Trust and the Bosun's Watch website.]

Accidents and Incidents

From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 12th August 1903:


    The boiler explosion on the Milford steam trawler Picton Castle, off the Irish coast, has resulted in the death of two men.  Michael Kennedy, the fireman, was killed outright, and the chief engineer, Nicholas Atkinson, died afterwards in hospital.  Both of the men belonged to North Shields.



From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 7th October 1903:


    The Board of Trade held an inquiry at the Masonic Hall, Milford, on Thursday, into the causes which led to an explosion on the "Picton Castle", a new steam trawler, belonging to the Castle Steam Trawling Company, Limited, by which two lives were lost. The inquiry was conducted by Captain Cosens and Captain Bigg, nautical assessors, and Mr Shaw, engineering assessor, with whom were associated Col. W. R. Roberts, and Mr J. Ll. Davies.  Mr E. T. Strick represented the Board of Trade. Mr W. B. Prichard, the Owners of the "Picton Castle", Mr W. Davies-George, the skipper of the "Picton Castle", on behalf of the Port of Hull Fishermen's Trade Protection Society, and Mr H.J. Evans, the widow of the chief engineer of the "Picton Castle",  who was killed by the explosion.  Others present at the inquiry were Mr G. H. D. Birt, manager of the Castle Line Company, Mr W. B. Adamson, surveyor to the Board of Trade, Mr James Brotherson, outdoor manager to the Sunderland firm who built the boat, Mr Thomas G. Hancock, assistant manager to the Castle Line Company, and others.

    Mr Strick, in opening, said the "Picton Castle" was built this year at Sunderland, and made her first voyage on the 23rd July last.  The skipper, Joseph Huddleston, gave evidence as to the "Picton Castle" making her first voyage to the fishing grounds, and having to put back to Milford for repairs to her boilers.  These having been done she went out again to the fishing grounds, where the fact that the leak had again broken out was reported to him.  That was on August 3rd.  The next evening about 11.30 the explosion took place, causing such injuries as resulted in the death of the chief engineer, Atkinson, and a trimmer named Kennedy.

    Frank Rees Power, superintendent engineer of the Castle Steam Trawling Company Ltd., residing at Milford, said he had been superintendent for seven years.  He remembered the "Picton Castle" arriving at Milford at 7.30 p.m. on the 30th of July.  He was sent for and went on board, and ordered the chief to blow the boilers down for next morning. The next morning he examined the leak.  After everything had been cleaned out, he found a small leak, like a pin hole.  It was so small that they could not find it until they had run some cold water into the boiler. He had the leak caulked by a boiler maker named Brice, and witness saw it afterwards and it then seemed all right.  He also examined the "Picton Castle" after she came to Milford from Castletown, and where they had caulked the leak before they saw a lump of salt on the seam in the combustion chamber.

    By Mr. Pritchard: he held a second class Board of Trade certificate as engineer. There was nothing special about the leak, it  was a very common occurrence to find leaks. By the Assessors: The vessel was perfectly sound when she left Milford.  The accumulation in the combustion chamber had taken place after she had cone to sea. There were three hands in the engineering department. 

    William Brice, boiler-maker, in the employ of the Castle Steam Trawling Company, Ltd, said he had been a member of the Boiler Maker's Society since l894. He spoke of examining the boiler under Mr Power's instructions and caulking the same, in the usual manner.  James Brotherson, of Sunderland, outside manager for North Eastern Marine Engineering Company, said the "Picton Castle" was one of ten of that class his firm had built for the Castle Steam Trawling Company, Ltd. They were all built under supervision and duly classed at Lloyd's.  The boiler was tested at 320lbs, in the presence of Lloyd's surveyor.  The working pressure was 160 lbs.  Witness  was on board when the trial trip took place, when everything was satisfactory.  The vessel left on her first voyage a day or two afterwards.  A few days afterwards  he received a telegram from Mr Birt, at Milford, stating that the boiler of the "Picton Castle" had exploded at Bantry Bay, Castletown, and that the trimmer had died and the chief engineer was not expected to live. On the 7th of August he arrived at Bantry Bay, and found the "Picton Castle" under steam in the Bay, and he went on board at once. He was sure that everything had been left as it was after the explosion. He had every thing taken out, and examined the boiler.  At first he could find nothing, but he had the combustion chamber cleaned out afresh, and he found a mark where the salt had been. There was no accumulation of salt then, but all

