PICTON SEA EAGLE M68
On trials, with a temporary port number.
John Stevenson Collection
[Also see below]
Official No: 300160 Port Number and Year: 3rd in Milford, 1958
Description: Steel side trawler; single screw motor vessel.
Crew: 9 men (1958). See photograph below.
Registered at Milford: 16 Jun 1958
Built: by Richards Iron Works, Horn Hill, Lowestoft, in 1958. (Yard no. 441)
Tonnage: 196.68 gross 64.15 net
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 106.4 / 23.1 / 10.35
Engine: One internal combustion vertical, oil; two single acting. 5-Cyl; 550 bhp; 10 kts.
H. Widdop & Co., Keighley.
16 Jun 1958: Picton Trawlers Ltd., The Docks, Milford.
Owner: Hanning Phillips, Picton Castle, Haverfordwest.
Manager: Henry William Kerr, Ships' Chandler, Docks, Milford.
25 Nov 1970: Norrard Trawlers Ltd., The Docks, Milford.
Manager: Trevor George Ingram, Steynton.
Landed at Milford: 14 Jan 1958 - 5 Jan 1981. (Laid up.)
Skippers: 1958-1963: Cliff Saunders; 1963: Martin Davies; 1964-65: Albert Riby 1964-1965; 1965-70: Alfred Beckett. 1978: G. Tripp; R. J. Foster; N. I. Phillips
Notes: 1963: Featured in the film Milford Fishermen, in command of Skipper Bob Foster. [See story below.]
1981: Laid up, then sold to Maurice Colclough for conversion to restaurant, in the form of a floating "Spanish galleon". [See story below.]
13 Jul 1987: Towed to Swansea Marina.
Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 8 Jul 1986. Sold and no longer used for fishing.
Accidents and Incidents:
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 10th January 1958:
A new trawler for Milford Haven will be launched at the Lowestoft yard of Richard Ironworks Ltd. next month. She is 116ft. long with a 33ft. beam and is being built for Picton Trawlers Ltd., a company which already owns the modern diesel trawler Picton Sea Lion at the port. The new vessel, as yet un-named, will be larger than the Picton Sea Lion, and will join the crabber section of the Milford fleet.
The principals of Picton Trawlers Ltd. are the Hon. Hanning and Lady Marion Philipps of Picton Castle. Their trawling interests are managed by Messrs. W. H. Kerr and Company, Ltd.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 21st March 1958:
A second trawler for Picton Trawlers Ltd., of Milford Haven, will be launched at Lowestoft on Saturday and will be named Picton Sea Eagle.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 6th June 1958:
MILFORD'S FINE NEW TRAWLER
Sea Eagle Impresses Visitors
The arrival in Milford Haven last Saturday of the brand new trawler "Picton Sea Eagle" created great interest in the port and the vessel was visited by many associated with the local fishing industry.
The "Sea Eagle", a 1161 ft. diesel trawler, incorporating the most modern improvements, was built at Lowestoft for Picton Trawlers Ltd., of which the Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire, the Hon. Hanning Philipps, Picton Castle, is the principal. The trawler is being managed by Messrs. W. H. Kerr and Co.,, Milford Haven.
Apart from its spotless cleanliness and luxury fittings, "Sea Eagle" is different in appearance from any vessel yet seen at Milford. She has a novel "look ahead" type of wheelhouse, designed to give greater visibility, and instead of a mizzen mast a Schat davit is provided for the handling of the lifeboat.
The design incorporates all kinds of new features. Outstanding is the accommodation for Skipper and crew, which is not only different in lay-out but reaches a new high standard in space and comfort.
"Sea Eagle" arrived in Milford early on Saturday after her maiden voyage from Lowestoft in charge of 28-year-old Skipper Clifford Saunders. She fished a 12-day trip, making £1,059 with 198 kits.
At noon on Saturday representatives of the industry and friends of the Company were entertained on board. The trawler was dressed over-all for the occasion and on Sunday several more visitors were shown round by Mr. Kerr and other representatives of the Company.
On Tuesday "Sea Eagle" set off again for the fishing grounds, a magnificent addition to Milford's fleet and carrying with her the best wishes of the whole port.
Courtesy of Terry and Alan Saunders
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 7th June 1963:
Mr. Barrie Thomas of Main Street, Fishguard, the well-known television cameraman, left on an interesting trip on Wednesday. He sailed on the trawler Picton Sea Eagle from Milford Haven for the Outer Hebrides to take a documentary film for schools on "Hake Fishing". After filming, he will be landed on the Outer Hebrides and flown back to Cardiff.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 9th May 1966:
A fine hake catch was recorded by the Picton Sea Eagle (Skipper A. Beckett) when she landed at Milford Fish Market on Monday. 69 kits of hake were included in the total catch of 284 kits, which realised £2,170.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th September 1969:
MILFORD COUNCIL TO CALL MEETING?
The Milford Haven fishing fleet will be further reduced today when the crabber class trawler "Deeside", one of the newest vessels in the port, will leave for Lowestoft.
