PZ.613 Albania

Albania – PZ.613 : 1897-1916;
Orion – PZ.613 : 1916-1935;
Hawa Dilli – PZ.613 : 1935-1962.
[Official No. 164791; 1935]

The Albania, was one of the finest first class Mount’s Bay luggers, built at Newlyn at the turn of the nineteenth century. She was built to the order of Newlyn fisherman John Tremethick, who was then about 59 years of age, and she and her sister lugger Annie Jane,[*] were built alongside each other on the Old Green at Tolcarne, Newlyn. The local newspaper attributed these luggers to Mr. William Peake, but I’m convinced that they were built by his sons, Henry and Joseph. The two luggers may have been built as joint construction products, or each of the brothers may have built one in competition with each other. Whichever, from their registered dimensions they appear to have been built from the same model, and must have been near identical twins. Within a couple of years completing these boats, the brothers parted rags, with Joe Peake forming a new firm.

Under construction during the summer of 1897, local correspondents to The Cornishman briefly noted their completion and launch at the end of November, but don’t ask me why the paper printed these reports in such a disjointed way – even in the same column of general Newlyn news. There must have been a couple of correspondents submitting copy, with no editorial attempt to reconcile them.

NEWLYN: MESSRS. PEAKE, of Newlyn, have about completed the two fine fishing-boats they have had in course of building at Tolcarne. Both are regarded as first-class craft.

MESSRS. John Tremethick and Sons’ new fishing boat was successfully launched from Messrs. Peake’s Newlyn building-ground and brought into harbour on Tuesday.

AN ADDITION TO THE FISHING-FLEET: Mr. W. Peake, boat-builder, Newlyn, has recently completed two 23-ton fishing-boats. They are two of the finest in the fleet, being just over 51 feet in length. One of them, the Albania, was successfully launched at high tide on Tuesday, and the other, the Annie Jane, will be floated to day (Wednesday).[*]

The Albania~PZ.613, was built for John Tremethick, senior, and was named after his daughter – who was presumably named after political events; while the Annie Jane~PZ.614, was built for Mrs. Jane Bennetts – both parties notionally hailing from Newlyn, though Mrs Bennetts was then housekeeper to Colonel Paynter, of Boskenna, St. Buryan. This pair of 51½ foot lug-sailed mackerel-drivers were registered at the Penzance Custom House on November 20th 1897, a few days prior to their launch.[*]

Virtually complete when launched, the final outfitting of these boats, including the fitting of steam-capstans and their boilers, were carried out in Newlyn harbour. Steam capstans were an essential mechanical aid on the bigger mackerel-drivers, enabling them to set longer trains of nets, increasing their catching and earning potential. In reporting this final stage of completion one of the Newlyn correspondents was confused as to the Albania’s name; and another as to one of their owners. –

NEWLYN: THE two new fishing boats recently built at Newlyn for Messrs. Tremethick and Triggs, by Messrs. Peake, are named Albania and Annie Jane respectively.

THE TWO NEW BOATS, Tasmania and Annie Jane, recently launched at Newlyn, are being rapidly prepared for the forthcoming fishing season at Plymouth. They are to be supplied with steam-capstans and all the latest improvements and will, in all probability, be in Plymouth by the next “darks”. The registered numbers are 613 and 614 respectively. [*]

The Plymouth herring season was just underway, and the ‘darks’ were the moonless period when drift net fishing tended to be more successful. The Albania was skippered by John Tremethick, junior, and Henry Love Triggs, having been appointed skipper of the Annie Jane, may have contributed the misidentifications in the above reports.

Primarily a mackerel-driver, but very well suited for drifting for herrings as well, the Albania came into her own in the following spring.

The first successful night’s mackerel fishing in Mount’s Bay took place on Thursday night. Repeated trials with heavy damage to nets, had somewhat damped the ardour of the fishermen, and only 20 mackerel-drivers were at sea. Of these the Albania had the highest catch – three thousand good fish. Several others had a thousand, a thousand-and-a-half, and a few hundreds per boat. Prices, we are told, averaged 29s. per 120. On Thursday night one Newlyn hooker got 19 score of ling! These were sold at 8d. per fish. [*]

Albania PZ.613 running for Newlyn ca.1900

A consequence of the Newlyn Riots of 1896, was the annual presence of ‘peace-keeping’ R.N., vessels in Mount’s Bay, during ensuing mackerel seasons, up until 1907. Usually ‘torpedo gun boats’ were so employed, and the stern of one of these naval guard ships, anchored off, can be seen in the above photo of the Albania running in for Newlyn harbour.

