The remains of the westcountry schooner John Sims can be found alongside the jetty in Hooe Lake.
In their book on westcountry hulks, Langley and Small mark the location of a 'Dutch barge' called the Two Brothers alongside the stone jetty on the north side of Hooe Lake, but nothing further is mentioned in the text. However in a letter to John Cotton from 1983, Martin Langley identifies this ship as the schooner John Sims.
The schooner John Sims was built in Falmouth by H S Trethowan for the Sims family of Calstock and Gunnislake in 1873 and registered in Plymouth at 98 tons, ONO 68328. In 1893 the ship was sold to Thomas Stevens of Bursledon near Southampton, then in 1900 she was sold to Richard Foster of Gloucester and she was re-registered at that port. In March 1917, Albert Westcott purchased the vessel, moved her to Plymouth and appointed Bill Stiles as her Master. The registry closed on the ship in 1935 when she was converted to be a timber lighter for the Bayly Timber Company in Plymouth. At some point later on the schooner was abandoned on the east side of the stone jetty in Hooe Lake.
The port side of the bottom of this vessel still lies in the mud alongside the jetty on the North shore of Hooe Lake. The keel is intact from the sternpost, buried just 100mm at the stern and visible on the surface further forward, but part of the bow is missing and the part visible above the mudline has eroded away. The sternpost is still visible to 2m above the keel and the remains of the rudder hang on iron pintles and gudgeons. Some port side frames are still in place but the ones closer to the shore have been removed, while outer planking survives under the mud, through the turn of the bilge and some 300mm of the sides. The surviving keel is 24.3m long which suggests that the boat was approximately 27m / 89ft long when complete and she had a beam of approximately 6m / 20ft. The John Sims had a registered length of 89.9ft and a beam of 21ft which matches the measured dimensions to an appropriate level of accuracy.
The vessel was investigated by The SHIPS Project between 2017 and 2021 and a report on the remaining hull structure can be found in Volume 2 of our book Historic Ships on the Foreshore In and Around Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.
Confusion over hulk names seems to be quite common in Hooe Lake. It is worth mentioning for later researchers that Frederick Moore had a sloop called the Two Brothers which was broken up in 1928, this 15.2m / 50ft long vessel was built in Plymouth in 1788, ONO 13025.
Hooe Lake, Oreston, Plymouth
From Oreston, take the Lower Saltram road off Plymstock Road then turn right into Kingfisher Way. Follow the road down to the lake and there is a car park at the end; the stone jetty is easily visible on the north shore. The foreshore is firm but further out is deep mud so appropriate footwear is needed. The foreshore is accessible when the tide height is less than 3m above chart datum.
Last updated 18 Jan 2023
Position OS: SX 50179 53019
Position GPS: 50.357971, -4.107572
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H S Trethowan, Falmouth
27.4m / 89.9ft
6.4m / 21ft
3m / 10ft
98.26 then 114tons
Abandoned after 1935
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