There was an interesting time, way back in the early 1950s, when several drifter/trawlers and trawlers from Lowestoft were sent on the long trip to Nova Scotia to ply their trade, reports Mick Harrod.
Above: Skipper William Gowen and the crew of Advisable.
The first Lowestoft boats to make this voyage were Acorn LT 31, skippered by Ivan Down, and Boston Swift LT 377, in September of 1954. Acorn was a steamer, built in 1919 at Aberdeen and the story goes that, although she was filled with coal, including in the fish hold and ice lockers, she still ran out of fuel in the last few miles and was towed in by Boston Swift.
The agreement with Mercury Fisheries Ltd, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was that the crew initially signed on for six months and then, if they liked it enough, they could have permanent berths and their families would get assistance to move to Canada.
The Lowestoft local newspaper, The Journal, reported the first vessels leaving in their issue of September 17, 1954 and their arrival at Newfoundland the following month. Also in October the newspaper reported that Advisable LT 168, another steamer, built in 1930 was the ninth Lowestoft vessel to make the trip after taking on more coal at Newlyn before crossing the Atlantic. Skippered by William Gowen, Advisable was reported to have completed the journey with a few shovelfuls of coal left.
Other Lowestoft boats recorded as going to Canada were Dauntless Star LT 371, Boston Swallow, Boston Spitfire, Boston Mosquito, Boston Hornet and Boston Comet. Some of these trawlers never came back, and later boats were launched and awarded the same names.
Apparently this fishery was not too successful, as it didn’t seem to last for long. The vessels were re-deployed, reportedly with the intervention of the Canadian government. Dauntless Star went trawling under her new name of Red Diamond, and eventually became a refrigerated cargo vessel.
The story I like best is of the Boston Swift LT 377. She was built in Selby in 1948, and began life as Sunlit Waters LT 377. She went to Nova Scotia as Boston Swift in 1954, and when she returned she spent time at Aberdeen as Swiftburn A 143. In 1958, she returned to Lowestoft and was renamed Dauntless Star LT 367, after the original Dauntless Star that didn’t come back.
Incidentally, both the original Dauntless Star and the later Dauntless Star were winners of the prestigious Prunier Trophy, the annual award for the drifter having the biggest catch in one night’s fishing.
Read more news from Fishing News here.