John Stevenson Collection

Official No:  169925   Port and Year: London, 1920 (LO496)

Description: MFV, wooden hull; side trawler; single screw, motor. 


Built: 1944,  East Anglian Constructors (Oulton Broad), as MFV 1557.  (Yard no. -)

Tonnage:  112 grt  56 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 93.2 / 22.3 / 9.8

Engine:  4 Cyl. oil engine; 240 ihp = 9 kts.; by Crossley Bros., Manchester.

1966: 6 cyl; by Ruston & Hornsby




1948: The Hon. Max Aitken, DSO, DFC, 159 Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London W1


c.1960: Wellbottom (Trawlers), Wellbottom Cottage, Givons Grove, Leatherhead.

Manager: Arthur W. H. Longstaff, 39 Talgarth Rd., London W14

1965:  W. H. Kerr & Sons, Milford.


1966: Peter Wright, Milford


Landed at Milford: 25 Jan - 22 Nov 1965; 1 Jan 1967 - 10 Apr 1968

Skippers: George Harding (1967-68)


Jun 1944: Completed for the Admiralty as MFV 1557.  1 x .303" MG.

16 Apr 1968: Sprung a leak off Strumble Head, then sank while under tow for Fishguard.

Accidents and Incidents

From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 1st January 1965:


    A 90ft. drifter-trawler will arrive at Milford Haven tomorrow to join the local fleet.  She is the William Rhodes Moorhouse, which has been fishing out of Lowestoft.  A local crew left the town last night to sail the vessel round, and in Milford she will be managed by W. H. Kerr & Sons, Ltd.



From an unknown local newspaper possibly dated c. 3rd January 1967:


    The 93ft. long wooden drifter trawler William Rhodes Moorhouse has been bought by a young Milford fish merchant, Mr. Peter Wright, who is also a director of the Wright's Frozen Foods business.

    The William Rhodes Moorhouse, which has been laid up at Milford for some time after coming round from Lowestoft, will fish out of Milford.  She was converted to diesel power a few years ago and at the moment is undergoing a major overhaul, and will be ready to sail early in the New Year.

    On board for her first trip will be her new owner, together with a White Fish Authority expert will give advice on boxing fish at sea - a practice new to Milford, although it is used at other British ports.  The aim of this process is to keep the fish in the best possible condition for the market.  Mr. Wright said he was grateful to the White Fish Authority for the help it had given him in his new project. 

    Mr. Wright disagrees with those who say the fishing industry in Milford is finished. 

    "I think it definitely has a future but it needs encouragement and support," he said.  "The extension of the fishing limits is starting to show an improvement in drifter-trawler catches, and I think 1967 could be even better.

    The William Rhodes Moorhouse, which will have a six man local crew working on a share basis and skippered by George Harding, will be using conventional trawling methods in the near water white fish grounds.  Her previous owners, Wellbottom Trawlers, Ltd., Lowestoft, had the 20 year old vessel converted to diesel power five years ago.  Mr. Wright has spent thousands of pounds on modern equipment, refrigerating plant and redesigning the fish hold.  When the vessel sails next Tuesday, she will be completely equipped with over 200 boxes.

    Mr. Wright, who has never been to sea, will sail with her on her first trip to find out the conditions the crew will work under.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 10th March 1967:


    The Milford Haven drifter trawler "William Rhodes Moorhouse" docked on Tuesday with a canister containing 500lbs of TNT lashed to its deck.  The canister had been hauled up in the net during fishing operations and the crew not realising the lethal nature of their catch strapped it to the deck - and carried on fishing!  When on arrival in port it was realised just what it contained the trawler was cordoned off in dock and a mine disposal unit was sent for from Plymouth.  They detonated the canister under water in Dale Roads.  The trawler has now returned to the fishing grounds.



 The Times, Tuesday, Apr 16, 1968; pg. 1; Issue 57227; col E

     News in Brief

Trawler crew rescued

from our correspondent

haverfordwest, april 15

        The six-man crew of the trawler William Rhodes Moorhouse were taken on board the Esso coastal tanker Purfleet tonight after abandoning their vessel six miles off Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire.

