Written by S. Ablott
First Published


The Burton Stather Fishing Company Ltd.
Burton Stather Fishing Company

The Burton was a ketch rigged fishing smack of 69 tons and 72 feet in length, built at Burton Stather in 1873, for the Burton Stather Fishing Company Ltd.1 She was registered at Grimsby with the fishing number GY414.2

Burton Ship Launch

On Thursday morning, the 13th instant, Messrs. J. Wray and Son launched from their yard a fine new fishing-smack. She belongs to the Burton-upon-Stather Shipping Company, and is named the Burton.3

Hull Packet
21th February 1873

The Burton Stather Fishing Co.

North Sea fishing had become such a booming industry in the late nineteenth century that more and more people wanted a piece of it. With links to the industry through the shipyard, the Stather set up it's own fishing company.

George's Shares

BSFC Share
George Morfin's BSFC shares
Click to enlarge

This is a £10 share in the company which belonged to George Morfin. George, the son of a Gainsborough shipbuilder, started work at the shipyard in 1848 as a 14 year old boy apprentice. He eventually became the yard manager in 1871, staying in that role until the closure in 1892.4 This share, number 190 is dated the 27th of December 1877, one of a number of shares signed for George that day. It is signed by Thomas Marshall, secretary. The two Directors are John Godfrey and Rae Stanewell.5 John Godfrey was a tailor, born in Flixborough, living in Burton on Stather. Rae Stanewell was a potato merchant, born in Gainsborough and living in Burton.5 Both men's graves, and George's can be found in St Andrews Churchyard.

An earlier one of George's shares, No 141 (next in the slideshow), is dated the 31st of August, but without giving the year. Is signed by James Coulthurst as director, in place of John Godfrey.5 This was possibly James Coulthurst (1814-1892) born in Weekley, Northants, who likely lived in Burton Stather, since at least two of his children were born there. Or it is possibly his son James (1847-1914) living at Peacock Cottage, West Halton, assistant gamekeeper to the Sheffields of Normanby. His son was Frank Coulthurst, from the Burton WWI Roll of Honour.7

The company was voluntarily wound up in June 1893 after a meeting in the Temperance Hall on the 3rd. Thomas Marshall was then chairman.8

Washed Overboard

The smack Burton was was fishing in the North Sea on the 1st of March 1886. About ten past four that afternoon, there were just two men on deck, Charles Fletcher, deckhand, and George Cant the second hand. The vessel shipped a heavy sea which washed Cant overboard. Fletcher raised the alarm, fetching skipper George Thomas on deck. Efforts were made to save him, but he had sunk.9


In October that year, the Burton landed the crew of German schooner Burgermeister in Grimsby. Their ship was abandoned and brought into the Royal Dock in a leaky condition.10

To Norway and the Faroes

The Burton was sold to Norway in the April of 1897.2 The UK register on the ship was closed. It was a sign of the times, that iron and steam was taking over from wood and sail in the British fleets towards the end of the century. This led to the demise of yards such as John Wray & Son at Burton Stather. Many of the surviving smacks were sold to Northern fishing nations such as Norway, Denmark, Iceland and the Faroes.

The Burton at the Thomsen pier in Tvøroyri, Faroe Islands
The Burton at the Thomsen pier in Tvøroyri, Faroe Islands. She was owned by the Thomsen company from 1909 until 1921.

In 1905 we see Burton appear in the Danish register of ships in The Faroe Islands. She remains in the Danish register until 192311 afterwhich there is no trace.

Vessel Details for Burton

Official Number:67704
Fishing Number:GY414
Vessel Name:Burton
  • The Burton Stather Fishing Co 1875
  • Robert George Reeves of Grimsby 1880
  • James Plastow of Grimsby 1888
  • J. Kielnæs 1905
  • J. Mortensen 1909
  • H G Thomsen 1911
  • Henry Forester 1884
  • Alfred Stephenson 1884
  • Albert Plastow 1885
  • George Thomas 1886
  • Thomas Wiles 1887 Robert George Reeves
  • William James Baker 1888
  • John Atkin 1888
  • John Lee Johnson 1890
  • John Haaland 1894
  • J Waller 1896
  • N P Anderson 1896
  • J Davidsen 1920
  • S Djurhuus 1922
  • Grimsby 1873 97
  • Trongisvágur 1905
Notes:Sold to Norway April 1897, UK register closed. On Danish register until 1923.
Trade:North Sea Fishing.
Incidents:1st March 1886, George Cant was washed overboard and drowned.
Image:View Image Picture


  1. The Mercantile Navy Lists.
  2. Sailing Trawlers and Liners of Grimsby by Charles Bernard Cox
  3. Hull Packet 21th February 1873
  4. Stather Chapter & Verse by Winn Readhead
  5. George Morfin's BSFC Shares
  6. UK Census
  7. Four Generations of Coulthursts by Thomas M Smith
  8. The London Gazette 16th June 1893
  9. Hull Daily Mail 4th March 1886
  10. Shields Daily Gazette 28th October 1886
  11. Danmarks Skibsliste 1905 - 1923

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© 2024 Burton upon Stather Heritage Group

© Background Photograph by Steve Smith.