CK 41 - HILDEGARD
Capt. James Simons & Hildegard
Born in Rowhedge in 1839 James Simons was typical of the oyster dredgermen and fishermen of the Colne and owner of the smack Hildegard. Apprenticed to his father at a young age James was admitted to the Colne as a licensed oyster dredger in 1861 following the family tradition which stretched back to the 1640s.
The above photo belonged to his great-grandson Eric Simons and shows James and one of his sons with a party of day-trippers on his smack Hildegard. A good article describing such a trip can be found in the section for Lemon Cranfield's smack 86CK Neva.
James Simons occasionally entered Hildegard in the smack races at local regattas but she was no match for the likes of Neva and Elise.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES - HILDEGARD
Colchester - Fishing Boats, 1887-1898, BT 145, Piece 682
Hildegard: Class II (2); Registration No. 41, Ship's Official No. (left blank); Tonnage: 11; Date of Registry: 31 Mar 1880
From 1894 all previously unregistered fishing vessels were given a number (41 in the case of the Hildegard) and letters to identify their ports of registry. The curious choice of CK as the port letters for Colchester is widely acknowledged to be a transcription error as the first and last letters of a port's name were normally used... mistaking the R for a looped K. The Victorians were obsessive record and ledger keepers but with official documents having to be copied and re-copied by hand errors were certain to occur. Those who have decided it could stand for Colchester Creek or Colne Creek (where they?) have surely had a pint or two too many in the Albion!. There was no other port beginning with a "C" and ending with an "R" so CK makes no sense.
Hildegard was the only vessel of this name registered at Colchester and the following references all relate to her. In all instances she is recorded as being a Class II (2) vessel of 11 tons. The following abbreviations denote the nature of her employment.
Order of information presented: Date of Endorsement, Nature of Employment & number of men & boys to work boat.
Colchester, Fishing Boats, 1893-1898, BT 145, Piece 1, Date of Registry 31 Mar 1880 (first date is the date of Endorsement)
4 Dec 1893, Dredging for Oysters & All trawling except for shrimps, 3 men & boys to work boat
19 Dec 1894, Fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
20 Jul 1895, Fishing with nets & Dredging for Oysters, 3 men & boys to work boat
25 Nov 1896, Fishing with nets & Dredging for Oysters, 3 men & boys to work boat
22 Nov 1897, Fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
19 Aug 1898, Fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
BT 145, Piece 12,
Colchester, Registration No as a fishing boat: 29, BT 145, Piece 12, Date of Registry 31 Mar 1880, Register & folio 1-199
28 Dec 1899, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
10 Oct 1901 (for 1900), Fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
30 Dec 1901, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
5 Dec 1902, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
27 Nov 1903, Fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
BT 145, Piece 23
21 Nov 1904, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 2 men & boys to work boat
27 Nov 1905, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
15 Dec 1906, Fishing with nets & dredging for oysters, 3 men & boys to work boat
25 Nov 1907, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
19 Nov 1908, Fishing for shrimp & fishing with nets, 3 men & boys to work boat
BT 145, Piece 33
25 Nov 1909, Fishing for shrimps & all trawling except for shrimps, 3 men & boys to work boat
28 Nov 1910, Fishing for shrimps, all trawling except for shrimps & dredging for oysters, 3 men & boys to work boat
10 Nov 1911, Fishing for shrimps & all trawling except for shrimps, 3 men & boys to work boat
25 Nov 1912, Fishing for shrimps & all trawling except for shrimps, 3 men & boys to work boat
2 Dec 1913, Fishing for shrimps & all trawling except for shrimps, 3 men & boys to work boat
BT 145, Piece 57 (tonnage changes to 13.32)
20 Nov 1914, all trawling except for shrimps, 2 men & boys to work boat
31 Dec 1915, dredging for oysters, 3 men & boys to work boat
13 Dec 1916, "NIL"
29 Dec 1917, "NIL"
8 Jan 1919 "for 1918," "NIL 31 Dec 1920 BROKEN UP"
BT 145, Piece 205
Register number as a fishing boat: 41; Class 2; Date of Registry: 31 Mar 1880; Register & folio: 4 - 120; Gross tonnage: 13.32; Date of endorsement: 31 Dec 1919, Unemployed; "CANCELLED 31 Dec 1920, Broken Up.
ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 25 July 1885 p.5 - “A FISHERMAN DROWNED OFF CLACTON - The smack Hildegarde, of East Donyland, owned by James Simons, and manned by himself and two of his sons, was, on Thursday evening, the 16th, brought up off Clacton. It appears that Thomas Simons, a young fellow of 22, was ashore with his father, and got into the boat to go after some fish that had been left on board the smack; as he was gone some time, the father went to the beach to look for him, and saw the boat floating with no one in her. His suspicions being aroused, he searched for some time, but in vain. On Thursday morning, the 23rd, the father received a telegram saying the body was found on the beach at St. Osyth.
