Thursday, May 28, 2020

Visitors to Brixham

Brixham in its early days was just a small settlement of farmers who fished as a side-line. Brixham was always overshadowed by the larger town of Dartmouth although Brixham was larger than both Torquay and Paignton. Some of the earliest visitors to Brixham were the monks from Totnes who regularly travelled to St Marys along Monksbridge Road and up into what was then the main town.

The earliest reference to Brixham Fishing is a mentioned by John Leland in 1542. Leland was touring the British Isles listing all the books in libraries and monasteries. He said in his book ‘the west point of Torrebay is caullid Byri: and more than within a mile of this point is a praty town of fischar men  caullid Brixham. (sic)

Brixham ‘hit the headlines’ in 1688 when Prince William landed his fleet here. It is not necessary to go into detail as this is has always been contentious and surrounded by folklore needless to say the fact was he did land at Brixham and was hailed as the return of democracy to the country.

It was during the reign of George III that the Member of Parliament for Middlesex was to become a thorn in the side of both George and of Parliament itself. John Wilkes was described as a radical and campaigner for a free press, although, how much of his campaigning was due to this or of just self-promotion? He was a member of the notorious ‘Hellfire Club’ who met regularly for nights of sin and debauchery.  At this time it was still treasonous to publish criticisms of the monarch or his advisors in 1771 he forced Parliament to give the press the right to publish Parliamentary debates verbatim. On the 20th August 1772, during his travels of the West Country, he found himself climbing the Kings steps in Brixham and comments;

At last we made Brixham-quay, in Torbay, the place where King William landed…..I was ready to fall on my knees on the sacred spot; and could scarcely leave the holy steps on which he landed to rescue a wretched people from slavery and the Stuarts. I was provoked to find no pyramid, obelisk, nor the least public memorial, on such a spot: but I hope the memory of that event is engraven on the hearts of the people; who seem to me, in that part of Devonshire, very staunch to the cause of liberty.

In 1773 Fanny Burney, the novelist, visited Brixham whilst holidaying at Teignmouth. She came by yacht and, having tried in vain to hire horses for the return trip, was obliged to stay over-night in Brixham before going back by sea. Fanny was a writer of satire mainly at the expense of her fellow aristocrats she was very much admired by her male contemporises such as Dr Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Hester Thrale and David Garrick.

Prince William was not the last of the royals to visit Brixham. On 21st July 1828 H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence (soon to become William IV) paid an official visit to Brixham as Lord High Admiral. The Brixham inhabitants presented him with an address of good will, together with a piece of the stone on which William of Orange first set foot when he landed in England. The chip of the stone was contained in a case of Heart of Oak over 800 years old, from the old Totnes Bridge, beautifully lined with velvet.

In the summer of 1969 HM Queen Elizabeth II visited Torbay to review the fleet together with Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The Queen returned in 1988 specifically to visit Brixham as it was the 300th anniversary of the landing of William of Orange. She spent a week in and around Brixham and Torbay.

In 2003 the Duke of Kent visited Brixham to talk to the fundraisers of the Lifeboat institution. The most frequent royal to visit Brixham has been Anne Princess Royal who seems to like the fish hampers she receives. She was here in 2005, 2008, and 2011 and again more recently.

Many of the visitors to Brixham have extended stays here. James Callaghan (becoming Prime-minister and later Lord Callaghan) came to Brixham as a two year old when his father took up the post of coastguard.  He was educated at Furzeham School before they moved back to Portsmouth where James attended Grammar school. His father is buried in St. Mary’s graveyard.

In 1966 there was a phrase uttered that would become known to sports fans for generations to come. That phase was emitted in the last dying moments of the World Cup Final between England and Germany when Kenneth Wolstenholme elated “ They think it’s all over, it is now” as Geoff Hurst slotted in the last goal of the final. Kenneth started his career as a journalist before the Second World War broke out. He enlisted in the RAF and took part in over 100 bombing raids until the end of the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar. There later followed a very long career in sports broadcasting before he retired and moved to Galmpton where he became a respected member of the community and even supporting Torquay United at home games.

I have already documented some of the people who have been given blue plaques on or near New Road. If you are of a certain age you will remember a TV series which started in 1967 and ran until 1973 and launched into stardom many fine actors. A regular character on this series was Desk Sargent Tom Stone played by John Slater. John was already an accomplished actor playing in Shakespeare plays with the likes of Michael Bates, Robert Hardy, Robert Shaw, Jill Bennett and Michael Gwynn. He turned his talents to film and appeared in many classic British movies including ‘Went the Day Well’, ‘Passport to Pimlico ‘and ‘The Million Pound Note’. In 1960 John came to Brixham to film ‘The Devils Pass’ (his son Rodger also had a small part). The film is entirely filmed in Brixham and children from the Brixham Orphan Boys Home are involved. John and his wife Betty fell in love with Brixham and bought a holiday home here in Westcliffe Terrace. In 1972 John learned that the Brixham Theatre was to be turned into a Bingo Hall, he stepped in and leased the theatre to produce his own series of summer shows despite failing health. John continued to campaign against the closure suggesting improvements and better advertising. John unfortunately died in 1975.  