"NO LONGER IN FINANCIAL POSITION"
Meanwhile there is a big question mark over the only two hake-class boats still left in the port.
The Clerk (Mr. Andre Devall) reported to the Council's Town Planning Committee on Wednesday that he had received a visit from Major the Hon. R. Hanning Philipps and his accountant.
Major Hanning Phillips, he said, had asked if Cllr. F. D. G. Jones, as a Trade Union representative, could be present at the discussion when it was indicated that his Company operating the Picton Sea Eagle and Picton Sea Lion would have to withdraw these fishing vessels as the Company was no longer in a financial position to continue.
(Further enquiries on Thursday revealed that both the Picton trawlers will continue to fish from the port.)
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 13th February 1970:
Two more trawlers joined the Milford fishing fleet at sea on Saturday. The Ranworth Queen, which had been used for ferrying herrings from Northern Ireland to the Continent, sailed on Saturday under Messrs. Kerr's management, and in charge of Skipper Cliff Saunders on her first trip locally.
Also sailing on Saturday was the crabber class trawler Picton Sea Eagle, which had been laid up for some time. Managed by Norrard Trawlers, she is in charge of Skipper Billy Phillips.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 28th September 1973:
The Norrard trawler Picton Sea Eagle (Skipper Jim Broadie) returned to port on Saturday after damaging her propeller on a submerged object on the fishing grounds. She has been up on the slip at Milford Docks for inspection and repairs, and is due to return to sea today (Friday).
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 16th June 1978:
Axe Falls On Milford Fishing
(Exclusive by Ethel Clark)
The axe which been poised over Milford Haven's fishing industry finally fell on Thursday when Norrard Trawlers Ltd. announced that they are going into liquidation.
In an exclusive statement issued to the "Guardian" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, the directors of the firm announced that their five trawlers are ceasing operations. This means the end of Milford's fishing industry as a viable concern.
The Norrard vessels involved are the Bryher, Rosevear, Picton Sea Lion, Picton Sea Eagle and Norrard Star.
This means that Milford Haven is left with only two small trawlers, the Westerdale, owned by Mr. Bruno Linke and the Arthur Harvey, owned by two local tugmasters.
[ This decision was rescinded seven weeks later, on 4th August 1978.]
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 27th April 1979:
The Milford Haven trawler PICTON SEA EAGLE made a record £18,979 when she landed a huge catch of cod at Fleetwood on Wednesday.
In charge of Milford's youngest trawler master, Skipper Robert Foster, the Norrard Trawlers vessel's catch weighed 371 tons, or 500 Milford-sized kits, most of it cod.
"The fact was that Milford fish merchants just couldn't handle that amount of cod in one day as things are now," said Norrard director Mr. Alan Packman. "And, of course, there are better prices for that class of fish prevailing in Fleetwood."
"But," he emphasised, "there are no plans for our trawlers to continue landing in Fleetwood and we don't want this week's landing there to be mis-interpreted."
Mr. Packman said his company was "very pleased" with the success of their vessel and he went on to pay tribute to Skipper Foster and his crew. "Five hundred kits of fish is an awful lot for a six-man crew to handle in their ten days at sea," he commented. "We are very glad for the crew's sake, too, that the catch made such a good price."
The crew of the Picton Sea Eagle did not return home to Milford for their 48-hours ashore before the ship called again on Thursday.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 27th April 1979:
Trawler owner explains Fleetwood landings
Reports that Milford Haven fishmerchants are angry because local trawlers are landing their catches at Fleetwood have been refuted by the fishmerchants' official spokesman.
On behalf of the Fishmerchants' Association, their secretary, Mr. Hugh Kerr, said on Wednesday: "We must agree that the particular class of fish involved, in quantity, is not conducive to the trade at this port. We are aware that the local trawlers will be returning to their traditional grounds within a few days."
It is Milford's only remaining firm with more than one vessel, Norrard Trawlers Ltd., some of whose five vessels have been landing catches of "small" fish from Morecombe Bay at Fleetwood rather than bringing the supplies back to Milford. ..........
And the Norrard Trawlers Company makes no secret of the fact that it ships CAN earn several thousand pounds per catch by landing this kind of fish in Fleetwood. Last month their "flagship", the Picton Sea Eagle, netted a record £18,000 plus on one catch landed there. This week, she and the Norrard Star together grossed £18,350 by landing at the northern port.
By comparison, the Milford-owned trawler Andrew Wilson landed a nice catch at her home port on Wednesday and earned just £7,080.
[The "small" fish mentioned above refers to coley and small codling.]
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 24th October 1980:
NEW BLOW MAY SIGNAL THE END OF MILFORD FISHING
A CRUCIAL new threat to the future viability of Milford Haven's fishing industry has arisen with the laying-up of the port's top-earning trawler, the PICTON SEA EAGLE.
The 110 ft. 22-year-old trawler has a suspected cracked engine block and is laid-up in Milford docks, along with two other Norrard Trawlers ships — the NORRARD STAR and the PICTON SEA LION.