        Mr. Peter Wright, of Milford, the owner, said: "I think she must have hit a submerged rock."



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th April 1968:


    After they had jumped for their lives when the trawler William Rhodes Moorhouse suddenly sank whilst on tow early on Tuesday a Milford skipper, 37-year-old George Harding, supported his 64-year-old mate, George ("Tiny") Paul for twenty minutes until they were rescued from the rough, bitterly cold sea by the Fishguard lifeboat.

   The two men, with the trawler's Bo'sun, 38-year-old Billy Drake, had gone back aboard their badly leaking trawler after the crew of six took to a life raft and were picked up by the tanker Esso Purfleet.

    The trawlermen were then transferred to the Fishguard lifeboat and although the trawler's decks were still awash the three volunteers went back aboard in a determined effort to save their ship.

    They nearly succeeded. Fishguard lifeboat took the W.R.Moorhouse in tow and the salvage operation was going very well when, just over a mile from Fishguard, she suddenly went down.

    Bo'sun Drake, who managed to get away in a liferaft, jumped into the water to go to the assistance of the Skipper and Mate who had to leap into the sea when they failed to get into the other life-raft before the ship sank.

    All three were picked up by the Fishguard lifeboat.

    The Skipper and Mate were taken to hospital suffering from shock and exposure but allowed to go home by ambulance later. The crew members were:

Skipper George Harding, 12, Howarth Close, Milford Haven;

Mate Tiny Paul, 2, St. Davids Road, Milford Haven;

Bo'sun Billy Drake,16, Prioryville, Milford Haven;

Chief Engineer. W. F. Panday (26), c/o 6, Vivian Drive, Hakin;

Deckhand Stanley Hansen (40), Beach Road, Llanreath, Pembroke Dock.

Cook Fred Gale (40),6, Vivian Drive, Hakin.



    The 90ft. long, 25-year-old wooden trawler similar to the ex-Milford trawler Heather George in which a family is at present on passage to New Zealand left Milford Haven on Saturday after a fourteen days' thorough overhaul, during which she had been up on the slip.

    She was bound for a ten-day fishing voyage in the Cardigan Bay area.

    Her 40-year-old owner, Milford fish merchant and frozen food director, Mr. Peter Wright, who met the crew as they stepped ashore at Fishguard, afterwards told our reporter of the sea drama which ended with the loss of the ship.

    The survivors themselves slept all day.

    Mr. Wright said he received a report on Monday afternoon that the trawler's winch had broken down and that a Swansea fishing vessel, the Roger Bushell, had gone alongside her in Cardigan Bay to help the Milford vessel to get her trawling gear back on board.



    "The first hint of more serious trouble," said Mr. Wright, "came about 9 a.m. on Monday when the crew found that the trawler was making water and that the pumps could not cope with it.

    "They began using the hand pumps as well but even their combined efforts could not stem the flow of water getting into the ship," he stated.  "The crew did not know where it was coming in.  They put out a May Day radio distress call which was picked up by the tanker Esso Purfleet the 12 miles away.  The tanker immediately made full speed towards the trawler but before she arrived on the scene the W. R. Moorhouse began to settle in the water and the crew took to an inflatable liferaft.  The six trawlermen were in the rubber dinghy for about half an hour before they pulled alongside the tanker and were taken aboard.  Fortunately the sea conditions were quite good.

    "Fishguard lifeboat, which was launched at 10 p.m., took the Milford men off the tanker Purfleet and found that although of the W. R. Moorhouse were awash she was still afloat and it might be possible to get her in tow.  The trawler's Skipper, Mr. Harding, Mate, Mr. Paul and Bo'sun Mr. Drake, then went back aboard the trawler and made fast a tow-line from the Fishguard lifeboat which began to tow the Moorhouse at about two knots.  Radio permission was obtained from the Harbourmaster at Fishguard for the trawler to be beached at Lower Fishguard."



    Mr. Wright continues:  "The tow went very successfully until the vessels were just over a mile from Fishguard harbour and then the trawler went down in three minutes, and the men had to get off in a hurry."




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