Photo Gallery: Eight things you didn’t know about Lowestoft Fishing Vessels
The crews of Lowestoft fishing fleet have displayed great courage, bravery and seamanship, to bring home their catches in the unpredictable North Sea and beyond – all risking their lives in the process. However a new book, written by Malcolm White, will help ensure that the efforts of those who lost their lives at sea will not be forgotten.
A new book, Lowestoft Fishing Vessels Remembered: Wrecked – Sunk and Missing Vessels of the Lowestoft Fleet 1939 to 1991, mainly focuses on all of the boats involved in fatal accidents 1945 to 1991, as well as covering vessel casualties between 1939 and 1945.
Here are eight things you may not have known about Lowestoft’s fishing vessel tragedies:
1) One of the first boats featured is the steam trawler Bucentaur, which was lost at sea with her 10-strong crew, including skipper William James Beresford, of Southwell Road, Lowestoft. She sank after a collision with an American ship in May 1947 off the Norfolk coast, with one young Lowestoft fisherman, D P Carr, luckily escaping as the trainee deckhand had transferred from the Bucentaur to another trawler at the last moment.
2) In the 1950s, 10 Lowestoft vessels were lost at sea, with 36 crewmen losing their lives. One of those boats, was the motor drifter/trawler Gypsy Queen which went down with seven men on board in January 1955 during a severe gale off Denmark.
3) Two months later, Lowestoft faced another tragedy when the stream drifter/trawler Playmates and her 11 crew were lost while mackerel fishing from Newlyn in Cornwall. The only trace of the Playmates found was her small boat, thus concluding that she had been overwhelmed by the sea in strong winds.
4) Another boat lost in the 1950s was the Susan M. She was presumed destroyed by a mine off Great Yarmouth in November 1957, leading to the loss of her 7 crew. A report on the sinking says: “The mine probably caught one of its horns either in the trawl warp or it hit the hull of the vessel and exploded.”
5) The 1960s were almost as costly, with 8 Lowestoft trawlers lost. The Boston Pionair was lost at sea in February 1965 with her crew of 9 after she headed for Horn Reef and Dogger Bank. A court of inquiry concluded that the boat was probably destroyed by a single large wave or a succession of waves in severe weather conditions. In a sign of how tight-knit Lowestoft’s fishing community was, the Boston Pionair’s sister ship the Boston Pegasus paid an emotional tribute by taking out 150 wreaths to the last known position of the sunken vessel.
6) In December 1977, the Boston Sea Ranger sank off Land’s End with five crewmen. while she was mackerel fishing. One of her crew, third hand Raymond Palmer, from Southwold, was awarded the Royal Humane Society bronze medal for bravery after he gave his lifejacket to the vessel’s cook Tony Smith.
7) Other incidents recall the beaching of the Bahama at Aldeburgh in 1986, the loss of the St Mark in 1990 after a collision off the north Norfolk coast, and the dramatic rescue operation launched in 1991 when the St Martin sank in the North Sea. Her crew was plucked to safety by an RAF helicopter.
8) Weather conditions at the time were described as “extremely severe and almost unprecedented” with the wind gusting up to force 12. Eleven crewmen lost their lives, including 16-year Anthony Folkard who was making his first trip as a deckie learner on the former minesweeper.
To view some of the ships lost, click on the image gallery in the top, right hand corner of the page.
• Lowestoft Fishing Vessels Remembered by Malcolm White is published by Coastal Publications and costs £12.95. The book is available locally from Waterstones, WH Smith, Panda Books and Olympic Print. It can also be ordered online at www.coastalpublications.co.uk