A marine surveyor will inspect the EAGLE next week and on his findings will depend Norrard's decision about the future of the Company, which now has only two vessels operating — the BRYHER and ROSEVEAR.
Norrard Trawlers admit that the withdrawal of the EAGLE is a "bad blow". It is Norrard which has been the vital cog in Keeping Milford's fishing industry going in recent years and the whole future of fishing at the port is crucially linked with that of the Company.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 31st December 1982:
Milford Trawler Fleet On Stop
Following this week's rejection by trawlermen of a one per cent cut in their share of the catch, four ships belonging to Milford Haven's largest trawler firm are "on stop" and may never go to sea again.
Norrard Trawlers director Mr. Fred Ingram said on Thursday, "I cannot see the boats ever going back to sea again." The vessels involved are the Norrard Star, Picton Sea Eagle, Bryher and Rosevear.
Soaring fuel costs now take up 37 per cent of a trawler's operating costs compared with the 10 per cent involved when the present agreement with the men was made whereby they get 36 per cent of the gross catch.
[The dispute was settled on 13th January 1983, when the crews agreed to a 10 per cent pay cut on all catches up to £7,000.]
From an undated copy of the Western Telegraph & Cymric Times of a Wednesday in March 1983:
A co-operative of Milford Haven fish merchants has bought Norrard's three remaining trawlers to give the industry in the port renewed hope. In a deal completed by 4 p.m. on Friday, the consortium bought the equity of the company for £200,000 and took over the running of the Norrard Star, Picton Sea Eagle and Bryher.
Norrard had been operating the trawler company in Milford since 1946, but now the directors, which include the President of the Trawler Owners' Association, Mr. Fred Ingram, have retired.
The chairman of the new co-operative, an amalgamation of fish merchants and smaller trawler owners, Mr. Roy Pettit of Ashley and Co., told the 'Telegraph', "The business will be run much as it was before, and we hope to get over the industry's problems."
The future of the fishing industry in Milford Haven came into question over Christmas, when the entire fleet was laid up by bad weather and spiralling fuel costs. The vessels returned to sea in the New Year, but then ran into more trouble when the trawler owners and the crew failed to reach agreement over the percentage share of the catch. Although Norrard put their four vessels up for sale a compromise was eventually reached with the twenty-five members of the crews.
Now, however, only three vessels remain in the fleet, following the sale of the Rosevear to a company in Lowestoft.
With the livelihood of 250 men, whose employment depended on the fishing industry, threatened by a firm offer for the other fishing trawlers from an East Coast company, the fish merchants decided to move in.
"There would have been no fishing industry left. We've always felt that the industry belonged in Milford, and we now hope that the situation will resolve itself," Mr. Pettit said. "We believe that we need seven or eight trawlers to service the ancillary plants and give the industry the necessary platform with which it could take off."
"There are five vessels now and we could probably do with more. We would hope to buy them and will try to earn enough money to do so," he added.
From the Western Telegraph & Cymric Times of Wednesday 17th August 1983:
The Milford Haven trawler, Picton Sea Eagle, and the Royal Maritime Service vessel Garganey, were back at work this week 50 miles south-west of the Pembrokeshire coast, attempting to salvage the remains of the R.A.F. Brawdy Hawk jet fighter, which crashed recently.
The Hawk jet was discovered some 400 feet beneath the surface last week, and already approximately half of the plane, in the form of a wing section, has been recovered and taken via Pembroke Dock to Brawdy for investigation.
However, a mixture of misfortune, the awkward depth of the plane and marginal weather have all combined to thwart the salvage team in their attempts to raise the main body of the aircraft.
The Picton Sea Eagle, which was chartered by the Ministry of Defence, has been using sounding equipment as well as dragging the sea bed with its trawls. It has had the main part of the aircraft in the nets on more than one occasion, but the fuselage has slipped away.
A spokesman for the Resident Naval Officer at Pembroke Dock said that it was difficult to estimate how long the operation would take.
From the Western Telegraph & Cymric Times of Wednesday 18th February 1987:
From Milford to the Spanish Main. That's the transformation being brought about by Brian Reynolds' new company, Haven Maritime Ltd, in its current enterprise to convert an old Milford trawler, the "Picton Sea Eagle", into an authentic [sic] Spanish galleon. The work is being undertaken by the former English rugby international, Maurice Colclough, and when completed the ship will take pride of place as a floating restaurant in the new Swansea marina. The galleon will be authentic, right down to the cannon, with only the one major difference, a stripped steel hull as opposed to the original creaking timbers. The work will take some four or five months to complete and will involve taking on up to twenty extra men. It will also mean the reopening of a dry dock at Pembroke Dock.
Trawler hulls are proving to be especially suited to the conversion work, as basic hull design changed very little over a period of centuries, and by the time the hull has been specially treated it is expected no one will be able to tell the difference. The trawler's original mainmast is to be used as the bowsprit of the galleon. The original rigging will involve a good deal of skilled workmanship, skills that have largely died out. So a specialised company from Cornwall is due to undertake that side of the work.
Courtesy of Terry and Alan Saunders
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