Before conversion to diesel (see below)

John Stevenson Collection

Official No:  149229   Port and Year:   Lowestoft, 1929 (LT737)   

Description: Steel side trawler; coal fired. 


Built: by J. Chambers, Oulton Broad, Lowestoft; in 1930.  (Yard no. 579)

Tonnage:   138 grt  59 net 

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 98.0 / 20.6 / 10.4 

Engine:  T.3-Cyl; 50 nhp; by Crabtree & Co., Yarmouth.

1957: Re-engined with a 2 stroke 6-cyl 280bhp oil engine by Crossley Bros. Ltd, Manchester.



21 Mar 1930: Edward Catchpole*, 'Grassholm', Kessingland, Suffolk; & Baxter & Co., Lowestoft.

*Managing owner.


1945: Pevensey Castle Ltd., Lowestoft.

Manager: R.H. Self.


1953: W. H. Kerr (Ships' Chandlers), Docks, Milford.

Manager: William H. Kerr.


May 1973: Boston Deep Sea Fisheries Ltd., Hull.

Manager: William H. Kerr.


1974: Brigg Trawling Co. Ltd., Docks, Milford.


Landed at Milford:

(Seasonal) 9 Apr - 21 Sep 1930; 5 Feb - 3 Sep 1931; 14 Feb - 9 Apr, 29 Sep 1937; 20 Feb - 23 Mar, 26 May, 30 Sep 1938; 19 Feb - 4 Apr 1939.

(Regular) 12 Feb 1932 - 12 May 1936; 5 Jan 1953 - 3 Aug 1959; 5 Jan 1961 - c. Dec 1975.

Skippers: Noel Bray (1954); Sid Durrant (1957); Frank Reynolds (1973)


2 Jul 1937: Skipper Russell James Gower of Lowestoft was charged in Dublin Police Court with illegally fishing off the Wicklow coast. Fined 100, and all fish and fishing gear were forfeited. [The Times, Monday, 5th July 1937.]
15 Nov 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a minesweeper (P.No. FY.947).

Jun 1940: Based at Dover.

20-26 May 1940: Evacuation from Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk.

1941: Fitted out as LL drifter minesweeper, to deal with magnetic mines.

Jun 1943: Miscellaneous Naval duties.

Dec 1946: Returned to owners.

May 1970: Laid up with the intention to have her broken up. (See newspaper report.)

Feb 1973: Landed a torpedo in her net. (See newspaper report.)

23 Mar 1976: Sailed to be broken up at Briton Ferry.

[Information supplied by the Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust, and the Bosun's Watch website.]

Note by Les Jones: "Known as the cigarette vessel, as she blew perfect smoke rings from her funnel."

Accidents and Incidents

L to R, back row: Deckhand Allan Blowers (Lowestoft), Bosun Sydney Durrant (Glebelands, Hakin), Deckhands Billy Kingston (Westfield House, Steynton) and Michael Collins (139 Charles St., Milford)

Front row: Cook Eric Belcher, Mate Hubert Griffiths (Hazel House, Llanstadwell), Skipper Noel Bray, 2nd Eng. J.R. Evans (13 Milton Crescent, Milford), Ch.Eng. Paddy Durkin (184 Robert Street, Milford)

Taken for the West Wales Guardian of Friday 10th September 1954

John Stevenson Collection



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


    Skipper Noel Bray and his Willing Boys crew left Milford by train on Tuesday for Lowestoft, where they will take over Mr. W. H. Kerr's new diesel trawler Diadem, which has been fishing off the east Coast for about six months.  They will fish a trip on the way back to Milford.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 3rd May 1957:  


    The drifter-trawler Latania, belonging to Mr. Fred Ingram, which has been at Lowestoft since last July undergoing conversion from steam to diesel, landed on Wednesday after fishing a trip round from the East Coast.  She was in charge of Skipper Noel Delph, who was loud in praise of the new engines.

    Willing Boys (Mr. W. H. Kerr) left for Lowestoft in charge of Skipper Sid Durrant.  These conversions will bring up to five the number of diesel trawlers at the port, and all five are in the Kerr and Ingram fleets.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 30th August 1957: 


    The drifter trawler Willing Boys (Messrs. W.H. Kerr & Co.) sails from Lowestoft this weekend after being converted from coal burning to diesel.  In charge of Skipper Sid Durrant and a Milford crew, she will do a fishing trip round to Milford.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 13th September 1957: 


    When Skipper Sid Durrant and his happy crew docked last weekend in the drifter-trawler Willing Boys they reported, "She's a beautiful ship."

    For some months the drifter, belonging to William H. Kerr, has been lying in Lowestoft undergoing conversion from steam to diesel, and a practically new modern ship is the result.  Not only has the ship been re-engined, but the superstructure has been considerably altered.  The changes have given the vessel a "new pin" engine room, more spacious crew quarters, and excellent handling qualities.

    Mr. Kerr's firm has two other diesel ships, the Diadem and Feaco, and they also manage a third oil-burner, the Picton Sea Lion.  In addition, another drifter, the Lord Keith, is undergoing conversion to diesel in a Lowestoft shipyard.