was clear.  He could not find a leak then, but he found where one had been caulked.  Afterwards when the Surveyor of the Board of Trade came he had some water run in, and he found a small leak, which he caulked himself.  Afterwards the vessel was allowed to go. He found the engine-room very clean, but the stoke hole  was very dirty and full of ashes. There was nothing in the combustion chamber to show there had been an explosion, but in the stoke-hole he found a few broken pieces of salt blown among the ashes.  The explosion was caused by the back of the combustion chamber being encrusted with salt and soot, and had this been kept clear no explosion would have occurred.  A pigeon hole was provided for the purpose of keeping this clear.

    By Mr Pritchard: They guaranteed these boats for six months, and nominated the chief engineer for that time.  The chief engineer, Atkinson, was a very good man. He attributed the explosion to the neglect in using a rake to keep the combustion chamber clear. 

    By Mr Davies-George: The cleaning of the pigeon-hole was entirely a matter for the engineers. 

    By the Assessors: Had the pigeon-hole been kept clear the explosion could not have taken place.  The engineer was a guarantee man and appointed by witness' firm. The leakage was very small, it was very common in a new boiler to have these leaks. The engineer was not a mechanic, but he had some experience as an engineer on a tug-boat. He could not express an opinion as to  whether the chief's experience was sufficient to qualify for such a post as this.  He had held a similar post on another trawler of the same company.  The chief  was not certificated, but he was a very steady man.

    By Mr. H. J. Evans:  The chief engineer was a fully experienced man.  It was very common for a new boiler to have slight leaks such as this.

    By Mr. J. Ll. Davies:  With the experience the chief engineer had he ought to have known to keep the pigeon-hole clear.

    By Mr. Strick:  In the case of a leak such as this the proper thing to do  was to caulk it, as was done at Milford. That  was, in his opinion, quite sufficient.

    Thomas McGill, of North Shields, the second engineer on the "Picton Castle", said he held no certificate.  He shipped on the "Picton Castle" as second engineer at North Shields, and had had six years' experience as second engineer.  He was on board the "Picton Castle" on her trial trip, when everything appeared to be all right. He left  with her for the fishing grounds on the 22nd of July.  All was right for about five days, when they sprung a leak in the back end.  Witness and the chief had alternate  watches.  The chief had told him to keep the pigeon-hole clear, and he did so, using for the purpose a rake about nine feet long. As the weather was bad the skipper decided to run into Milford and have the leak repaired which had manifested itself. Witness assisted to clear the boiler, and when the leak was found it appeared to him to be a bad seam.  It was caulked and they left Milford on the Saturday. On the following Sunday the chief reported a blow from a leak at the back part of the boiler, and on the Monday witness saw the blow, but the chief said it would salt up. He again told the  witness to keep the pigeon-hole clear, and he did so, as far as possible. The blowing stopped on the Monday afternoon.  On the Tuesday evening  witness was awakened up by the chief calling him, and going into the stoke-hole he found 110 lbs of steam on, and an inch of water in the glass.  He found in the stoke-hole ashes which had been blown out of the fire. Water was corning from the back end. Witness used the rake every hour, but the pigeon-hole got choked up, and though the chief and himself used both rake and slice they found it was no good.

    By Mr George:  He never heard the chief say anything to the skipper as to the pigeon-hole being blocked up.

