Lost at Sea

Article courtesy of David Shuttleworth

From newspaper Fleetwood Chronicle date December 1st 1905.
Two Fishermen drowned in Fleetwood trawler tragedy, Mishap in Tobermory Harbour.

The fishing community at Fleetwood has been plunged into mourning, by the drowning of two young seamen, under very sad and distressing circumstances. The news that some casualty had befallen the crew of the local trawler was received at the Wyre port on friday morning,when a telegraphic message arrived from Tobermory, the chief fishing centre, on the Isle of Mull,Scotland, to the effect that…two of the crew of the Fleetwood trawler KITTY, were missing.

Upon the arrival of the trawler, at Fleetwood, about half past eight, on friday evening, the crew reported that two of their comrades – W. Robertson (23), of Radcliffe Road, and J.Shuttleworth (20), of Blakiston Street, both deckhands – had lost their lives on Wednesday night. No one saw the accident, and the cause will forever remain a mystery. From an interview which our representative had with a crew member, it seems that the KITTY, together with several other boats, had put into Tobermory, stormbound, on Wednesday.

Robertson and Shuttleworth, who were quite sober and in the best of spirits, put off in a small boat, with the intention of boarding the trawler CITY OF BRISTOL, another Fleetwood trawler, which was about a hundred yards away, to ask the skipper to come and have tea with the KITTY’S crew. This was about six o’clock in the evening. As the men did not return within a reasonable time, the crew of the KITTY hailed the CITY OF BRISTOL and asked if the men had arrived in the rowing boat, and the reply came that they had not been seen.

The Police and Coastguards were summoned, and together with the crews of the two trawlers, they made a careful search, but no trace of the missing men could be found . It is supposed that the men lost control, of their boat while endeavouring to pull against a strong tide, and being unable to make headway against the current, the craft was dashed on to the rocks. This supposition is borne out by the fact the dingy was found badly damaged, six miles away, and a fisherman’s sou’wester was also picked up the following day. Both men were wearing heavy sea boots, and as the sea was pretty rough, outside the harbour, they would not have had much chance of swimming far. No cries for assistance were heard, on either of the trawlers.

A large crowd assembled to see the KITTY dock on Friday night, and there was a very pathetic scene when Robertson’s sweetheart was told of the sad occurrence. The bereaved families are well- known at Fleetwood, and much sympathy is felt for them. Flags were hoisted half mast at the sailors rest, and on many vessels in the dock and harbour, when the mournful intelligence came to hand. The bodies have not been recovered.

Later particulars…….

Further particulars of the occurrence are given by a Tobermory correspondent who says “During the height of the gale, on Wednesday night, two men, the cook and one of the deckhands,on board the trawler KITTY , went off in a small boat, to visit a sick comrade on another trawler, anchored a short distance away. They had not returned at midnight, to the KITTY , which then blew her whistle repeatedly to recall them. No response was received, and fears were entertained as to their safety.”

On Thursday morning, the intelligence spread that nothing had been seen, of the two men, or the boat, which had probably drifted seawards by the violence of the gale. Search parties have been round the shore of the island of Calvay, and in the vicinity of the Runnagal lighthouse, and the trawler KITTY went off to search the entrance of Loch Stuart.. The general belief is that the men have perished. Two oars and a sou’wester were found by the crew of the trawler.

The Customs officer and the police staff were on board the KITTY , during the search. The Captain and the crew of the KITTY attended the service at the Fielden Sailors Rest on Saturday evening, when special reference was made to this lamentable accident. A memorial service will be held next Sunday evening. The two young men frequented the Bethel, when in port.

Fleetwood Chronicle…29/12/05…….the body was recovered on Sunday of Mr John Shuttleworth, a Fleetwood seaman, who lost his life on the Isle of Mull, Scotland on November 22nd…..