SLEBECH M229 / M199

Official No:  128741     Port Number and Year:  10th in Milford, 1908 (M229)

                                                                                  14th in Fleetwood, 1919 (FD74)

                                                                                    3rd in Milford, 1921 (M199)

Description: Steel side / beam trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: foresail, mainsail, mizzen.

Crew:  9 men (1908); 10 men (1921).

Registered at Milford: 9 Nov 1908 (M229); 10 May 1921 (M199)

Built: 1908 by Smith's Dock Co., North Shields.  (Yard no. 386)

Tonnage: 221.93 grt  85.16 net. (1946: 221.8 grt.)

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 120.5 / 21.6 / 11.6 (1946: 13.0)

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 68 nhp. 10 kts.  Engine by W.V.V. Lidgerwood, Coatbridge, Glasgow; boiler by David Rowan & Co., Glasgow.



As M229

9 Nov 1908: Neyland Steam Trawling & Fishing Co. Ltd., Neyland.

Manager: Alexander Scott, Llanstadwell, Neyland (9 Nov 1908)

                David Gwilliam Jones, Neyland. (Based in Falmouth) (27 Aug 1918)


14 Feb 1919: John Uttley, Orient Buildings, Station Rd., Fleetwood

Manager: Joseph A. Taylor. (Same address.)

8 Mar 1919: As FD74.

1920: Mrs. Alice A. Uttley, 131 Hornby Rd., Blackpool.  (Same manager.)


As M199

10 May 1921: Joseph Samuel Pettit, 'Blakely House', Priory Rd., Milford. 

                                                          'Waynefleet', The Rath, Milford. (By 1924.)

Managing owner.


23 Sep 1927: Hakin Steam Trawling Co.,  The Docks, Milford.

Frederick Steer, 22 St. Peter's Rd., Milford.                                                      ) 

Horace Samuel Fiddy, 'Stratford House', Shakespeare Ave., Milford.              )   Joint

Joseph Baron Bardsley Huddlestone, 'Dania Villa', Wellington Rd., Hakin.     ) Owners

Managing owner: Joseph Samuel Pettit, 'Waynefleet', The Rath, Milford.       )


16 Apr 1937: Westward Trawlers Ltd., The Docks,  Milford.

(Edgar E. Carter, Milford,  & Richard S. Bowen, Port Talbot.)

Manager: Edgar E. Carter, 16 Great North Rd., Milford.


2 Apr 1947: Westward Trawlers Ltd., The Docks, Milford

Manager: Erel Edwin Carter, 16 Great North Rd., Milford.


Landed at Milford:  

As M229: 7 Nov 1908 - 14 Apr 1915 (Also landed at Neyland - see below.)

As M119: 1 Jun 1921 - 3 Dec 1939; 9 Jan - 31 Dec 1940; 12 Apr 1941 - 3 Feb 1942; 13 Oct 1942 - 14 Mar 1943; 6 Apr 1945;  24 Jan 1946 - 25 Nov 1959


Ernest Alfred Sheldon cert. 7110, age 26, born Plymouth; residing 33 Kensington Rd., Neyland; signed on 26 Oct 1908; 9 Jan, 3 Jul 1909; 22 Jan, 21 Jul 1911; 22 Jan, 8 Jul 1912

A. Symons 5417, 38, Plymouth; 4 May 1910

Claude Howes 10090, 29, London; 24 Lawrenny St., Neyland; 6 Jan 1912

J. H. Gardner 6417, 32, Brixham; 18 Jul 1912; 11 Jan 1913

W. Rogerston 1043, 23, Calcutta; 21 Dec 1912

T. A. Goodridge 7648, 39, Tenby; Charles St., Neyland; 14 Apr, 5 Jul 1913


Slebech is a parish in Pembrokeshire, on the Eastern Cleddau River; thought to be derived from a Viking word meaning ‘sandy beach’ [], but Old Icelandic 'sandr' (sand) and 'fjara' (beach) do not sound similar to "Slebech".

May 1915: Requisitioned by Admiralty as minesweeper (Admy. No. 1758). 1 x 6 pdr. 

1919: Returned to owners.

7 Dec 1939: Requisitioned by Admiralty as minesweeper. [No landings after 3 Dec 1939 until 9 Jan 1940.]

13 Jan 1940: Returned.

23 Feb 1940: Requisitioned for war service and appointed for minesweeping duties.

28 Feb 1940: Returned.

3 Dec 1940: Attacked by German aircraft gunfire; 5 miles WNW of Skelligs. [No landings after 31 Dec 1940 until 12 April 1940.]

2 Nov 1941: On Irish grounds (Sk. Harry L. Thompson); about 12 miles off Old Head of Kinsale picked up crew of CALIPH (M234) which foundered after being bombed by German aircraft.

