Hulk of a fishing boat abandoned on the Embankment, Laira, Plymouth.
The remains of the Brixham trawler Antelope can been seen alongside the main road in and out of Plymouth, close into the western side of the Laira. Having been abandoned there in the 1960s the Antelope has slowly fallen apart over the years so now only the stem, stern post and lower frames remain.
The Antelope is a sloop class Brixham trawler built at the famous shipyard of R. Jackman Ltd. in Brixham in 1906. First owned by Mr. Richard Elliott of Brixham, she was registered in Brixham and given the port mark BM 128. The crew of four in 1915 were all Brixham men; the skipper was 48 year old Charles Gregory, Richard Soper was the 52 year old 2nd Hand, Harry Gregory the 3rd Hand at 19 years and Harry Cowling was the 16 year old Cook. During the First World War, Antelope became a fishery protection vessel with an auxiliary engine fitted in Plymouth dockyard and a gun mounted on her foredeck. In addition to her usual crew the gun was manned by two naval ratings for the duration of the war.
In 1916 the Antelope was sold to Plymouth fisherman Charles Drake who then mortgaged her for £425 to John Walk, she was registered in Plymouth as PH94. At this time Bill Hill was the mate on board and Charles Drake's son also called Charles was the third hand.
In 1920 Frank Hutchings and Arthur Harvey, a fishmonger and a fishing boat owner from Suffolk, bought the vessel for fishing off the East Anglian coast registering her in Lowestoft with port number LT774.
By 1925 the Antelope was back in Plymouth having again been bought by Charles Drake, operating as PH94. Later that year Drake mortgaged her to the Plymouth Fish Selling Co., for £250. In 1928 the Plymouth Fish Selling Co., sold the Antelope to John 'Jonny' Taylor who mortgaged her back to the Plymouth Fish Selling Co. In 1934 she was in the hands of Plymouth iron merchant Thomas Turner but by this time steam had replaced sail and her fishing days were nearly over.
In 1935, Turner sold the Antelope to John Kellock who converted her from a fishing trawler to a yacht, but a year later Kellock sold her to Horizon Hunters Ltd. in Newton Abbot who fitted an engine to her. The motor was built in 1926 by The Gas Plant of New York, U.S.A. It was a 4-cylinder motor; each cylinder was 5” with a stroke of 7”. 40 h.p. and a top speed of 4½ knots. In 1938 Horizon Hunters sold the vessel to hotel owner John Kellock.
It is not known if the Antelope was used for war service during WWII.
In 1946 the Antelope changed hands many times; Kellock sold to Donald Taylor who sold her to William Rushby and he sold her to David Harrison of Cremyll. In 1952, Harrison had the ‘Antelope converted to a houseboat and had her moored in Mashfords boatyard.
Sometime after this the Antelope was bought by Arthur Blagdon at a time when everything was in short supply after the war. Blagdon stripped Antelope of her fittings and the easily removable timbers then abandoned her on the mud alongside the railway line. She was initially afloat on a high tide but eventually was bilged and settled into the mud. The significance of this rare surviving example of the famous class of trawler was noted in a letter by Martin Langley to a newspaper in 1979 where the historian complained about someone stripping the hull for firewood and how the ship should be left alone. Antelope is recorded in the 1988 book Langley wrote with Edwina Small, 'Lost Ships of the West Country', which catalogues most of the hulks in the area.
Antelope is the last at least partial survivor of the once large fleet of Plymouth sailing trawlers. In 1996, the remains of the ship were investigated and recorded by a team from the Nautical Archaeology Society, south-west branch, led by Jon Parlour and Paul Dart.
The Antelope is intact at keel level from stem to rudder, upright and lies with her bow to the north.
The remains of the vessel include the keel, stem, sternpost, partial rudder, floor timbers, some ceiling and outer planking.
Identified by Ian Merry. This was one of the vessels recorded in the book Lost Ships of the Westcountry by Langley & Small.
This vessel is a Brixham trawler similar to the mule class Brixham trawler Wendew hulked in Hooe Lake and constructed by the same shipbuilder, Robert Jackman & Sons.
Embankment, Laira, Plymouth
The hulk can be seen from A374 Plymouth Road but the main railway line into Plymouth lies between the road and the ship so photography is difficult. Access can be achieved by walking alongside the river - park in layby on the Embankment Road, climb down the bank and walk up to the ship. The mud alongside the ship is up to 30cm deep in places so wearing waders or wetsuit boots is advised.
Position OS: SX 51256 56016
Position GPS: 50.385059, -4.093503
Show the site on Google Maps
R. Jackman Ltd., Brixham
Timber, carvel, transom stern, ketch rigged
Sail, ketch rigged, auxiliary motor
49.97 GRT, 39 until 1916 then 23 net
BM128, PH94, LT774
C. John Cotton:
"After reading ‘The Westcotts & their Times’ by Ian D. Merry about the wreck of the ‘Bertie’, but not looking to read where it was. I went out to the dismasted hulk lying off the Laira Embankment, and took some photos of her thinking that she was the ‘Bertie’. Back home I reread the Westcotts book and discovered that I had taken a picture of the wrong hulk. So what was this one along Laira Embankment? My mind went a blank. How do you find out about this sort of thing? As this being the first, of my many hulk histories. I don’t know where to start or look?
The first place I tried was the Central Library, in the Navel Section. I asked the librarian if he knew about the hulk along Embankment Road? ‘Yea’ he said. Ah – this is easy, I thought. ‘Well – do you know what it’s called? ‘No, I’m afraid I don’t, but if you can find out her name, please let us know.’ I felt like a deflated balloon. But he did suggest the Queens Harbour Master. That very afternoon I phoned the Naval Base and spoke to the Harbour Master. He too said that he knew of the hulk but afraid it was just out of his area, and he didn’t know the name of it. But, as the librarian said, if I did find anything about her, please let him know. I was getting a bit frustrated now. The more I couldn’t find the name, the more I was determined to find out.
Later on I phoned up Ian Merry about the hulk. After looking up some of his old notes he phoned me back and said that she was called the ‘Antelope’. That is all he could tell me. That was all I needed. I was very happy now – now that I could put a name to this old dismasted wooden hulk. But then I started to think of how did she get there? When was she built? And where? The best place that I could think of for this information would be the Customs & Excise offices in Plymouth to see if she was registered there. As luck would have it, she was."
18 April 2020
The Antelope was bought and stripped by Arthur Blagdon.
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