UNICITY R22

 

Courtesy of Kenneth Goldspink and Robert Kelly

Official No:  146047    Port and Year: Lowestoft, 1921 (LT734 )  

                                                                 Ramsgate, 1926        

Description: Admiralty Steel Drifter; side trawler; coal fired. Ketch rigged. Pareja (pair) fishing.

Crew:  9 men.

Built: by J. W. Brooks & Co., Lowestoft; in 1919.  (Yard no. ?)

Tonnage:  96 grt  41 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 86.2 / 18.5 / 9.3

Engine: T.3-Cyl; 43 rhp; by W.Beardmore & Co., Glasgow.

Owners:

 

As BUBBLE LT734

14 Sep 1921: John Mitchell, 'Highfield', The Avenue, Lowestoft.

Managing owner.

 

17 Oct 1926: George H. Russell, 'Lansdown House', Hamilton Tce., Milford.

Managing owner.

28 Sep 1926: As UNICITY R22.

 

9 Dec 1929: George H. Russell & Robert William Hancock III, The Docks, Milford.

[*See statement of 22nd Oct 1931 below.]

 

27 Apr 1939: Tilbrook Trawlers Ltd., The Docks, Milford.

Manager: James L. Cobb, 'Frampton', North Rd., Milford.

 

Landed at Milford: 14 Oct 1926 - 2 Dec 1939

Skippers: Charles Edward Ellis (1931); Robert Goldspink (1936); Harold Soanes (1936)

Notes: 

30 Oct 1919: Completed for the Admiralty (no.4145) as BUBBLE.

2 Dec 1919: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Dec 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty as UNICITY and converted to a minesweeper.

31 Jan 1942: Capsized and sank while sweeping off Blythe.  (Three crew members recorded on Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial.)

Oct 1943: Raised and broken up.

[Information kindly supplied by Michael Hunt, Curator, Ramsgate Maritime Museum.]

Accidents and Incidents

UNICITY and UBERTY - Transcription of statements taken on 22nd October 1931: 

 

                                                                                                 STATEMENT OF JOHN JAMES WALTER DUFFIELD AND CHARLES EDWARD ELLIS,

                   SKIPPERS OF THE STEAM TRAWLERS UBERTY  (R.219) and UNICITY (R.22) RESPECTIVELY.

 

    About noon on Monday the 5th October 1931, the "Uberty", having Hartland Point bearing south west by west, half west, distant five miles, and the "Unicity" having Hartland Point bearing in the same direction distant six miles, was spoken to by the occupants of a motor boat, who enquired as to whether the "Uberty" had caught any conger eels.  A reply in the negative was given and the boat then moved away towards the "Unicity" but did not speak to those on board of her.  Neither of the two trawlers was on that occasion within what is understood by us to be the bye-law limit.

    At about midnight of the 9th and 10th October 1931 , when both vessels had Hartland Point Light bearing west half north, distant about five miles, we were hailed by an unknown craft with no lights up. I am the skipper of the "Uberty",  and was informed by someone on the craft representing himself to be the fishery officer that I would be reported for fishing inside the bye-law limit and for having no lights up, both of which I admit, and I was also ordered to proceed outside the limit line, which I did as soon as possible.

     I, the skipper of the "Unicity"  was informed by someone on the same craft, representing himself to be the fishery officer, that I would be reported on the same charges as the "Uberty".  I replied the same as the skipper of the "Uberty".  We had both proceeded from different directions to Barnstaple Bay owing to stress of weather, and with a view to anchoring there under the shelter of Hartland Point, the wind at the time blowing from the south west, a whole gale and it was only after we had proceeded inside the bay that we decided to shoot our trawls.

     We live on our respective vessels which belong to Russell and Hancock Trawler Owners, The Docks, Milford Haven.

 

Sgn  J. J. W. Duffield

Sgn C. E. Ellis.

 

[ Both vessels were fined a total of 10. ]

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

UNICITY and TURNERSONS - Transcription of statement by Cyril Robert Goldspink, taken in November 1936: 

 

        I have been skipper of the "Unicity" for about six weeks.

        We left Milford on the 31st of October for the fishing grounds off Lundy.  We had 24 hours fishing from the Sunday evening to the Monday evening.  Then we went to anchor owing to a gale of wind.  We went to anchor under Lundy Island.  We were anchored for 24 hours and then went out fishing for 48 hours. We then went to anchor again and remained at anchor until the Saturday morning, when we saw the "Turnersons".  We saw her just as we were lifting our anchor to proceed fishing again. It was pretty fine on Saturday morning.  Our normal fishing voyage is 6 to 7 days. We had intended on the Saturday morning to fish for about another 12 hours before leaving for Milford. I reckoned to be at Milford Haven by Sunday morning tide.  Two tons is good for the time we had been fishing and I reckoned that by the time we had done another 12 hours I should have had a decent quantity of fish on board, enough to make a fine trip of it. We can usually depend on getting fishing at this particular spot without the necessity of doing much searching for the fish. That is what we expect between the end of October and the end of December.

       We were just leaving our shelter when I saw the "Turnersons " about 2 miles East North East of us.  The distress signal appeared at 2 miles to be a square black flag and a ball underneath the flag.  When we got alongside it was a red ensign and a basket. As soon as we had weighed our anchor we made for the "Turnersons". We took about 20 minutes to reach her. On reaching the "Turnersons" I shouted out to her, "Is there anything wrong skipper?"  He made answer, "I can get no steam. Will you take me to Swansea?" 

        If I had started at once I should have had to fight against the ebb tide for about 4 hours.  On the tide turning I should then have found myself off  Swansea about 3 hours before high water. I should not have been able to enter Swansea Docks and would have had to remain outside for about 3 hours with a lee shore and strong south west wind. In addition, the "Turnersons" would have been straining against wind and tide, both of which would have been carrying us towards the shore. I accordingly decided to remain for a time off Lundy until the tide turned and I would then be taken on the tide to Swansea and would have been able to enter Swansea direct.

