John Addison summarises a succession of anchor-seiners built at Buckie boatyards, Herd & Mackenzie, Jones, and Thomsons, between 1949 and 1976
Traditional Danish-style anchor-seiners regularly worked out of Buckie harbour when fishing in the Moray Firth between October and March each year, before returning to the Dogger Bank for the summer months, when more favourable weather conditions could be expected.
Fishing in relatively close proximity to Buckie in the winter months regularly led to anchor-seiner skippers berthing their vessels at the Moray harbour between trips and when the boats were tied up over Christmas.
As a result of this well-established practice, the three Buckie boatyards, Herd and Mackenzie, Jones, and Thomsons, often carried out routine maintenance and repair work on anchor-seiners. This enabled boatyard personnel to form good work relationships with anchor skippers, at the same time as building up their practical knowledge of this class of boat.
Almost inevitably, the developing bonds between boatyards and skippers led to some of the numerous companies in Grimsby, Hull and Fleetwood that owned anchor-seiners starting to enquire about the possibility of Buckie yards building this particular style of boat, which until this time had almost exclusively been built in Denmark.
Records indicate that the first anchor-seiner to be built at Buckie, the 58ft x 17ft x 8ft Albyn BCK 7, was completed by Jones for W Smith of Cleethorpes in 1949. Powered by an 88hp Kelvin engine, Albyn was re-registered GY 62 by the same owner the following year.
Jones also completed the 58ft Optimistic INS 315 in 1949. Later registered H 417, E 45, FY 117 and MT 43, this boat sank SE of Aberdeen in 1992.
1950 saw Jones deliver two further anchor-seiners, Three Lads GY 137 and Liberdade GY 105, for Cleethorpes owners. Again featuring 58ft full-bodied hulls, these boats were powered by Kelvin 132hp and Blackstone 120hp engines respectively.
G Thompson & Sons also completed their first anchor-seiner, built on similar lines to a typical Scottish style of vessel for this period, Thompaul WA 10, in 1950. In the same year, Thomsons also launched the 54ft Alant WA 12, which featured a Danish-style hull for Whitehaven owners.
Susitna GY 113, Herd & Mackenzie’s first anchor-seiner, was built at their Peterhead boatyard in 1954, from where a further 15 vessels were slid down the slipway over the next six years (‘Anchor seiners built by Herd & Mackenzie at Peterhead’, Fishing News, 25 February).
In 1955, Thomsons built the 52ft Niels Risager WA 47, the first of four anchor-seiners for Whitehaven owner NK Thomsen; the others being the similar-sized Yvonne Y Risager WA 48, the 60ft Annie Risager WA 49, and the 65ft Helga Risager WA 45.
J Ward & Sons of Fleetwood also placed an order for three anchor-seiners launched in 1955-1956 with names ending in ‘ards’ – Westards BCK 31, Northards FD 71 and Eastards FD 72.
The successful performance of these vessels, designed to fish the Irish Sea grounds, which also included the 51ft Charles Bojer FD 94, led to Thomsons building six anchor-seiners for St Andrews Steam Fishing Company Ltd of Hull in a three-year period from 1956 – Aalborg H 27, Nyborg H 29, Skanderborg H 64, Svendborg H 66, Taarnborg H 92 and Frederiksborg H 93.
After building Albyn, Three Lads and Liberdale in 1949-1950, nine years passed by before Jones launched its next anchor-seiner, Conmoran BCK 92. Powered by a 152hp Gardner engine, the 66ft Conmoran was built for Alan and Norrie Morse of North Shields.
Thirteen years later, Jones delivered a new style of anchor-seiner in the form of the 65ft Frances Bojen BCK 51, for Grimsby skipper Jens Bojen in 1972. This boat, together with the similar-sized Margrethe Bojen BCK 111 and Jean Scott BCK 112 (built at Jones’ yard at Lossiemouth) built for Grimsby owners in 1976, were successfully converted to pair-trawling, with all three boats powered by 230hp Gardner main engines.
These builds heralded the end of an era for Buckie, during which the three local boatyards delivered 44 anchor-seiners.
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