There were frequent reports of the Turks and Albanian events over the next few years, so news of the progress of the Albania in the fisheries was occasional at best. However, on February 24th 1900, Miss Albania Tremethick, the daughter after whom the boat was named, happened to marry Mr. John Wesley Ash, of Mousehole.

There were, however, sufficient reports about the boat to get a feel for her fishing endeavours, and that October we learn:

There were unprecedentedly large catches of mackerel landed at Plymouth on Saturday. About fifty last of fish were secured,[*] and the largest catches it is satisfactory to notice were made by Mount’s Bay boats. The fish were of medium size and mainly caught in herring nets. Some boats made as much as £170. The most successful was the Albania of Newlyn.[*]

And:

At Plymouth some of our fishermen have had excellent catches of mackerel during the past few days. The Albania secured a last of these much-desired fish in her herring-nets on Wednesday night.[*]

At the commencement of the ensuing mackerel season:

Good news was received from Plymouth, at Newlyn, on Wednesday, both in the mackerel and herring fisheries; the Newlyn boats having done well. The Albania had 6,000 mackerel, which sold for 26s. per 120.[*]

Setting long trains of mackerel nets, to drift with the tide, in the confines of the bay, always carried a risk of the ends of the trains getting entangled in the rocky foreshores. Usually the fishermen’s knowledge of the tides and weather enabled them to fish without mishap, but occasionally they were caught out. Early in the winter of 1901, her crew were caught at their nets by the onset of foul weather. –

Caught by a Change of Wind. –  On Friday night the Newlyn fleet shot near the western land with every promise of a clear drift, but a sudden shift of wind caused three or four boats to have a very narrow chance of going ashore. The Albania had to cut away six nets, the Cornucopia four, and other boats parted with some share of their fleet. Luckily all were found again, but the escape from the rocks was remarkable.[*]

At the commencement of the 1902 spring mackerel season, the Albania was again at the head of the more successful boats.

On Saturday one or two boats landed a few mackerel. The biggest catch was a thousand, by the Albania. A few boats had from a score to a hundred or two, but the major part of the fleet was very lightly fished indeed. The fish realised £2 15s. per 120.[*]

I don’t believe that John Tremethick was necessarily a better fisherman than his fellow skippers, and his larger catches probably had a lot to do with the size of the train of nets set from his boat; which was closely tied to the size of his boat, and the extent of his – or the crew’s – investment in nets. However, he does appear to have had a knack of catching mackerel in his herring nets. Just in time for Christmas.-

Good Catches. – On Saturday the Albania (Messrs. Tremethick) landed about 4,000 mackerel, which averaged £2 per 120. The Jane Harvey had nearly 1,000, and the Boy Willie 500. Amongst these welcome fish there were little or no herrings.[*]

Not all catches were so welcome or rewarding:

Though mackerel have been very scarce the past few days, other fish, unfortunately of a less marketable character, have been most plentiful. Those of the fleet who were fishing last week from 70 to 90 miles S.W. of the Bishop, fell in with large shoals of scads and dogs. The Albania hauled in 10,000 scads on Tuesday night, the Percy 10,000, and the Coronation 7,000, and the two latter also caught some thousands each the following night. Dogfish, too, have been numerous, and of these the Eliza netter over 5,000 on Tuesday night. Other boats had lesser quantities, some scads, others dogs, some again both. A Frenchman hailed one of the Bay boats as to what mackerel she had replied “no mac, no hake, no dog,” with one of the latter held up between finger and thumb but Frenchmen take almost every kind of fish to land where he finds a ready market for all, whilst here dogfish and scads are practically unsaleable, and the large quantities taken the men were compelled to scoop into the sea.[*]

What the reporter did not mention was the trouble the fishermen had in un-meshing scads. These spiny fish – caught fast in the nets – did not shake out easily on hauling, and their spikes caused painful wounds to the fishermen’s hands, which were liable to turn septic. On the other hand, the dogfish caused extensive damage to their nets as they tried to rip other fish from their embrace, and then got rolled up in the nets, ripping and tearing in their bid to escape.

Like many of her predecessors, and a few of her West Cornish contemporaries, the Albania also engaged in the North Sea herring fishery, after the close of the home mackerel season. Such was the case in the summer on 1903.

