The Ketch ‘R Passmore’

Written by S. Ablott
First Published
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The R Passmore was a ketch rigged cargo vessel launched at Burton Stather in November 1890 for Master Mariner, David Wallace Foreman and John William Bell of St Andrews, Fife.1 Foreman and Bell would later buy the ketch T W Ashton also. The 79 ton vessel was first registered in Dundee and was captained by Foreman.2

A Dangerous Cargo

On the 3rd of April 1908 the R Passmore was lying off the East Pier at Leith, when she was run into by the SS Vesta of Copenhagen, which had just left the harbour. The ketch was at the time carrying a very explosive cargo of gelignite. Fortunately the ship struck at the bows, breaking the bowsprit. Had the ship hit the hull at the hold, the results could have been disastrous. Captain David Foreman took legal action against Julius Theodore Gufredsen, master of the Vesta, claiming £70 for damages. The defendant denied liability, but the court ruled in favour of Foreman, the evidence indicating that the anchor light of the ketch was burning brightly.3a

New Owners

In August 1912 Foreman sold the R Passmore to John Forsyth of Montrose, where she was re-registered.1

Additions to Montrose Shipping

It is understood that the purchase has been effected by two Montrose ship owners of two St Andrews vessels. Both vessels, which are the R. Passmore and the Nelly, are each about 100 tons register. The Montrose shipping list has for some time been at a low level, and it is gratifying that additions such as these will strengthen the interest of those concerned in the trade of the harbour, and provide employment for local seafaring men.3b

Dundee Courier
20th August 1912

On The Rocks

On the 7th of February 1913 the R Passmore was being towed from Kircaldy to Crail, to load with a cargo of potatoes. She had a crew of four, led by Captain J Edwards. When the tug threw her off, the wind changed, causing her to drift onto the rocks to the east of Crail Harbour.3c

A Move to Guernsey

The Mercantile Navy Lists for 1918 show her port of registry changed to Guernsey, also her ownership changed to the Sarnia Shipping Co. Ltd. (William Stranger) of North Quay, Vale, Guernsey. In 1920 the owner is John Marwood of 14, South Castle Street, Liverpool.1 While registered at Guernsey, a portrait of the ketch was painted by the pierhead painter Rueben Chappell. Originaly from Goole, Chappell later worked in the West Country and Channel Islands.4 We have yet to find an image of the painting.

Distress Off The Smalls

In the September of 1924, while on passage from Liverpool to Guernsey with a cargo of China Clay, the ketch was caught in severe gales off The Smalls.5 The crew of four had been in distress and without food for about 50 hours when their signal was seen by the ST Tripp of Milford Haven on the 21st. The steam trawler, under Captain James of Brixham, took the ketch in tow, safely into Fishguard Harbour.6

The R Passmore, laid up at Uphill, 1930s.

Final Owners

The MNL shows another owner in 1930 as Daniel Gower of 38, George St, Cardiff.1 The ships' register was closed in 1931.7 The R Passmore was then left as a derelict hulk by the creek at Uphill, near Western Super Mare, along with a few others. There was the Norah, built at Bridgewater in 1868, the Daisy, built at Goole, the Ruth, a small pilot cutter and the steamer Duke of Edinburgh. The yacht club contacted the Borough Council about the danger of obstruction caused by the hulks. A by-law was adopted, enforcing their removal from the marina. In 1938 the hulks went to auction. The Norah failed to find a purchaser and was burnt, with the iron collected for scrap. The R Passmore fetched £4 2s 6d. What became of her then, we do not know.8

Vessel Details for R Passmore

Official Number:96418
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Vessel Name:R Passmore
  • David W Foreman of Fife 1900
  • John Forsyth of Montrose 1912
  • Sarnia Shipping Co. William Stranger 1918
  • John Marwood of Liverpool 1920
  • Daniel Gower of Cardiff 1930
  • D W Foreman 1896
  • J Edwards 1913
  • James Coull 1915
  • Dundee 1890
  • Montrose 1912
  • Guernsey 1918
Notes:Was painted by Goole artist Reuben Chappell. Was beached as a hulk at Uphill, Western Super Mare, auctioned in 1939, fetched 4.26 Registry closed 1931.
Trade:General cargo around the UK. Made at least one trans Atlantic crossing.
Incidents:Went on the rocks at Crail Harbour 7th Feb 1913. Was disabled in severe gales off The Smalls, Pembrokeshire on Sunday 21st of Sept 1924, was towed into Fishguard with 4 crew by ST Tripp on the 22nd. Carrying china clay from Guernsey.
Fate:Was left as a derelict hulk in the creek at Uphill, near Western Super Mare. The hulk was sold at auction and removed.
Image:View Image Picture


  1. The Mercantile Navy Lists.
  2. Lloyd's Register of Ships.
  3. The Dundee Courier
    1. 13th November 1908
    2. 20th August 1912
    3. 8th February 1913
  5. Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph 24th September, 1924
  6. Western Morning News 3rd October 1924
  7. The National Archives.
  8. Weston, Worle & Somerset Mercury 22nd January 2007

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© 2024 Burton upon Stather Heritage Group

© Background Photograph by Steve Smith.