Official No:  143906    Port Number and Year: 679th  in London, 1919 (LO ?)

                                                                                   12th in Montrose, 1920 (ME96)

                                                                                      1st in Aberdeen, 1924 (A6)

                                                                                      1st in Milford, 1951

Description: Strath Class steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: foresail, mizzen.  Pareja (Spanish) method.

Crew:  9 men (1951); 12 men (later).

Registered in Milford: 9 Apr 1951

Built: 1918, by Montrose Ship Building Co., Montrose.  (Yard no. 80)

Tonnage: 201.62 grt 81.4 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet):  115.1  / 22.1 / 12.1

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 56.7 nhp. 10 kts. Engine by William Beardmore & Co., Coatbridge, Glasgow; and boiler by Lindsay Burnett & Co., Glasgow.




1919: The Admiralty, London.

Manager: The Secretary, Admiralty, Whitehall, London S.W.1


15 Nov 1919: The Montrose Fishing Co. Ltd., 81 High St., Montrose.

Manager: Charles F. Paton, 25 East Clyde St., Glasgow.

26 Dec 1919: As DAVID CONN ME96


Manager: W. C. Simpson.  (1922)


1923: Boston Deep Sea Fishing & Ice Co. Ltd., Boston, Lincs.

Manager: Fred Parkes, Wyberton, Boston.


As A6

23 Jan 1924: Misses M. &  Kate H. Lewis, Inchgarth, Pitfodels, Aberdeen

Manager: William A. Mackie, 175 Grampian Rd., Aberdeen.


1932: William A. Leith, Jameson's Quay, Aberdeen.

Managing owner.


1938: Boston Deep Sea Fishing & Ice Co. Ltd.,, Dock St., Fleetwood.

Manager: Basil A. Parkes, 'Parkroyd', Linksgate, Thornton-le-Fylde, Lancs.


1943: Northern Trawlers Ltd., Hull

Manager: William A. Bennett.


1947: St. Christopher Steam Fishing Co., London.

Manager: Basil A. Parkes, Cleveleys.


As M130

9 Apr 1951: J. C. Llewellin (Trawlers), Docks, Milford

Manager: John Charles Llewellin.


Landed at Milford: 3 Apr 1951 - 14 Jan 1955.

Skippers: Jack Garnham; K. G. Wade; Matt Owston


David Conn, age 24, born Stratford, London; Landsman, HMS VICTORY, at Trafalgar.

13 Jul 1918: Completed as DAVID CONN for the Admiralty  (Admy.no. 3691). 1x12 pdr.

1919: Sold to mercantile, after registration at London, and renamed RIVER SPEY.

22 Jan 1924: Montrose registry closed.

23 Mar 1934: Skipper George Marsh pleaded guilty at Stornaway to illegal trawling on 16th December 1933 off the Butt of Lewis, and elected to go to prison, rather than pay the 125 fines for forty days.  [The Times, Saturday, 24th March 1934.]

8 Apr 1940: Requisitioned by the Admiralty for patrol duties (P.No. FY 1643).

20 Apr 1940: Fitted out as a minesweeper.
Apr 1944: Fitted out for danlaying and miscellaneous duties.
Nov 1944: Returned to owners.

16 Jan 1955: Sank alongside fish market at Milford.  Salvage contract awarded to D. V. Howells; raised and broken up at Ward's yard, Castle Pill, 1956. 

[See story and photograph below.]

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 4 Aug 1955. Vessel broken up.

[ Thanks to The Bosun's Watch and the Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust. ]

Accidents and Incidents

From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 17th August 1951:


    The Milford steam trawlers River Spey and Shielburn, owned by J.C. Llewellin (Trawlers) Ltd., landed a record post-war trip at Milford on Tuesday.  In a twelve day trip to the western Irish fishing grounds, they caught 401 kits, to gross 4,310, which is 104 in excess of the previous best pair voyage.

    The trawlers, in charge of Skipper Jack Garnham (Sen.) and Mat Owston, had a lovely catch which included 193 kits of big hake, 95 of medium and 31 of small.




From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 15th May 1953:  


FISHING FIGURES.  This has been another week of fluctuating prices, but best quality has remained steady in demand and value.  .....

Top pair trip was that of the River Spey and Shielburn (Skippers Matt Owston and Victor Adams) who had 76 of large hake, 85 of medium and 69 of small between them to gross 2,716.




John Stevenson Collection


From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 21st January 1955:


    Three Milford firemen jumped to safety with only seconds to spare when the steam trawler 'River Spey' sank in Milford Dock early on Sunday morning.  The vessel, which docked on Friday night and landed her fish on Saturday, was berthed in the dock between two other trawlers, the 'Shielburn' and the 'Letterston', and there was no crew aboard her over Saturday night.

    Just after 6 a.m. on Sunday, a docks' watchman noticed that the 'River Spey's' engine room was flooded, and he raised the alarm.  The Fire Brigade turned out at once with three pumps, but when they arrived the deck was flooded with water up to the gunwales.  Pumping started at once, but it was only about a quarter of an hour before the vessel began to sink.

    The two hawsers by which the vessel was tied to the other trawlers snapped like pieces of string, the vessel tilted over, and down she went, the three firemen jumping off as she began to go.  She settled in the water with the stern completely submerged but the bows still showing.  The trawlers alongside her were not damaged, although at first it appeared as if she was leaning against the 'Shielburn', which was on the inside by the dock wall.  The 'Letterston', which was on the outside, moved away when the hawser snapped.  It was fortunate also that Deputy Chief Officer J. A. Germain was in charge of keeping three pumps on the inside trawler, as the speed with which the 'River Spey' sank allowed scarcely any time for removing equipment. 

    The three firemen who had such a narrow escape were Sub-Officer W. Thompson, Leading Fireman W. Wood and Fireman Ken Thompson.  The Fire Brigade turned out two teams, and Leading Fireman Wood, who was in the first team, said, "We used a small crane to get the pump aboard the 'Shielburn', and Fireman Ken Thompson and myself went down a ladder aboard the 'River Spey' .  I noticed that the water from the suction aboard her was being lapped over the bulwarks in the stern.  We started pumping and tried to get down towards the stern, but found the water up to our knees at the bridge of the ship.  She started to settle down by the stern, and Ken, with W. Thompson, who had also come aboard, scrambled back up the ladder on to the 'Shielburn'.  I didn't wait - I jumped and grabbed hold of the gunwales  of the 'Shielburn' and pulled myself up by the scuppers."

    "The 'River Spey'  was gradually slipping down by the stern all the time.  First the aft hawser, and then the midships one holding the vessel, snapped, and we were afraid she was going to pull the whole machine over the side with the pump.  Fireman Charlie Parfitt and myself were on the deck of the 'Shielburn' when someone shouted 'Duck!', and as we did so the funnel came crashing down with the masts of the 'River Spey'  onto the deck as she slid down.  We had to duck to miss the funnel."

    The 'River Spey' (250 tons) is owned by Messrs. J. C. Llewellin, Ltd., and pairs with the 'Letterston' for trawling.  But for the accident, the pair would have gone to sea on Monday.

    The cause of the vessel sinking will not be known until the 'River Spey'  is raised, although it is thought that it might be due to a defect in the condenser.  Salvage experts arrived from Cardiff on Monday, and a diver has been down to make investigations prior to the commencement of raising operations.  Members of the County Fire Brigade have stood by since the 'River Spey' sank, and at intervals have pumped out the water which has been filling into sections above water.



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