Reader adds to history of fishing tragedies

Celia Craig has e-mailed a response to a recent Gable Ender item by Forbes Inglis, ‘Charity Fund For Relatives of Lost Gourdon Fishermen’, which quoted a fund-raising poem.

She wrote: “I was very interested in the article, primarily because I was already familiar with the poem itself and with many of the details quoted by Forbes Inglis in the report.

In 2013 the Maggie Law Maritime Museum Poetry Anthology was launched to raise funds for the Gourdon Museum, an anthology I had researched and compiled in response to a request from the museum’s director, Dave Ramsay. It comprises 44 poems largely by Gourdon people, past and present or by others from nearby villages, about Gourdon and the lives of its residents, from 1850 to the present.

A major section is entitled ‘Lost at Sea’, focusing on the disasters and tragedies besetting the fishing families.

I included the poem, ‘The Storm’, concerning the loss of the ‘Mayflower’, featured in the Review article among the 12 poems on this theme, followed by another entitled ‘In Sweet Remembrance of Our Dear Son, David Anderson, who was drowned in Gourdon Harbour on 17 August, 1921, aged 12 years’ (Jeanie Leask).

It would be fair to identify the J.L. Gourdon author, quoted at the end of ‘The Storm’ with the Jeanie Leask of the ‘Sweet Remembrance’ poem. I had assumed that she was the author of both poems. Her name is still known to older Gourdon residents.

Another aspect which I found fascinating personally concerns another fishing disaster two years previous to the ‘Mayflower’. This must be the loss of my great grandfather, Alexander Mowatt’s, family boat, the ‘Morning Light’ which foundered in a sudden gale on October 22, 1909, with the loss of the whole crew, four brothers. There are three poems in the Anthology about this tragic event.

The details of the ‘Mayflower’ tragedy were already known to me from Roy Souter’s book, ‘Call Out’, Roy’s transcription of the Service Records of the Gourdon Lifeboats, 1878 - 1969.

This book, administered by the Maggie Law Museum, gives details of the call out of the ‘Theophilus Sidney Echalaz’, the lifeboat which succeeded the ‘Young George Irlam’ in 1892.

A final footnote was added when a friend and former Gourdon man, John Ritchie, now of Montrose, supplied the names of the progenitors of the Ritchie family as John Ritchie and Isabella Freeman of 1782.

Copies of my Anthology are still available from the Museum and I have provided an extended version with additional poems and details, photos and documents on the Maggie Law website -