The picture on page 90

Ceres of Bude

Re picture on page 90.

The ketch Ceres is said to be the oldest sea-going craft in existence. She was built at Salcombe, Devon, in 1811, and began by trading to Northern Spain, more than once having narrow escapes from French and American privateers. In the years 1818 and 1814 she was employed by Government carrying British military stores in connection with Wellington’s Peninsular War operations, subsequently reverting to her owners and resuming ordinary trading. She first came back to Bude in 1826, and has been in the ownership of her present owners since 1852. She was altered in rig in 1865, and subsequently was cut in two and lengthened by 13 feet, being registered 44 tons and carrying 85 tons. In 1912 she was successfully transformed to a motor ship by the successful installation of a 30 h.p. semi-Diesel engine, which enabled her to keep close to the shore and so avoid the fate of several other coasting vessels sunk by submarines off the North Cornish coast during the Great War. Ceres is still in active commission, having passed her four-year Board of Trade survey in 1930.

(Photo by J. H. Petherick, Belle View, Bude. Sent by Mr. J. W. W. Banbury, Lloyd’s Agent, Bude, Cornwall.)

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.

2 thoughts on “The picture on page 90

  1. Hpe you enjoy this poem:

    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

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