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Art Marine

Newlyn Beamers - John Christian

Newlyn Beamers - John Christian

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The Elizabeth Anne Webster PZ 291 with Marie Claire PZ 295 in the background. 

Like so many other fishing boats of the post-war generation, Elizabeth Anne originated from the Ministry of Defence. A large number of wooden boats were built by the Admiralty, initially for war-time use, but they were also intended for entry into the fishing industry once the war had ended, either to replace boats lost during the war or to regenerate the fishing industry after five years of stagnation.

The 95ft MFV 1570 descended the slipway of her builders, Richards Ironworks of Lowestoft, in 1946, later to embark on a fishing career that was to last just over 70 years.  She was sold by the Admiralty in May 1946 to Torbay Trawlers Ltd of Brixham seemingly without ever entering active service for her original owner, and named Agnes Allen BM 21. She became part of a large fleet of sidewinder trawlers owned by the company, many of which were also Admiralty-built boats of a similar age.

Agnes Allen was sold by Torbay Trawlers to a Newlyn company, W Stevenson & Sons Ltd in June 1962, where she became Elizabeth Ann Webster PZ 291, a large trawler in a port hitherto better known as a long-lining stronghold.

Continuing her work as a side-winder until the late 1960s, Elizabeth Ann Webster was then taken to the Dartmouth yard of Philip & Sons, where she was converted into a beam trawler; the first beamer in Newlyn and almost certainly the biggest in the UK at the time. The work entailed the fitting of a new wheelhouse, beam gantry and derricks, a decked-in stern as well as strengthened steel inner bulwarks.

Being built originally as a wooden sidewinder the steel strengthening bars soon produced many superficial streaks of rust, I'm sure she looked pristine after a re-fit for a day or two.
Such was the success of Elizabeth Ann Webster as a beamer that her owners diversified their fleet to this method, building up a sizeable fleet of second-hand Dutch vessels, as well as eventually converting their other two 95ft Admiralty-built boats, including Marie Claire PZ 295.

The end came for the pioneer of Newlyn beam-trawling in October 2007, when, after a long lay-up, she was towed to a tidal area of the harbour and broken-up, unceremoniously, by diggers.

 Original watercolour on paper, signed lower right.

Image size: 15.5 x 11.5 inches
Mount size: 20 x 16 inches
Frame size: 23 x 19 inches

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