Jun 1942: Sk. Thompson, Hakin; awarded MBE for bravery in rescuing crew of CALIPH. [No landings after 3 Feb until 13 Oct 1942.]

15 Mar 1943: Converted to an Esso (fuel carrier), P. No. Y7.28  [No landings after 14 Mar 1943 until 24 Jan 1946, apart from one on 6 Apr 1945.]

[See Milford landings above which confirm that her RNR Skippers were G.W. Ling (30 Jun 1943 - 6 Jul 1944) and W.A. Hawkings (6 Jul 1944 - early 1945).]

Jan 1944: Converted to a water carrier.

21 Jan 1946: Returned to owners. 

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

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed:  

7 Mar 1919 (M229): Vessel transferred to the port of Fleetwood.

21 Mar 1960 (M199): Vessel broken up.

 Accidents and Incidents

From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser of Friday 18th September 1908:



    On Wednesday there was launched from the shipbuilding yard of Messrs. Smith's Dock Company, Limited, North Shields, two finely modelled steel screw trawlers of the following dimensions: 128'-6" x 21'-6" x 12'-6". They will be fitted with engines with cylinders 12½"-20", and 33" by 24" stroke, by 180lbs. pressure. The vessels are fitted with a top-gallant forecastle, with accommodation for crew underneath same. A very large and powerful steam winch will be fitted, and all the latest and most approved appliances for deep sea trawling. Both hull and engines are built under Lloyd's survey and will obtain its highest class.

    As the vessels left the ways they were gracefully named the "Caldy" and "Slebech" respectively by Mrs. Davies and Miss Adelaide Davies, of Neyland, South Wales.

    Amongst those present was Captain Davies, one of the Directors of the Neyland Steam Trawling and Fishing Co., for whom the vessels are being built.



From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser of Friday 3rd September 1909:



Fishing Industry.- Since Monday, August 23rd, the following boats have come into Neyland and disposed of their catches at the market — the Bush £190, Urania £159, Siluria £117, Slebech £149, Caldy £106, Apley £150, Hero £163, Angle £126, and the Neyland £122. The catches have included several kits of herring, and it is expected that the trawlers will at any time run across the shoal. 


From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 23rd February 1923:

    Story of a Lost Arm


    With the tragedies of Monday and Tuesday still on the lips of Milford townspeople, the rumour was spread on Tuesday afternoon that yet another terrible accident had occurred, this time aboard a trawler. It was said that a member of the crew of the trawler "Slebech", belonging to the Hakin Steam Trawling Company, had lost an arm as a result of the explosion of a tin of calcium carbide, and that the vessel had brought him back to port in a critical condition.  Inquiries were made by the firm and the police about this ghastly affair, but so far they have found no man suffering from such injuries.  But on Tuesday, the second engineer of the above-named trawler entered the offices of the owner and complained that his left arm was numbed and useless.  His story was that when the ship was putting out to sea, and had gone as far as the Stack Rocks, he was in the act of opening a tin of carbide, when it exploded with terrific force.  Thinking that the fellow was injured and needed attention, the skipper put back to port and the engineer was sent ashore in a small boat.  Examined at the offices of the firm, nothing could be seen of any injury, for as one of the office staff put it, "Not a hair was touched," but as a matter of course and precaution, the man was sent to a doctor.  The ship put back to sea, without the supposedly badly injured second engineer.

    Such a silly rumour and exaggeration of a minor occurrence has caused some amusement but at the same time discomfort to many people. .... It appears that the "Slebech" engineer suffered a little shock.


[ Note:  The tragedies referred to in the above article referred to two items in the same issue of the newspaper.  On the Monday, a shunting engine at Ward's ship breaking yard fell through a gap in the swing bridge between the yard and Newton Noyes, killing the engine driver, Ivor Morgan of Pill, and the fireman, Ernest John Smith of Brick Houses, Pill.  On Tuesday, David Adams, a master mason, was killed by a falling lift while working at the Ice Company's Factory on the Docks.]



From The Irish Times of Monday 25th March 1929:




    Before District Justice Ford at Galway last Saturday Frederick Jack Simmons, of 16 North street, Haverford West, Milford Haven [sic], skipper of the steam trawler Slebech, and Henry Gue, of Shakespeare avenue, Milford Haven, skipper of the Phineas Beard, were charged with fishing in prohibited waters, between Hag's Head, in County Clare, and the North of Aran Isles, in Galway Bay, last Thursday.


    Commander Thompson, of the Free State patrol boat Muirichu, swore that on Thursday at 2.25 p.m. he saw the Phineas Beard go inside the line and remain there for over half an hour.  He boarded the trawler and took the skipper on board.  The vessel was taken into Galway, and the nets and other fishing gear were seized.


