Photograph by Studio Janwen, 9 Priory St., Milford.

Kindly supplied by David Slinger.

[With new name, funnel colours and later white stripe on hull for new Nigerian owners in 1954.]


Official No:  139815   Port Number and Year:   35th in Aberdeen, 1919 (A256)

                                                                                   -     in London, 1928 (LO131)

                                                                                   5th in Milford, 1930

Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning.   Ketch rigged: mizzen sail. 

Crew:  12 men (1919).

Registered at Milford: 14 Feb 1930

Built: 1919 by John Duthie, Torry Shipbuilding Co., Aberdeen.  (Yard no. 452)

Tonnage: 275.65 grt  121.84 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.6 / 23.6 / 12.7

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 86.7 nhp. 10 kts.  Engine by Bellis & Morcom, Birmingham; boiler by Bow McLachlan & Co., Paisley.




11 Dec 1919: Onward Steam Trawlers (Fleetwood) Ltd., 1 Preston St., Fleetwood.

Manager: Walter Morley. (Same address.)

20 Oct 1927: As SAINT GABRIEL A256



23 Mar 1928: Iago Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., The Docks, Milford.
Manager: Edward D.W. Lawford, Bunkers Hill, Haverfordwest.

As M70:

14 Feb 1930: Richard Garrett, Picton Rd., Hakin.

Leslie Jones (Clerk in Holy Orders; died 18 Apr 1941.)

Managing owner: Hermann Westenborg, 'George & Dragon', Barlow St., Milford.


May 1941: Richard Garrett, Picton Rd., Hakin.

Managing owner: Hermann Westenborg, 'George & Dragon', Barlow St., Milford.


18 Nov 1945: Westenborg Trawlers Ltd., Docks, Milford.  (64/64)

Managing owner: Hermann Westenborg


14 Jan 1954: Nigerian Shipping & Trading Co., 8 Stayee St., Racecourse, Lagos.


Landed at Milford: (LO131) 7 May 1928 - 13 Feb 1930.

(M70) 26 Feb 1930 - 26 Aug 1939; 17 Dec 1945 - 1 Nov 1953.

Skippers: Harry Gue (1930; 1952); Reg High (1936); Matt Owston (1947)


Thomas Leeds, age 22, born Co. Down; O.S., HMS VICTORY, at Trafalgar.

12 Sep 1919: Launched for the Admiralty (Admy. no. 4210), but completed as a fishing vessel, THOMAS LEEDS. Sold to mercantile.

19 Dec 1923: Skipper George Hughes of Fleetwood fined 100 for the illegal use of a otter trawl in the Firth of Clyde.  ["The Times", Thursday 20th December 1923. ]

19 Mar 1928: Aberdeen registry closed.

11 Feb 1930: London registry closed.

27 Aug 1939: Requisitioned for war service and converted for minesweeping duties; 1x12 pdr. (P.No. FY.520).

19 May 1941: Shot down German bomber off the East Coast. [See newspaper report below.]

Nov 1945: Returned to owners.

Nov 1953: Sold to Colonial Development Corporation, London, for transfer to Nigeria.

5 Apr 1954: Sailed Milford for Lagos; Capt James Flett, Aberdeen.

25 Oct 1955: Stranded and abandoned as a total loss near Ten Mile Beacon, west of Lagos.

[Additional information thanks to Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust and The Bosun's Watch.]

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 14 Jan 1954.  Sold to Nigerian owners.

 Accidents and Incidents

Statement by the Master of the steam trawler THOMAS LEEDS, 12th March, 1930:


    Whilst the trawler "Thomas Leeds" of which I am Skipper was fishing at the St.Kilda fishing grounds, in a position approximately forty five miles West by South of St.Kilda, and towing on a South South West course, the steam trawler "Harry Melling" of the port of Fleetwood, towing in a South South East direction passed astern of the "Thomas Leeds" fouling her fishing gear.  While the two ships were heaving in their trawl warps in the process of clearing fishing gear, the steam trawler "Ephrontes" [*] from Fleetwood, FD. 142, apparently not knowing that the two ships' fishing gear were foul, towed between the "Thomas Leeds" and "Harry Melling" and by doing so caused the three ships' fishing gear to be fouled.

    The "Harry Melling" was the first ship to heave the three ships' gears up alongside his starboard side and he was plainly seen by myself and my crew to use a hatchet and deliberately chop the fishing gear of the "Thomas Leeds" away, causing one trawling board, one hundred fathoms of trawl warp, one set of bridles and full trawl to be lost.

    The fouling of the gear was caused by the bad judgment on the part of the Skipper of the "Harry Melling".

                         ( Sgnd) Harry Gue, Skipper of the S/T "Thomas Leeds".



Steel Screw Ketch. 275 grt, 113 nt. Built: 1919, C.Rennoldson & Co, South Shields.

Owners: Mellings Ltd., Fleetwood ]


[ * PHRONTIS, ON 132405.  FD 142

288 grt, 114 nt.  Built: 1911, Cochrane & Cooper, Selby.

