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Three vessels abandoned on the north shore of Hooe Lake.


Schooner, steamship, Tamar barge


Langley and Small note that three vessels were abandoned on the north shore of Hooe Lake in the 1980s; the schooner Dolphin, the Tamar barge Bertie and an unidentified steamship.

Picture 2 from approximately 1959 shows the unknown steamship lying with her bow towards the foreshore, a steel ammunition barge similar to Laira Bridge 1 SHIPS Link lying parallel to the shore and another vessel on the beach behind the barge. The hulk on the beach behind the barge is approximately the correct size and shape to be the remains of the Tamar barge Bertie. The name or type of the steamship is as yet unknown, but she is approximately 20m long with a beam of 4m, no wheelhouse and carries a single funnel amidships. The remains of the schooner Dolphin reported by Langley and Small are not visible in this photograph.

Picture 3 is from 1963 and by now the unknown steamship has been flattened, the barge has moved and the remains of Bertie (?) and the bottom of at least two other vessels can be seen. Note the stacks of timber stored on the now disused railway spur to the timber yard.

The foreshore where the hulks were abandoned was for many years part of Bayly's timber yard, then it became Boston's boatyard and now it is part of a housing estate. The original northern foreshore of the lake was buried under landfill in 1897 when land was reclaimed to run the L&SWR railway siding into the timber yard.

Tamar Barge Bertie

The Tamar barge Bertie was built in 1883 by David Banks at Queen Anne’s Battery in Sutton Harbour, just over the water from where she was abandoned in Hooe Lake. The small 15 GRT Bertie was just 14m long with a 4m beam and a draught of only 1.4m, carrying a single mast and a typical Tamar barge smack rig. Just four years after she was built the Bertie was sold on to John Thomas Daymond who lived in Wearde Quay and operated a number of barges. Daymond died in 1919 and his sons sold the Bertie two years later to Thomas Veale of Saltash who then sold her on to FJ Moore. Moore operated numerous quarries in Cattedown and also in Hooe Lake, so it was here that Bertie was finally abandoned and left to rot sometime after the register was closed on Bertie in 1928.

Confusingly, this small Tamar barge called Bertie was abandoned in Hooe Lake just a short distance from the Thames barge called Bertie SHIPS Link.

The Steam Tug Alice

Previous researchers have so far not come up with a name for the unidentified steamship, however we believe that it may be the steam tug Alice that was used to tow the lighter Arthur SHIPS Link, see Photographs 4 and 5. Photographs suggest that the steamship in Hooe Lake was approximately 20m long with a beam of 4m, rounded bow and stern, with a small foredeck, no wheelhouse and fitted with a single funnel amidships. The steamship was still intact with her bow pointing to the northern shore in 1959. The steam tug Alice matches this description and as the Arthur was abandoned in Hooe Lake it is possible that her companion tug was abandoned there too.

The Dolphin

On a map in LSOTW Langley and Small show a schooner called Dolphin on the northern foreshore, just to the west of the unknown steamship (possibly Alice) and the small Thames Barge Bertie. Unfortunately no other information is provided and Dolphin is a very common name. A possible candidate for this hulk is the Dolphin of Plymouth, 59 tons, ONO19346, registered in 1853.

In the appraisal of the estate of the late Benjamin Sparrow (1778 to 1857), Cattedown limestone merchant, quarry owner and ship owner, was a barge of 18 tons called the Dolphin. With connections to the quarries around Hooe Lake it is possible that this vessel was abandoned here in the same manner as the Bertie above. The appraisal also mentions a smack of 64 tons called the Two Brothers SHIPS Link, unfortunately neither this or the Dolphin are mentioned in Merry's Shipping and Trade on the River Tamar so more research is needed.


When the Old Wharf housing estate was built in 1996 the north bank was further reinforced, moving the shoreline between 12 and 25m in to the lake, burying more of the foreshore and any evidence of hulks that were beached there. So it is likely that the remains of the Dolphin, Bertie and the steamship now lie under the new houses along The Old Wharf. It is also possible that older vessels lie beneath the landfill deposited when building the railway spur to the timber yard in 1897, see figure below.

Ian Merry noted in The Westcotts and their Times in 1977 that the Tamar barge Bertie had been abandoned in Hooe Lake. These vessels were mentioned in the book Lost Ships of the Westcountry by Langley & Small.

Location and Access

Hooe Lake north shore, Oreston, Plymouth

Take Plymstock Road into Oreston, turn left into Bayly's Road then follow the road round to the left along The Old Wharf. The foreshore can be accessed through any of the footpaths heading towards the lake.

Nearby hulks include the houseboat Roger SHIPS Link, the timber barge Arthur SHIPS Link, the two Harbour Launches SHIPS Link and the Thames barge Bertie SHIPS Link.

Position OS: SX 50253 52962
Position GPS: 50.357478, -4.106499

Show the site on Google Maps SHIPS Link

Information about Bertie

Date Built:



Tamar barge


David Banks and Co., Queen Annes Battery, Plymouth

Official Number:



46.2ft / 14.08m


14.1ft / 4.3m

Depth in Hold

4.7ft / 1.43m


Timber, carvel


Sail, smack rig


15.66 GRT




Between 1928 and 1959

Bayly Bartlett Timber

The Plymouth and Oreston Timber Company yard covered ten acres of the eastern side of the entrance to Hooe Lake, around into the north side of the lake itself with six acres of foreshore, locally known as the 'pickle yard'. Timber would be offloaded in the Cattewater, formed into rafts and towed into the Lake. The Oreston yard was used for treating timber with preservatives or impregnating sleepers and telegraph poles with creosote. In 1957 a merger made the company Bayly Bartlett which operated on the site until 1992.

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