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Tracing the History of a Smack
There are two different ways of researching the history of a registered fishing vessel that we have used. Fishing returns are held in the Kew Record Office, they consist of books organised on a fishing port basis, and span 5 year intervals. The records start from around 1880 to 1940 ish. For each port, eg Colchester, all the registered fishing boats are listed, starting with CK1, CK2 etc and give the name of the vessel which is currently using that fishing number, the Class of the smack (Class 1, 2 or 3), tonnage, type of fishing (trawling, dredging etc) and the number of people employed on the vessel. You have to go to Kew to look at these records yourself. The fishing returns are held under document code BT145. There is a poor web site for Kew and a map. It is a very well organised research centre, well worth a visit, but you have to follow all of their rules - eg registering as a reader when you arrive, ordering books on their system, and only looking at 3 volumes at time. There is no cost unless you want to get a photocopy of any pages. We just took pencils and notebooks to record what we wanted.
The second way of researching the history, which is ideal if you know the registered fishing number and name of the vessel, is to contact the Registry of Shipping and Seamen at Anchor House, Cheviot Close, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF14 5JA [a map here], tel 02920 768227. They hold records pertaining to each vessel which include basic details of the boat - length of keel, length, breadth, depth, tonnage and number of crew, as well as the registered fishing number, port, method of propulsion and type of fishing, plus a list of all owners and their addresses during the time that the vessel used the registered fishing number. I don't think you can go and look at these records yourself, but they will usually be able to provide a photocopy of the relevant page (which may cost you 25).
Pete & Clare Thomas
Transcur CK 365
2001 Roger Walker - Revised 4 August 2001