Fleetwing

Fleetwing
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The Fleetwing was a brig, built by Richard Jones at Borth y Gest, in 1874. her outright owners were the Pritchard brothers, well known Porthmadog shipbrokere/managers. Her dimensions were: 237 GRT, 110' LOA, 25' Beam and 14.6' Max draft.

During her busy life she worked in many trades, phosphate rock from Aruba and general trade to Brazil, West Indies, West Africa and the Mediterrenean. Many well known Porthmadog, Borth y Gest and Criccieth seamen sailed on this strong little ship then moved on to the BEESWING, Pritchard Brother' steel barque and the other locally owned square rigged ships.


{short description of image}In 1911 the Fleetwing was bought by the Falkland Island Company and a Liverpool crew sailed her out there where she was rigged down and used as a barge then a storage hulk for wool and other commodities.


Photo submitted by Alan Paton of W.Australia

The FLEETWING today

(some articles and notes from the last twenty years or so)

The following is an extract from an article by Michael Stammers (well known Liverpool Maritime Historian) taken from Maritime Wales/Cymru ar Mor No 4 1979, who visited the Falklands in 1979. It accompanies an article by the late Aled Eames who was proposing an effort to salvage some of the remains.::


The FLEETWING arrived at Port Stanley on 30th October 1911 with a cargo of coal, having been purchased from her Welsh owners by the Falkland Island Company. It is not clear whether they intended using her in the inter-island trade or whether she was to be a store hulk. At some point after her arrival she was beached, close to the Falkland Island's East Jetty. This is still in use by the local cargo vessel, the motorship MONSUNEN, and by the chartered Danish vessel which brings supplies from England four times a year. The jetty incorporates the stern of the Canadian three master EGERIA and the bows of the Greenock built WILLIAM SHAND. Both are protected by 'Noah's Ark' roofs.

To the east of the jetty lie a whole range of abandoned craft, amongst them a tug, several wooden lighters, one of which is fitted with a sailing ship type pump windlass, and the inter island schooner PENGUIN. In board of these lies the FLEETWING. Unfortunately she has been cut down to the tween decks and she is used as a dump for rusty forty gallon oil dumps. There are so many of these at present that it is impossible to see much of her internal construction or fittings. All her deck beams have been cut away but the ends of these remain along with their wooden lodging knees. One iron knee protrudes beyond the pile of oil drums to indicate the original height of her main deck, and about fifty yards away lies a pile of similar knees which are probably from the FLEETWING. Three horizontal timbers represent the remains of her counter. Her rudder, all deck fittings and accommodation details have all disappeared so far as one can tell. There may be all sorts of interesting relics under those drums. On the quay, some of her spars survive. At low tide, it is possible to walk virtualy round her hull. Her planking, apart from one or two sprung planks, is in remakably good gondition, as are her stern and stern post. Fragments of her copper sheathing survives, and at her stern her seven foot draught mark cut out of lead strip is still there.

The most impressive thing about her is her superb underwater shape. With a hollow entrance, rising floors amidships and a long tun aft, she is almost a miniature clipper. Her reputation for speedy passages is scarcely surprising with such a hull. That she has survived so long is a testimony to the craftmanship of her builders. It is a great shame that she is treated as a dump and not as a nautical antique of great historic value, which undoubtedly she is:...................

P.S. I also have a photo copy of an article taken from a yachting magazine (I think) by Dr Richard Wescott who inherited a painting of the FLEETWING from his grandfather who was from Borth y Gest. The article includes some photos of the vessel, taken by a marines officer shortly after the Falklands War of 1982. It shows the old lady as being very much in the sorry state described by Mike Stammers. RDC.

January 1998/Ionawr 1998
Here is an extract from an email I received from Terry Evans from Pentrefoelas, formerly Blaenau Ffestiniog.


Dyma darn allan o ebost gefais oddiwrth Terry Evans o Pentrefoelas, cynt o Blaenau Ffestiniog.

"Diddorol oedd darllen am y Fleetwing am fy mod i wedi bod yn gweithio yn Port Stanly yn y Falklands. Roeddwn yn aros mewn ty wrth ochor y cei lle roedd y Fleetwing yn gorwedd. Roedd hyn yn 1985, nid oedd llawer o'r llong yn dal iw weld. Roeddwn yn holi y trigloion lleol am y llong, ac roeddan yn dweud bod ar yr adeg y rhyfel, bod yr Archantwyr yn dymyno llosgi gweddillion y Fleetwing ere mwyn cadw yn gynes on trwy rhiw ragliniaeth ni ddigwyddodd hyn. Prynais lyfr yno 'Condemned at Stanly' hanes llongau sydd wedi ei colli ar yr arfordir, mae 'Sketch' or llong yno ac erthygl bach".

In the above Terry relates how when he was working in the Falklands in 1985 he lodged in a house opposite where the "Fleetwing" lay rotting away. The locals told him that during the Falklands war the Argies were so cold they wanted to burn the wreckage to keep warm but were prevented from doing so. He bought a book there entitled "Condemned at Stanley" which has a sketch and a small article about the vessel. RDC.

{short description of image}In March 2002, Richard Chalk, of Porthmadog, sent me some photos of her taken during the Falklands War by a friend. Here is one which shows her still powerfull looking bows. The others are of her hold, completely jammed with rusting oil drums. Mike Stammers has visited her again in recent years and she is deteriorating fast. Other reports , in shipping magazines, state that some of the other wooden hulks down there are suffering from toredo worm attack.

2007 Latest news. I have heard from Steve Shakespeare that the remains of the FLEETWING have been bulldozed away and a seawall built on the site.

Sources,

Immortal Sails by Henry Hughes
Through Mighty Seas by Henry Hughes
Porthmadog Ships by Aled Eames and Emrys Hughes
Twilight of Welsh Sail by Aled Eames
Maritime Wales
Sea Breezes

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