Farewell Topsails documentary

5th April 2016, 22:37
Another find whilst browsing Youtube this evening.
This is a Humphrey Jennings documentary chronicling the last days of the topsail schooners which carried china clay from Charlestown, filmed in 1937.
Some excellent footage and it's all in colour.

See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxKut4lV3Bo

5th April 2016, 22:55
Thanks for the link James - hard working men hard working ships!


5th April 2016, 23:14
Somewhere I have seen footage of a vessel actually sailing into that little harbour, she luffed as they passed the knuckle and was along side, wonderful skills, wish I could find the film

16th April 2016, 11:52
Wonderful film. Charlestown is a beautiful place. Spent a week there two years ago. Quick trip across the lock gates to the pub and watching the kids jump in the harbour. I knew many coasting seamen like those in the film and it brought back lots of good memories. Could see how worn the spokes were on the last schooners wheel. Lots of hands had worn them away. They certainly kept the sailmaker busy, lots of predecessors to Triggers broom. Sad to see it all go.
Never thought at the time our turn would come too.

Stephen J. Card
16th April 2016, 12:47
Brilliant! The last topsail trader around the UK was WATERWITCH. Did a nice painting of her a few years ago. I think I made her look too 'perfect'! Good Old Brown & Fergusson still sell plans of WATERWITCH... drawn by Underhill. Anyhow, here a few more details. I think I need to do another one. Went Charlestown a few years ago. Well worth a day.

Waterwitch – the last British square rigged sailing ship to carry a cargo around the UK coast

Waterwitch was built as a brig by Poole shipwright Thomas Meadus in 1871 and altered to a barquentine in 1885. At 207 tons gross and 112 feet long, with oak frames planked with pitch pine and copper fastened, she was affectionately known as the ‘Portsmouth Workhouse’ by seamen. Aside from one voyage across the Atlantic carrying wheat from Montreal to Ireland, she spent the rest of her life trading in north European waters mainly around the British Isles and France carrying cargoes of coal.

It was whilst fully laden with coal that Waterwitch attempted to enter Newlyn harbour in 1916 during a strong south easterly and struck the bottom. She was badly damaged along her keel and as a result was barely afloat when salvors managed to lift her clear of the fairway. Fowey ship owner, Edward Stephens, purchased the vessel and had her towed to Par in May 1918 where she was rebuilt by Tregaskes. Stephens transferred her to the Fowey register under the command of Captain Charles Deacon of Charlestown, a respected schooner captain with vast experience in south west waters.

British steamship officers wishing to train as pilots had to gain experience in square rigged vessels before Trinity House would allow them into the pilotage service. Deacon had numerous young officers sign on to the crew of the Waterwitch to obtain valuable training under his command. The three-masted ship carried coal cargoes to Falmouth from Runcorn towards the end of her career discharging at the gas works. Waterwitch became the last British square-rigged sailing ship to carry a cargo around the UK coast.

Waterwitch was sold for £300 to four Estonians in 1939, and loaded with china clay in Par bound for the Baltic. She was renamed Veeneid by her Estonian owners and finally sank in a storm in Hara Bay on the north coast of Estonia in the late autumn 1944.

- See more at: http://www.nmmc.co.uk/index.php?/collections/archive/waterwitch_the_last_british_square_rigged_sailing_ ship_to_carry_a_cargo_aro#sthash.dpWQzmSF.dpuf

16th April 2016, 12:52
As a young lad I remember the Result coming into Shoreham with a cargo I must have been in my early teens early 60s