Certificate no 672
Status National Historic Fleet
a12admin

Details

Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Drifter
Location Lerwick
Vessel type Fifie
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No
Web address http://www.swantrust.com

Construction

Builder Hay & Co Ltd, Lerwick
Built in 1900
Hull material Wood
Rig Gaff Ketch
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None

Dimensions

Breadth: Beam
19.74 feet (6.02 m)
Depth
7.11 feet (2.17 m)
Length: Overall
66.95 feet (20.42 m)
Tonnage: Gross
57.00
Air Draft
To be confirmed

History

On 3 May 1900 the fifie SWAN (LK 243) was launched at Hay & Co Ltd’s Freefield yard in Lerwick, and was then the largest fishing vessel in Shetland. Owned by her builders, her first skipper was Thomas Isbister. Her frames were of oak, with a larch and pitch pine skin, and she was fitted with a steam capstan to handle her nets and the twin dipping lugsail rig. In her early daysSWAN was engaged in the spring longline fishing and, from May to September, in drift net fishing for herring. She was soon taken over by a Whalsay crew, and Symbister, on that island, became her home port for almost half a century.

In 1908 she was converted to a gaff ketch Shetland smack rig and continued to fish under sail until 1935. By then she was one of only five sailing herring drifters left in Shetland. After the Second World War she was used in seine net fishing. Finally in 1960 she was sold for conversion to a houseboat and towed to Grimsby. She then had several different owners and ended up in Hartlepool in 1982, where she lay neglected for some time, sinking two or three times due to lack of maintenance. A local businessman, Keith Parkes, realised her importance and bought the sunken hulk in 1989 with a view to restoration. He made the hull seaworthy again, but finding he did not have the time needed to complete the project he offered her for sale in The Shetland Times in 1990. Led by James Moncrieff, the Swan Trust was formed and brought her back to the Shetlands in April 1991 under the power of her own engine.

After a major restoration, aided by a £25,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, SWAN was re-launched on 11 May 1996. She was re-rigged as a Shetland smack by T Nielsen & Co, the new rig (designed by Tom Moncrieff) being as authentic as possible. A steam capstan was rebuilt and converted for hydraulic power. Below deck the aft cabin has been rebuilt in the style of the original and a larger cabin has been fitted out amidships, giving a total of 15 berths plus a saloon, galley, toilets and a shower. She began operating commercially in 1998 as a sail training ship, and sails not only in Shetland waters but also to the coasts of Norway and the Faroe Islands, and the near continent. Based at Lerwick, she is a regular entrant in the Tall Ships Races. Each year she takes out over 1000 students from schools and youth groups in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

Source: Historic Sail, Britain's surviving working craft, Paul Brown, the History Press.

Sources

Robert Simper, Scottish Sail: Forgotten Era (1974) pub: David and Charles
Norman J Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Edition 2, 1993) pub: Anthony Nelson
Classic Boat (September, 1995) Swan upped
Classic Boat (August, 1998) Swan lets children sleep as she rides out storm force 10
Classic Boat (February Edition 273, 2011) Charter UK Destinations - Wish you were here?
Classic Boat (June Edition 276, 2011) Fifie becomes National Flagship

Key dates

  • 1900

    Built by Hay & Co., Lerwick, Shetland Isles

  • 1960

    Ceased fishing and sold to an Australian who took her south

  • 1982

    Found at Hartlepool, derelict and sunk

  • 1989

    Bought by Keith Parkes and advertised for sale

  • 1991

    Brought back to Shetlands and the Swan Trust formed

  • 1996

    Re-launched after extensive restoration

  • 1998

    Became a sail training vessel based in Lerwick, Shetland Isles

  • 2011

    Refitted at Macduff; competed in the Tall Ships Race

  • 2011

    Awarded Flagship of the Year by National Historic Ships UK and an award of £1000 from the Strategic Development Fund

Grants

  • April 2011

    Winner of Flagship of the Year 2011 and awarded £1,000 from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

  • 1996/7

    The Heritrage Lottery Fund awarded £25,900 for restoration work

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

More like this

Glad Tidings

Fifie built 1897 by Weir, James, Arbroath

Reaper - in the Caledonian Canal with Ben Nevis - May 2009 (Photo comp entry)

Fifie built 1901 by Forbes, J & G Ltd, Sandhaven

Kentra being launched

Fifie built 1923 by Fife, William & Son, Fairlie

Isabella Fortuna - in Portsoy, port side image

Fifie built 1890 by Weir, James, Arbroath