    By the Assessors:  Witness thought the salt would gradually stop the leak.  He never gave a thought to the greater danger of an explosion through the blocking of the combustion chamber.

    Mr. W. B. Adamson, of Belfast, surveyors to the Board of Trade, said he examined the boiler of the "Picton Castle" at Castletown. He found not the slightest sign of there having been a boiler explosion, and it was only after running water into the boiler that he found a slight leak.  He saw no actual incrustation of salt, but he

picked up several pieces of some 4 or 5 inches thick. It was highly probable that the explosion occurred owing to the closing up of the combustion chamber by the incrustation of salt and soot, and had that been kept open no explosion would have occurred.  It seemed also probable that the men were killed by being struck by pieces of this incrustation.  He saw nothing  which led him to think the boiler seam was faulty.

    By the Assessors: A small stream of water from the leakage  would generate into steam, leaving salt behind, which  could mix  with soot and ashes, and form

the incrustation.  Had the pigeon-hole been attended to strictly, and kept clear, the explosion could not possibly have occurred.  The explosion arose from steam generated in the combustion chamber. In his opinion the chief engineer was to blame for the explosion because he did not keep the pigeon hole clear.

    This concluded the evidence.  Mr Strick submitted the questions in which he asked the assessors to give judgment.  Mr Pritchard also argued that the Owners had done everything  which was usual in such cases, and Mr George argued that the conduct of the skipper was worthy of all praise. Mr Strick said no blame was attached to the skipper, if any one was to blame it was the poor man who had lost his life, the chief engineer. The assessors reserved their findings until Friday.


The inquiry was resumed on Friday morning, when the assessors delivered the following judgment.


1. The leak in the bottom seam of the back plate of the combustion chamber of the boiler was properly and efficiently repaired after the vessel put back to Milford on the 30th of July last.                                                                                                            

2.  The combustion chamber was properly cleaned and in good seaworthy condition when she left Milford on the 1st of August last.

3.  The leak did again break out after the vessel left Milford on the 1st of August last.  Temporary measures were taken by the engineers to keep the combustion chamber clear of an accumulation of salt and ashes, by the use of a long rake and slice, but these measures were totally inadequate to prevent such an accumulation increasing and the explosion such as subsequently took place.

4.  The cause of the explosion and loss of life was due to an accumulation of salt arising from a leak in the bottom seam of the starboard combustion chamber and the failure to keep the pigeon-hole clear.

5.  The casualty and loss of life  was not caused by the wrongful act or default of the second engineer nor by the neglect of Mr Frank Rees Power, superintending engineer.

    The court having carefully inquired into the whole circumstances attending the above mentioned  shipping casualty finds that the cause of the explosion and loss of life was due to an accumulation of salt, arising from a leak in the bottom seam of the starboard combustion chamber, and the failure to keep the pigeon-hole clear. The court desire to express their appreciation of the captain's presence of mind, and of the very proper steps taken by him for the aid of the injured men at the time of the accident.  The court also suggested that the steam trawlers should carry on board simple remedies for accidents of the kind, and it would be of great advantage if the captain or mate, or both, were qualified to give first aid in case of accident. Mr Strick said it would be very satisfactory to the Board of Trade to find that the captain's conduct was all that could be desired. He (Mr Strick) was sure he had done all that was possible under the circumstances and it  was satisfactory to find that there was such a good captain on board a steam vessel (trawler).

    Mr W. Davies-George, on behalf of the captain, said he was very grateful to the court for the word of praise in his favour in their report.

    This concluded the inquiry.



From the Cambrian of Friday 13th July 1906:



    An accident happened on board the steam trawler Picton Castle whilst in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday afternoon. The third hand, Walter Eastern (19), 175, High-street Swansea, got his legs injured while hauling in a trawl of fish through the pin of one of the blocks breaking. He was admitted to the Swansea Hospital on Thursday, and on Friday morning was reported to be progressing satisfactory.



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