On Wednesday, the dead body of a man, aged about 20, about 5 feet, 6 or 7 inches high, stout, dressed as a sailor, blue guernsey, was found washed ashore on the beach of St. Osyth, and was removed to the dead house, at the cemetery, St. Osyth, to await an inquest yesterday (Friday). It is supposed he is the man, Thos. Simons, from Rowhedge, a sailor, that had been missing since Thursday, the 16th inst.
It appears that the deceased and his father had taken a contract this summer to supply the Clacton houses with shrimps, and this accounts for the smack being at Clacton. They used to go down on Monday mornings, and come home on Saturday night. It appears that the day this happened they had been out fishing, and returning to Clacton in the evening, had come on shore. Some gentlemen asked the elder Simons if he had no fish, as they should like some. His reply was that he had some on board, the deceased, who was 21 (sic) years of age, left to return to the smack, which was moored just off the pier, to fetch the fish, getting into the boat which they had just rowed ashore in. He returned to the smack, his father watching him all the while from the shore where he stood. He saw him reach the side of the smack and throw the painter on board, a rope used to fasten the boat to a smack. He also noticed him climb on board, and that was the last that he saw of his son alive. The father supposes that not making the rope fast when he got on board he saw his boat drifting away from the smack, and he jumped from the smack to the boat, and in doing so hit his head on the gunwale of the boat. This would have rendered him insensible, and he would have sunk to rise no more. The boat afterwards drifted to shore, but there was no fish in it, nor was there any on board the smack. The deceased’s purse was laying upon the locker.”
ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 1 August 1885 - “THE CASE OF DROWNING OFF CLACTON - On Friday the 24th an inquest was held at the Red Lion Inn, St. Osyth, before Mr. J. Harrison, jun., Coroner, touching the death of Thomas Wm. Simons, of East Donyland, sailor, whose body was found washed up on the beach, St. Osyth, on Wednesday the 22nd inst. The principal witness was David Salter, coastguardsman, who said he knew the deceased. On Thursday the 16th inst. he saw the deceased go on the pier at Clacton-on-Sea and he appeared to be all right. He was going to a fishing smack which was lying at a distance off the pier, a short time after he heard some one call Tom which turned out to be the father of deceased calling his son who he said had gone to the smack for a fish. The boat was under the pier but Tom was not to be found. Witness next saw the father in the smack’s boat, which was entangled under the cross beams of the pier partly filled with water, after bailing it out the father with others left the pier in the boat. The night was rather dark and in witness’s opinion the deceased did not go to the smack, but fell from the pier or boat and was stunned. If he had called out he must have heard him as he was on the pier over where the boat was found.- Dr. Nicholls said he examined the body and found the head swollen and bruised, the right eye protruding. There was a cut on the left eye brow, and the jaw bone appeared to be fractured. His opinion was the wound was inflicted after death. The cause of death was drowning. A verdict of “accidental drowning” was returned.”
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD – Saturday 15 October 1892 - "WYVENHOE & ROWHEDGE REGATTA – Unlike their neighbours at Brightlingsea, the inhabitants of Wyvenhoe and Rowhedge were fortunate in being favoured with real regatta weather on the event of their annual aquatic sports which came off on Tuesday, and the result was an unqualified success.
Handicap Match for Smacks (Shrimpers and Trawlers in commission). Race to be sailed in fishing trim, no borrowed sails, no booming out, no extra hands allowed. Results – Lillie (sic) 2hrs. 54m. 48s; Hildegarde 3hrs. 12m. 16s; Ellen 3hrs. 20m. 18s. Lillie maintained the lead throughout, but the Hildegarde gradually made her way forward, and came in second.”
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - 27 Nov 1964, article by John LEATHER
"The Wallet was a favourite trawling ground of the Rowhedge smacks. One trip Captain Simons' Hildegard trawled with the ebb of the then unspoiled and rural Clacton. His mate spotted a keg floating nearby and brought it aboard where it sat, tight and inviting. They broached it and found rum. As it was a cold day a few nips were in order, and each haul called for further cheer. That evening, the coastguard tramping his beat at Holland Low came on the Hildegard ashore at low water, with all sails set and drawing. The crew were asleep on deck and the trawl spread out astern on the sands with fish still flapping in the cod end."
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD - Saturday 6 January 1917 - “ROWHEDGE - DEATH OF MR. J. SIMONS - Mr. James Simons, a well-known fisherman and smack owner, died on Saturday, December 30. Deceased was 77 years of age, and was a member of the Colne Fishery Company. He had been engaged in fishing from early boyhood and only retired a few months ago, when his strength failed him, but he remained hale and hearty up till a few days of his death.”