Amy Howson – Working History

Built at Beverley in 1914 by Joseph Scarr & Sons for George Robert Scaife of Beverley, rigged as a keel and named SOPHIA after his wife. She was used for general cargoes including grain to Sheffield and other canal wharves, carrying coal back to Hull and Beverley. She was built to what is known as Sheffield size, 61ft-6ins (18.75m) long, 15ft-6ins (4.72m) beam to allow her to get as far as Sheffield canal basin and  with extra depth in the hold to allow her to carry the maximum cargo while still having briggage under Bacon Lane bridge (the lowest bridge above the Tinsley flight of locks).

In 1915 she was sold to Ernest Wright who had the keel rig taken out. SOPHIA was re-rigged as a sloop at Clapsons shipyard at Barton, using a reduced rig from the sloop SUCCESS. She was used for shoring work in the lower Humber (carrying stone for river bank repairs) in company with GLEANER (later renamed MADGE JARVILL).

Sold to Goldthorpe, Scott and Wright of Grimsby in 1920, she was put on the Part 1 Register of British Ships to enable her to be mortgaged as security for a bank loan. Given the Official Number 14080 and with her name changed to I KNOW, she carried market goods and parcels between Pickwells Wharf, Grimsby, and Hull. The business did not pay well and Barclays Bank, the mortgage lenders, repossessed I KNOW.

William Henry Barraclough, a sloop and lighter owner of Morpeth Street, bought her in 1922. He re-registered her at Hull and changed the name to AMY HOWSON. Madge Jarvill and Amy Howson were the new owner’s married daughters.

AMY HOWSON was registered in 1923 with the Port Health Authority as required by the Port Health Act, and the register shows that she was permitted to accommodate a maximum of two adults and three children in the aft cabin, and two adults in the fore cabin. Her cargoes now included phosphate for the chemical works at Barton and Howden Dyke, and she was also a regular visitor to the Yarborough Oil Mills at Brigg, delivering cargoes of maize or oil seed.

The aft cabin on AMY HOWSON was reputed to be the finest on the river, the grain in the varnished woodwork having been carefully matched with brass work all around. Joe Barraclough, son of the owner, was skipper until he left to captain the larger Sloop MINNIE in 1933,  at the same time Len Barraclough left MADGE JARVILL to captain AMY HOWSON.

An incident in AMY HOWSON’s working life recalled by Ken Straw (son of the lock keeper):

“On the evening of February 25 1935 AMY HOWSON was expected at Ferriby Sluice from Hull on the way to Brigg with a cargo of seed for the Farmers Co Ltd. The lock keeper had left the lock ready for her arrival, but with a strong northerly breeze blowing straight into the haven, a rising tide and in full sail, AMY’s crew would need to drop the sails and the mate get a rope on as she ran into the lock. Those who have sailed a Sloop will know that this meant several well timed operations and some very fast “nipping about” by both captain and mate, all to take place in about 100 yards and in the dark too! About 7 p.m. there was a tap on the lock keepers door, the door opened and in walked the captain of AMY HOWSON, Len Barraclough. He was rather upset and, before the lock keeper could speak, said: “I’ve hit the bridge and knocked a damn great piece out!” His mate had missed the bollard. Visibly shaken, the lock keeper leapt out of his chair, grabbed his jacket and torch and dashed for the door closely followed by Len. AMY was now lying clear of the bridge with a stop rope on, and in the light of the lock keepers torch a piece, some six feet long and 18 inches high, was missing from the outer girder of the cast iron bridge. A torrent of insults were exchanged between lock keeper and captain during a careful examination of the damage, after which it was declared safe to swing the bridge and pen AMY down into the Ancholme. Next morning AMY was away to Brigg, before the lock keeper could find any more to say on the subject. Later the bits of cast iron girder were recovered from the lock and the damaged repaired by an engineer from Marshalls of Gainsborough. The outcome of this incident was that Lindsey County Council decided the bridge was no longer fit to take the ever-increasing road traffic and took over the task of providing a bridge at Ferriby Sluice. Later that year the old cast iron bridge, which had given 92 years of trouble-free service, was replaced by a new steel bridge, which ironically, never worked satisfactorily!”

In 1939 ownership transferred to W H Barraclough (Hull) Ltd, the aft cabin was taken out to allow a 3-cylinder 30hp Ailsa Craig diesel engine to be installed, the forward bulkhead was moved aft to give more room in the fore cabin and the sloop rig was removed.

The Ailsa Craig engine was taken out in 1953 and a 30hp Lister diesel installed. This meant moving the aft bulkhead one frame space into the hold to enlarge the engine room.

In the 1970’s patterns of trade changed in Hull with a big increase in use of road transport. The major factor against her continued use though, was company take-overs and amalgamations, and in 1973 AMY HOWSON was laid up near Hennebiques wharf in the Old Harbour to await a decision on her future.

In 1975 the Society Sloop Committee were on lookout for a suitable vessel and this is where our story begins…

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