    Captain Gue swore that he was trawling outside the limit line on Thursday, and he saw the Muirichu coming when she was six miles away.  His boat still continued towards the line.  He then took his bearings and found that he was half a mile outside the limit.


    Similar evidence to that adduced in the first case was given in the charge against Skipper Simmons, of the Slebech.

    The Justice convicted the defendants, and said that he would fine them the maximum penalty of £5 each, together with £15 costs each, and said that he would deal with the question of the disposal of gear at the next Court.  He said that the penalty prescribed was altogether inadequate.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th March 1937:


    A private company, Westward Trawlers Ltd., was registered on March 15th, with a capital of £10,000.  Directors - Edgar E. Carter, 16, Great North Road; Richard S. Bowen, Grove House, Port Talbot.

    Our Milford correspondent was informed on Thursday that the Company was formed to take over the Hakin Steam Trawling Company's fleet of five trawlers: the Kuroki, Kyoto, Slebech, Caldy and Gordon Richards.  This is understood to mean that the services of the present managing director of the Company, Capt. J. H. B. Huddlestone, are to be retained.



 From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 21st January 1938:


    Milford trawler fishermen have good cause to remember the hurricane, for most of them were in the thick of it, and boats docking on Sunday and Monday bore many signs of their battering - lifeboats were missing and damaged, gear smashed.  Skippers spoke of waves mountains high.  The sea took their toll of two lives, but in one case a desperate rescue effort just failed.    ..............

    The skipper and two members of the crew of the steam trawler "Slebech" (Westward Trawlers, Limited), had a miraculous escape when the wheelhouse was smashed to bits by a wave. They were Skipper W. Faull, Marine Gardens; Mate E. Harding, Marble Hall; and deckhand W. Davies, George Street.  They escaped with scratches.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th June 1942:


    The M.B.E. is ... awarded to Skipper Harry Louis Thompson,12, St. Ann's Place, Hakin, skipper of the steam trawler "Slebech", in recognition of his bravery in saving the crew of the steam trawler "Caliph" which was sunk by enemy planes off the Irish Coast last year.  Skipper Thompson .... succeeded in the face of great danger in saving every member of the "Caliph's" crew.  A few months before, skipper Thompson played an important part in saving the crew of another ship, the steam trawler "Fort Rona", which was bombed by enemy aircraft in Cardigan Bay ....

    A native of Lowestoft, he has been sailing out of Milford for about sixteen years.  He enjoys the greatest popularity in the port, and will receive the congratulations of numerous friends.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 15th September 1950:


    Best crabber trip of the year was made by Skipper Joe Utting (Slebech) on his last voyage.  In a 13 day voyage he grossed £1,825 for 283 kits of first-class fish.  The catch included 40 kits of large hake ("Jumbo"), 12 medium hake ("Inyers"), 80 small hake ("Needles"), and 29 kits of herrings.



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.




    This class has provided a real family struggle, with Skipper Tom Salter pipping his brother-in-law on the post and his brother finishing in third place!

    The first three boats are owned by the Westward Company (Mr. E. E. Carter).

1.  Cleopatra II. (Tom Salter), Westward.

2.  Caldy (Hubert Morgans), Westward.

3.  Slebech (Harry Salter), Westward.

4.  Avonstar (Jack Ryan); 5, Ocean Brine (Frank Gambold); 6, Milford Knight (Harry Thompson); 7, Hero (Lenny Brown); 8, Montano (George Kersey); 9, Milford Countess (Teddy Funge).



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 24th August 1956:


    Milford trawlers fishing in the Minches grounds last week saluted the Royal Yacht Brittania as she passed close by carrying the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on their tour of the Scottish Islands.

    On one of the Milford trawlers, the Slebech, deckhand Joe Utting was suffering from a very painful carbuncle on his neck.  The skipper, Mr. Jack Clarke, Shakespeare Avenue, sought medical advice from the destroyer Orwell, escorting the Royal Yacht, and the ship's surgeon, a Harley Street specialist doing his R.N.V.R. training, examined Mr. Utting and treated the complaint.  The surgeon also arranged for the sick trawlerman to enter the convent hospital at Lochboisdale, which had that morning been visited by Her Majesty.

    Mr. Utting, who holds a Skipper's certificate, was a patient at the hospital for four days before the Slebech called for him to take him home, much improved.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 4th December 1959:


    Two more Milford trawlers are to be scrapped.  They are the Westward Trawlers Co. crabbers Cleopatra  and Slebech.  The Cleopatra (Skipper Bruno Linke) made her last landing this week and is now tied up to await delivery to the breakers.

    Only last week it was announced that Messrs. Hancock's big trawler, the Tenby Castle, had been sold to a Bristol Channel breakers' yard.



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