        I therefore remained at Lundy until 11am. We anchored alongside the "Turnersons".  The "Turnersons" was at anchor when we reached her.  I do not know how long the "Turnersons" had been there.  She was holding all right with the wind as it was. (There is no such thing as a safe anchorage at Lundy.  There is good holding ground. If the wind is westerly it is quite safe on certain sides of Lundy)The "Turnersons" was anchored at the position marked with a "T" on the Chart.  At that time having regard to the south westerly wind he was perfectly safe..

         At the "Turnersons" anchorage there was a ground swell from the south west.  When we got under way we found a heavy north western swell crossing the Bay. The wind was squally and half a gale and raining during the squalls. There were two Swansea trawlers and 13 big cargo boats at anchor on the east side of Lundy.  We were the first to see him and he gave no whistle signals nor flares. We could hear a whistle at 2 miles. We were anchored 2 cables lengths away from him. We took the "Turnersons" warp aboard.  He refused to use ours.  (After we reached Swansea the skipper told me he had burned his fishing boards and other fittings in order to try to keep up steam to get to Lundy).  He took 10 hours to do 20 miles in getting to Lundy.  We steamed up close to the "Turnersons" and heaved our heaving line aboard and we pulled his warp aboard. There was a certain amount of risk in getting close up alongside the other vessel.

        We had a straight tow to Swansea.  The warp did not part.  I nursed my ship.  The "Turnersons" is twice as heavy a ship as  we are.  At about 2 p.m., the wind changed from south westerly to north westerly.  That would be a broadside wind to us causing a heavy ground swell.  The approach to Swansea is quite all right. I took her straight into Dock. That would be Saturday night ,7.30 o'clock.  We sold our catch on Monday morning and realized 180 gross. We victualled up for another trip at Swansea.  We left Swansea at 8 p.m. on the Tuesday. If we had come into Milford we should have got off to sea again on Tuesday morning.  The additional 12 hours delay was on account of our inability to get coal at Swansea.  There was coal available in Milford.

      The "Turnersons" had approached Lundy from a south westerly direction.  At daybreak the other vessels were nearer the "Turnersons" than we were.  The "Turnersons" was a Plymouth ship.

      We reached the fishing grounds again at 3 a.m. on the Wednesday.  The wind decreased as we came across to Swansea.  The strain on the bollards and rails as a result of the towing of the heavy vessel has caused our vessel to leak aft.  The "Turnersons" had evidently allowed his ship to run before the wind to Lundy and got shelter there..

 

"UNICITY" valued at 4,500.  Value of fish on board -- 180.

 

 

Transcription of statement by Christopher William Nelson, taken in November 1936: 

 

    CHRISTOPHER WILLIAM NELSON, Master of the Ship "Turnersons" being duly sworn, deposes as follows; namely

        That on Friday the 5th day of November last, at 8am, the tide at the time being flood the weather hazy and the wind in the S.S.W blowing strong with a heavy sea from the S.S.W , the said Ship almost stopped.  I went down to the Chief Engineer to enquire why he could not raise steam.  He said he could not burn the coal.  I let the ship lay all day to see if the wind would change favourably to allow the vessel to proceed towards the Longships.  In the meantime I examined the coal myself and saw it was impossible to get steam sufficient to proceed against the high wind and sea.

        After laying until about 6p.m., weather getting worse, I thought it was best to get the ship before the wind towards Lundy.  We anchored in Lundy Roads at 5.30 next morning (6th November).  About 8 a.m. seeing it was impossible to keep steam I called the attention of the trawler drifter "Unicity" by flying a red ensign over a pellet and blowing a steam whistle (one blast). He, the Master of "Unicity" immediately lifted his anchor and came and spoke to me.  He asked what was wrong and I asked him if he could tow me to Swansea.  He said he would, but as it was not necessary to start at once against an ebb tide, he said he would wait for the flood.  I agreed and he anchored near. In my opinion he did not have a warp fit to tow, so I gave him ours. We left Lundy Roads at noon (approx), arriving at Swansea at 8.30 p.m. Saturday the 6th November.

 

Transcription of statement by Albert Edward Aldred, taken in November 1936: 

 

ALBERT EDWARD ALDRED, Chief Engineer of the ship "TURNERSONS" being duly sworn; deposes as follows, namely.

 

    That the said Ship was bound for fishing grounds off Lundy.

    That the said Ship proceeded on the said intended voyage as above stated.  After fishing for about 36 hours the weather became too rough to continue fishing. About this time I informed the Captain that the good coal was getting very short and that it would be impossible to maintain steam with the inferior coal that was left. We then made passage for Plymouth with a strong head wind and the sea against us, making very slow progress.

    That on Friday the 5th day of November at 8 a.m., the tide at the time being flood, the weather hazy and the wind in the S.S.W  blowing strong with a heavy sea from the S.S.W and the ship stopped.  We lay until 5 p.m. the same day.  We then turned to endeavour to get the ship to Lundy Roads and in order to make steam we used all available wood on the vessel, including pound boards and bobbins.  We reached Lundy Roads about 4.30 a.m. Saturday 6th November and dropped anchor.  The captain hoisted a signal, description not known to me and blew the siren once to attract attention.  The "UNICITY" came alongside and someone on "UNICITY" spoke to our captain.  We lay until 11 a.m. when "UNICITY" took us in tow and we reached Swansea about 7.30 p.m. on Saturday 6th November.

 

Steam trawler TURNERSONS, Off No 132767, built 1890, 57 tons net. ]

 

 

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