Owners: Mount SFC, Fleetwood. ]



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 29th September 1933:




    Catches unprecedented since the war have been made, and 1000 kits a day have been landed on several occasions.  During the last weekend the catches broke records and one trawler, the Thomas Leeds, landed no fewer that 600 kits after a couple of days' fishing.  A number of vessels have returned with good results from a day's or a night's fishing.




From The Western Telegraph of Wednesday 28th October 1936:


    Sadness came to Milford homes last week.  Once more the terrible cost of catching fish in the sacrifice of men's lives was brought home and the bread winners taken away.

    The Steam Trawler "Thomas Leeds" (Owner, H. Westenborg) came into dock on Thursday morning with her red duster flying at half mast.  One of her crew had been lost at sea on the previous night. 

    The victim was Mr William Horton, the Third Hand, a young married man aged thirty four, whose home is 32, Prescelly Place.  He leaves a widow and two young children.  Mrs Horton is the daughter of Mr Arthur Roch.

    Skipper Reggie High told a Telegraph reporter [that] at about ten thirty on Wednesday night, they had commenced their homeward journey with a catch of herrings on the Irish Fishing Grounds.  The crew were engaged in stowing away the fishing gear, Mr Horton amongst them.  The latter was pulling on a rope and over- balanced and fell backwards into the sea.  His pals heard his cry, and Skipper High at once put the vessel full speed astern.  They knew he was a very strong swimmer and they hoped to locate him.  It was however pitch dark and they could not see, but he kept the ship steaming around for a couple of hours, without result.

    Third Hand Horton had been on the ship about six weeks. He leaves a widowed mother in Lowestoft, his father having been blown up in a trawler during the War.



The Times, Wednesday, May 21, 1941; pg. 2; Issue 48931; col E
      News in Brief




    The following Admiralty statement was issued last night:-


    On Monday night a Heinkel 111 was engaged and shot down off the East Coast by H.M. trawlers Tranio (Lieutenant A. L. G. Gillies, R.N.R.), Caswell (Skipper J. W. V. Jobson, R.N.R.), Thomas Leeds (Temporary Skipper R. A. Cook, R.N.R.), and Stella Leonis (Acting Skipper Lieutenant W. Perritt, R.D., R.N.R.).

    The enemy aircraft had previously been under fire and damaged by H.M. Minesweeper Princess Elizabeth (Temporary Lieutenant F. A. Smyth, R.N.R.)  No casualty or damage was sustained by our ships.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 29th September 1947:


    ..........  Take the case of Skipper James Hewitt of the steam trawler Concertator, belonging to the Yolland fleet.  In two days fishing on the Smalls up to yesterday, he caught about 200 kits of herring, but had burst his wrong size nets four times in the process.  Farmers are to be helped in their harvest on the land by getting the right tools for the job, and the fisherman gathering his harvest of the sea should be able to rely on the proper nets for the job.

    Difficulties apart, the first Milford skipper to dock with Smalls herrings is Mr. Matt Owston, who brought the Thomas Leeds in on Thursday evening after a quick trip.  



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.




    Capt. Kettle has done it again!  In 1949 Skipper Bob Kettle was runner-up in the Castle boats; in 1950 he topped the list and his catches in 1951 gave him a winning lead over steady Skipper George Knight, who took the Lephreto into second place for the second year running.  Two captains who have moved up in the "table" are Skippers Gue and Lawrence.

1.  Richard Crofts (Bob Kettle),  Mr. W. Wilcox.

2.  Lephreto (Geo. Knight), Messrs. Jenkerson.

3.  Thomas Leeds (Harry Gue), Mr. H. Westonborg.

4.  Alexander Scott (J. Lawrence); 5, Their Merit (Jeff Tucker); 6, Settsu (Norman Brown); 7, T. Booth (late Skipper R. W. Limbrick); 8. W. Bunce (W. R. Robertson); 9, Milford King (Albert Beckett)[sic]; 10, Sea Hunter (J. McLelland).



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th September 1952:


    The trawler Thomas Leeds (Mr. Herman Westenborg), is at sea again after being laid up for 6 months.  She left on Thursday in charge of Skipper Harry Gue, with Mr. Bertie Phillips as Mate.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 16th October 1953:


    Subject to an inspection in dry dock, the trawler Thomas Leeds has been sold, and will be going abroad to the Aegean, said the owner, Mr. Westenborg.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 9th April 1954:


    Ten Milford fishermen are now on passage from the port to Lagos in the trawler Strathcathro, which sailed on Monday.  Formerly the steam trawler Thomas Leeds, the Strathcathro has undergone an extensive refit carried out by the Milford United Engineering and Trading Company Ltd. 

    Before the ship sailed, the United Secretary, Mr. G. H. Kershole, on behalf of the company, presented a short-wave radio set to the ship, for the use of the crew.  The radio bears a brass plaque giving the name of the company and the port of origin.

    The vessel is commanded by Captain James Flett, Aberdeen, and will join the fleet of the Nigerian Shipping Company at Lagos.  50 local workmen were fully employed for five months on the refit.  It is stated this week that there will be no large-scale pay off now that the work is finished.



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