While foraging through my backlogue of bits and bobs I stumbled across this, an unsigned piece that was given to me many years ago, which outlines someone's thoughts on the history of the Milford Fishing Industry. See what you think.

"During the First World War a large number of trawlers, Castle Boats, Mersey-Type Strath Class were built by the Admiralty to do different duties all over the world, and mainly manned by some of the finest Trawlermen ever known, and, as we know, hundreds never returned.

Well, onto my story, as far as I can recall.

In 1918, when hostilities ceased, many trawlers which had been taken over from private owners were returned to resume fishing, but a large number of vessels were formed into groups and known as the Mine Clearance Service to sweep the Oceans clear of mines, etc, around our coasts.

After approximately 12 months, about 100 trawlers were sent from Irish Bases to Milford Haven, which was already making great progress with its Fishing Industry, and had been a trawling port before the war broke out in 1914.

They were dismantled of guns etc and later beached at Pennar Gut, Angle, and laid up wherever possible. Now several ex-servicemen and local businessmen formed companies and bought several of these trawlers (mostly Castle boats) to build up firms like Brand & Curzon, Ritchie & Davies, Pettit & Sons, Jenkersons, Commander Lawford.

They built up offices, workshops etc and times began to prosper. To man the vessels many trawlermen were brought from all over the country, mostly from Lowestoft.

The Fleet built up rapidly as an abundance of fish was to be caught off our shores. 20 miles off Milford was the famous fishing grounds namely the Smalls, where, at certain times of the year ships could fill up in a couple of days with herring and prawns, so much that tons and tons were dumped back into the sea or sent up to the Fish Meal Works which were just outside Milford.

Then came the kippering firms..Woodger, Mitchell Brothers and many more. They built first class Smoke Houses along the beach and prospered for a while.

One gentleman who started as a lumper, landing and sorting out the fish as it was landed, actually started a salting firm on the Hakin side of the Dock. Later he became a Trawler Owner.

I should state we had approximately 120 trawlers plus a large number of vessels from Lowestoft, Brixham, Ramsgate, all helping to swell the tonnage of fish to be landed.

Later, many Spanish ships (which fished in pairs) landed great catches of hake from deep waters, so great were these trips that some local firms began to manage them and also converted some of their own vessels to pair fishing.

The Belgium Trawler Owners sent trawlers to Milford and, all in all, things were bright and prosperous. As was to be expected, the amount of fish could not last and trips began to dwindle.

One firm saw a future and built large trawlers for the Iceland trade, which proved a failure, and after a while the firm split up and one partner went to Hull, the firm went into bankruptcy and the ships were sold to Fleetwood and other places.

The other partner, I am sorry to say, was so upset, he ended his life and so ended a once prosperous firm. The office was taken over by a local owner until another firm was formed known as the Milford Fisheries, only to go the same way as many others after the loss of two fine ships and many of the crew.

So ended that famous corner (called Curzons Corner) where a fine Ice Factory had been built, and which is now a derelict site where you cannot see anyone walking, never mind working, and the Factory pulled down.

Well, as the years roll by, the firms disappear and times and catches grow worse. One firm, The Steam Trawler Co. still saw a future and with 6 Castle Boats already, had several diesel boats built together with large buildings to freeze any surplus fish. They even sent four of their largest ships down to the African Coast where their ships caught large trips of hake, but as it was on the soft side, it did not prove a success.

After a while they began to sell, and scrap their steam trawlers and went all diesel, but disaster struck.

One of their fine ships foundered with the full crew, never to be heard of again. Well things grew worse and finally there came the close of another fleet of trawlers.

Fish began to get scarce, trips began to fail, many small firms began to go out of business and buyers got scarce, the men going elsewhere. Trade began to fall in the town, especially in the pubs, where every day used to be a pay-day. Not anymore, for they are almost deserted.

The workshops have all gone, except the Dry Dock which mostly depends on the tankers which have taken over the harbour. I could go on telling you sordid details, but I will leave it to a later date when I will give you the life of the men who were British Slaves to get you, what is now a luxury, your good old fish breakfast.

As I opened this story when we were flourishing, I close with the sad news that we have only a dozen trawlers left, some of which are also due to go the same way as the Caldy, Slebech and Rudilais. 

I fear that whoever gave me this is no longer with us, but I'm grateful to have been able to share it with you, and add a pic of the aforementioned Rudilais, one of the boats returned to Fleetwood, before it was broken up in Antwerp in 1956.

Time for me to sail away, but I leave you with this pearl of wisdom from Michael Ford, who said: "Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older it starts avoiding you."

Take care. Please stay safe.