Most of the boats on the North Sea herring fishery did fairly well last week, the Albania grossing £25, and the Auld Lang Syne and Annie Harvey, £20 each. One or two other boats caught good quantities of fish, but being of poor quality, they fetched a small price. Some boats only earned their week’s victualling.[*]

Fishing was ever a precarious means of earning a living – feast and famine being close neighbours. Ever optimistic, when the home fishing was slight, the local fishermen would venture far and wide in search of fish.

On Tuesday night the Springflower, Boy Bob, and Fiona, returned from the successful Kinsale mackerel fishery, and the Emblem, Lizzie Tonkin, Bessie, and Thomasine arrived on Tuesday morning. The Progress, and Albania, which had left for there on Tuesday of last week, and the Expert are the only boats now fishing at Kinsale. Between the large quantity of mackerel caught, dogfish, and the rocks, the nets of the boats fishing on the Irish coast are in a very bad plight indeed, and almost half of each boats nets have become useless. The gross earnings last week were from £28 per boat down, the mackerel being rather scarce, and taking off immediately the easterly wind set in.[*]

“Oh the vagaries of fishing!” – but the Kinsale season this year had generally produced above average returns:

The season at Kinsale, that has not been equalled for many years, has at last come to a close, the last boats – the Expert and the Albania – arriving on Wednesday, the Progress continuing he voyage to Plymouth. After repeated failure of the Irish mackerel fishery, only a dozen boats from here, and three from Mousehole, sailed for Kinsale this year, and the result far exceeded the expectations of even the most sanguine. There were splendid catches of mackerel almost every night the boats shot, and the price remained throughout at from 13s. to 16s. per 120. The excellent price was due solely to the presence of but few boats, the quantity daily being just sufficient for the curers to deal with, whilst in other years two days have glutted the market, and the fleet have been compelled to remain in harbour for the remainder of the week, as Kinsale is no fresh fish market, all the mackerel being salted for the American markets. On no cruise from home for a long period had this season’s average per boat been even approached, and in no single case has a boat’s crew earned less than £15 per man, running from this sum up to £42 per man for only nine or ten weeks’ voyage, results that give the greatest satisfaction to all, in spite of the heavy damage to fishing gear. Combined with a good pilchard season at home by far the larger portion of the fishing community can face the coming winter with less anxiety than in many recent years.[*]

Between seasons in the summer of 1904 John Tremethick was drying many lengths of footline, on the back of the Old Quay, Newlyn, a common practise amongst the fishermen, when some went missing. John was reluctant to say they had been stolen, but they might have taken up by mistake with others. The footline was of ‘the best of those spread on the pier, and cannot be replaced for £4.’ [*]  One week later they had still not been returned:

The four lengths of new footline, belonging to Mr. John Tremethick, that were quietly abstracted from a quantity on the old pier a few days ago, are still missing, and no trace whatever of the missing warp has been discovered. Such a regrettable occurrence is, fortunately, very rare in a town where many scores of ponds’ worth of nets, ropes, and lines are frequently left drying on the cliffs, piers, and beach. [*]

Coils of mackerel foot-lines drying on the back of the Old Quay wall in Newlyn

In the spring of 1908, John Tremethick was one of many fishermen and other seafaring men giving their opinions to Sir Clifford Cory M.P., on the need for the Runnelstone buoy to exhibit a warning light, as well as the bell it then carried.

Mr. John Tremethick, jun. – Coming from the Longships, coasters and fishing boats kept the Longships’ white light just turning red, and in a strong east wind that carried them about three quarters of a mile outside the Runnelstone buoy. They could not then judge their distance to know when to tack into Mount’s Bay, but if there was a light on the Runnelstone they could come home direct, even if the weather were thick. Nothing caused him so much trouble and anxiety as rounding the Runnelstone at night. One could not tell when one was abreast of the buoy. [*]

Father John Tremethick died on January 16th, 1914, at the age of 76, and that summer the First World War broke out. His son John was then about 47 years of age, also had an interest in several other boats, and two years later the Albania was sold to the Humphrys brothers of Mousehole, who re-named her Orion.

 This boat’s history is continued in this series, under PZ.613 Orion.

Albania’s – registered dimensions:

Length of Keel (ft.) 47.0
Length (ft.) 51.5
Breadth (ft.) 15.2
Depth (ft.) 6.8
Tonnage – tons gross 23.95
Tonnage – net reg. 23.95
Number of crew – men 6
Number of crew – boys

Tony Pawlyn
Created 16/12/2017; Amended 10/7/2020; Work in progress