After conversion  (see also below)

John Stevenson Collection


From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 15th November 1957:


    The drifter-trawler Willing Boys (W. H. Kerr) returned to port on Sunday to land Skipper Sid Durrant, whose father was killed in a motor cycle accident in Ramsgate on Saturday.  Mr. Durrant had sailed out of Milford for some years as a chief engineer in the Ramsgate drifters, but had worked ashore for the last few years.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 7th August 1959:


    The diesel drifter trawler Willing Boys left Milford Haven on Thursday for Lowestoft, to fish out of the East Coast port.  Her owners, Messrs. W. H. Kerr and Co., confirmed that the ship was being taken around to Lowestoft in charge of Skipper Joe Utting and a skeleton Milford crew, but would not make any comment on the reason for her departure.  The Secretary of the Trawler Owners' Association, Mr. Harold Rossant, told the "Guardian" that he had not been informed why the Willing Boys was leaving the port.  "It is true that the situation is very tight at the moment and that we have to look for men every day to get the ships to sea, but so far no ships have failed to sail since the crew shortage."



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 6th January 1961:


    Two drifter trawlers which left Milford some months ago to fish out of Lowestoft returned here on Wednesday to join Messrs. Kerr's fleet.  They would probably have sailed again at the weekend, this time with Milford crews, but unluckily they were in collision on arrival and their return to sea has been delayed.

    The Willing Boys was put up on the slip on Thursday afternoon with a damaged stem, while the Feaco will have to have plate damage attended to.  When the drifters are ready they will be taken out by Skipper Sid Durrant (Willing Boys), and Skipper Hubert Griffiths (Feaco), with Messrs. H. Gander and W.F. Reynolds as their respective mates.




With turtle back foc'sle

Thanks to Mike Crutchley


From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 24th April 1970:


    Two popular Milford brothers, both mates on our local trawlers, were put ashore ill this week.  Mr. Billy Hawkins, Picton Close, Hakin, was landed at Milford from the Norrard Star, and Mr. Tommy L. Hawkins was put ashore from the Willing Boys.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 22nd May 1970:


    The Willing Boys is to be tied up and then sold for scrap.  She was built in 1930, and after the last was was converted from coal burning to oil.  A spokesman for the firm stated that they hope to replace her.



From a local newspaper of February 1973:


    A torpedo warhead landed by a Milford trawler was found on Thursday to contain 50lbs of TNT, and was said to be highly dangerous.

    The warhead was trawled up by the "Willing Boys", in charge of skipper Frank Reynolds, whilst fishing off the Devon coast.  Following telephone instructions from the authorities, the Dock Police on Wednesday supervised the removal of the bomb ashore, where it was buried in sand behind Messrs. Kerr's offices.  Royal Naval experts flew in by helicopter from Plymouth, examined the warhead, which was found to contain over 50lbs. of TNT, and pronounced it to be highly dangerous.  The Royal Navy disposal team's special Land Rover followed by road, and on Thursday morning escorted by police motor cyclists, it transported the missile from the docks to the Castlemartin Range, where it was safely detonated.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 16th February 1973:


    The Milford Haven trawler "Willing Boys" was arrested by an Irish gunboat on Thursday for allegedly poaching in Irish territorial waters.  The trawler, in command of Skipper Frank Reynolds, was escorted into Dunmore, where the skipper was due to appear in court.  She is the first trawler from Milford to be arrested for many years.   



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 23rd February 1973:


    A Milford Haven skipper was fined 210 in Dublin on Friday for fishing in Irish territorial waters. 

    Frank Reynolds, age 46, of Richard John Road, told Waterford court he was surprised when the fishery protection vessel Dierdre came alongside his vessel, the Willing Boys.

    "I thought the crew wanted a bit of fish," said Reynolds, who denied the charge.

    He was convicted of fishing inside territorial waters, and having no ship's papers, off the Wexford coast.  Fishing gear and 60 boxes of whiting valued at 1,500 were confiscated.  Recognizances of 2,000 were fixed in the event of an appeal.




From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 1st June 1973:



    With the retirement from trawler owning of Mr. William H. Kerr, O.B.E., after 50 years in the industry, the well-known company of W. H. Kerr Ltd, has been taken over by the Boston Deep Sea Fisheries Ltd., of Hull.


    Founded by its principal in 1932, the firm at one time owned 14 trawlers but now have only four, the Deelux, Willing Boys, Dicketa and Deeside.  The two last named were specially built for Milford but are now fishing for the firm out of Lowestoft.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 31st May 1974:


    Shock news for the industry, already reeling under soaring running costs, is that Boston Deep Sea Fisheries, one of Britain's largest trawler firms, is pulling out of Milford this week.  This is just one year after announcing a complete involvement in the fishing industry at the port.

    Mr. Hugh Kerr, Boston's local manager, confirmed to the Guardian on Thursday that the last two trawlers operated by the firm at Milford have been sold to private local buyers.  They are the Willing Boys and the Deelux, which will continue to sail out of Milford under private ownership.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 22nd November 1974:


    Mr. George Tripp, Nubian Crescent, Hakin, mate of the trawler "Willing Boys", was flown home from Ireland this week after injuring his ribs on board his ship in an Irish port, early on Wednesday morning.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 26th March 1976:


    Tuesday's tide at Milford saw the departure of the drifter-trawler "Willing Boys", bound for the scrap yard at Briton Ferry.  The vessel has been based at Milford from 1945, under the management of Messrs. W. H. Kerr, having originally arrived in the port in 1932.  She fished her last trip at the end of the year, and has since been laid up in the docks.



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