More History of the Ceres

When you explore the history of a boat, any boat, you quickly discover you are not the only one interested in her. Ceres was particularly well-known and appreciated by a wide variety of people. The piece below, from the P.S.N.C. Magazine, was written by someone with a far greater call on her than I – the great-grandson of the original owner.

The History of the Ceres.

The Ceres was built at Salcombe, Devon, in 1811 for my great­grandfather, William Lewis, of Bude, Cornwall, for the Spanish-London fruit trade. He went master of her, and during the Peninsular War she was employed carrying stores to the British troops in France, under the Duke of Wellington. On the death of my great-grandfather in 1829 my grandfather, ”his only son,” not 18 years of age, went master of the Ceres, and kept her in the coasting trade until 1855, when he sold her to Captain P. M. Petherick, of Bude, who went master of her. In 1866 he was relieved by his eldest son, Captain W. W. Petherick. In 1884 he was relieved by his brother, Captain Walter Petherick, who retired from the sea in 1930 after being master of the Ceres for 46 years. I have known the Petherick family since my childhood. Finer sailors never walked a ship’s deck.

My grandfather had many souvenirs from the Ceres, including the two old flint lock pistols which his father and the mate carried to shoot Napoleon and his bodyguard if they attempted to board the Ceres; the old horn lantern that was lighted by a tallow candle, made by the crew ; the lantern, the only light, was carried at the bowsprit end when possible, to light the Ceres to glory; the old bull’s horn which was used as a foghorn; also a piece of flint and steel used to strike a light with.

This is one of a number of posts on the Ketch “Ceres”. They are presented in a random order as and when I have found, or been given, new material. If you are interested in maritime history and would like to read more, please use the Search facility on the top right-hand side if this page (‘Ceres’).  If the Search box does not appear on your current screen, then click on ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’ – (or the title of this entry, then ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’), to be taken to the correct page.

3 thoughts on “More History of the Ceres

  1. I have been mindful of this poem for more than 20 years now and it never fails to move me:

    The Ketch Ceres

    A century and a quarter full of change and change had passed
    Since they built her down in Devon, where they mostly built to last,
    And sent her but to earn her keep, at risk of wave and war,
    And dodge the nimble privateer along the Biscay shore.

    And war went out, and peace came in, and time it went and came,
    And brought new changes every year, but to her it brought the same
    The privateers they vanished, and the Indiamen likewise,
    And the first steam kettle trailed her smoke across the affronted skies,

    The tea fleet and the wool fleet, in their turn they had their day,
    She marked them in their beauty as she plied upon her way,
    Their canvas piled like summer clouds….like summer clouds they passed,
    But she was built in Devon – and they build ’em there to last.

    She loaded nuts and oranges, she carried coal and props,
    And bricks and hay and china clay and barley-malt and hops,
    She traded north to Derry and she traded south to Spain,
    And east about to Wells and Lynn and back to Bude again.

    She knew the rips and overfalls from London to the Lizard,
    And once she nearly left her bones off Padstow in a blizzard,
    And when winter fogs were thickest she mostly smelt her way
    By the old familiar sea marks into Bude and Watchet Bay.

    And peace went out and war came in, and forth she went once more,
    To dodge the nimble submarines along the English shore,
    And war went out and peace came in, and still she held together,
    Spite of floating mine and tinfish and the good old English weather,

    She loaded salt and timber, and she carried slate from Wales.
    Cement and corn and cattle cake and paying stones and nails
    She worked her way to Liverpool and down the coast for cloam,
    Across the way to Swansea Bay and then with slag for home.

    But a time it comes to ships and men, when sailing days are past,
    Even such as hail from Devon, where they mostly build to last.
    And her seams began to open and the Severn tide came through,
    And the water kept on gaining spite of all they could do,

    They did their best to beach her, but they couldn’t do no more,
    And foundered at the finish in site of Appledore,
    And her bones’ll never flicker blue on any longshore fire,
    For she’ll lie there and she’ll moulder as any old ship might desire,
    And hear the vessels passing by, and dream about the past,
    And the great old times in Devon, where they built her once to last.
    C. Fox Smith. “Blue Peter” February 1937

  2. Hello Bill.

    My Great Great Grandfather Was the owner of the Ceres, a Captin W Petherick. I read with great joy that there is some souvenirs from the Great ketch and would love to see them. if its at all possible can we make a date to meet up so i can continue my research.
    Many thanks

    Andrew Bird

  3. Pingback: Ceres – a suitable resting place « bill's boatblog

Comments are closed.