Another Blue plaque recipient was Flora Thompson born in 1876 author of the ‘Candleford’ collection of novels. She was one of ten children born to Albert and Emma in a small hamlet in Oxfordshire. In 1898 she went to work in a post office in Grayshot, Hampshire. It was here she rubbed shoulders with some literary giants who were among her customers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Bernard Shaw being just two of many. She had a few small books of poems published but it wasn’t until 1939 that the first of the Candleford books was published. In 1940 she came to Brixham and bought her final home ‘Lauriston’ in New Road, Brixham. It was here she finished the Candleford collection. She also purchased 32 Bolton Street probably as an investment. Flora died on the 21st June 1947.

Martin Smith

The Brixham Fruit Schooners

            For a very brief period in the late 18th century and into the 19th century the fruit schooners of Brixham sailed the seas. A fact overlooked or unknown for many people because it’s always overshadowed by the vast and better documented history of the fishermen. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 opened the doors for importing food and goods from abroad. The people of Great Britain no longer had to spend all their wages on bread to survive due to the artificially high price of grain that the Corn Laws were there to maintain for the well healed landowners. People now had spare money to diversify their culinary needs and the schooners were there to make it happen.

            It is possible that the fruit schooner evolved because of the fishing trade carried on by Brixham in Newfoundland where salted cod were bought back for markets in Britain and around the Mediterranean. The trading vessels, after taking their cargoes of fish to markets in the Med, would then bring back quantities of fresh fruit rather than coming back empty. The trade started to take off in its own right and the schooner became adopted in that field of trade. By 1846, 245 schooners had been built or registered in Brixham. Over 130 schooners were built or registered at Brixham over a 35 year period between 1846 and around 1880 before the age of steam made them obsolete. The average schooner was not a large vessel, although they were three or four times the tonnage of a normal fishing sloop, the tonnage varied between 90 and 150. Its small size, in comparison to the size of most cargo vessels, was down to the size of the ports they had to sail into and the actual cargo they had to carry. It was rare to find any of these schooners that carried more than 150 tons, anymore and the weight of the cargo would have been self-ruinous. The schooners very existence depended on getting from A to B as quickly as possible before the fruit started to degrade and become unsalable. Basil Greenhill describes the sailing capabilities of the schooners in all conditions in his book in which he states:-

‘Since their voyages were out of the zones of constant wind, they had to be able to cope with every point of sailing as nearly as possible equally well. For such requirements, the topsail schooner is best suited. With their yards forward (and, with royal, topgallant, deep topsail, huge flying square sail, and topmast and lower studding-sails, some of these small fruit schooners carried an immense area of square canvas) they could sail off the wind as well as any square-rigged ship of their size of perhaps much larger, and yet they could give that square-rigged ship a point or more in sailing on the wind. Moreover, they lost no time in the restricted waters at either end of their passages

            The repeal of the Corn Laws gave the average person more of a disposable income. This was the impetus for the schooners to choose to concentrate on the fruit trade and not to have it merely as a side trade. All the boats were small enough to not need more than 5 or 6 crew to sail them and being small meant the cost and risk could be kept to a minimum and spread over more boats rather than relying on one large boat. Merchants would not risk cargoes on vessels that were not classed by Lloyds. Generally boats that ‘fell out of class’ due to age or disrepair stopped working in the deep water trade and went into the home market of short haul local cargoes.

            The fruit trade began to grow with more areas open to the trader. By 1854, sixty million oranges were imported for the London market alone and some fifteen million lemons. The short season, December to May, boats would be traveling from the Azores and Lisbon with their citric loads. At other time mixed fruit from all around the Mediterranean from grapes to melons. With the hold of the schooners being quite restricted, it had the advantage of artificially maintaining a reasonable price for the cargo whereas if the fruit had been delivered by larger vessels, especially if arriving one after another, it might have flooded the market. Dried fruit tended to be handled by larger vessels as the time delay was not so important or risky. New areas opened and by 1842 onwards pineapples from the West Indies were being bought by schooners in large quantities with 200,000 arriving for the London market in 1854.

            The crew had to be extra vigilant in the care of the cargo due to its perishable nature. Regular inspections had to be carried out and any rotten fruit removed before it could sully the rest of the consignment. Deck hatches were opened where possible to aid ventilation of the fruit. Large bonuses were paid to Captains that bought cargoes back with no wastage. Different cargoes were carried on the outward journey but none that would possibly contaminate or dirty the hold for the return leg with the fruit.

            London, Southampton, Liverpool and Bristol were the main ports to discharge the cargos with a duty of 33d to be paid on each crate regardless of any rotting fruit. With the fruit season being so short there was always great competition to land the first cargo of fruit in November. A small schooner called ‘Quiver’ with a London owner outstripped her rivals at the start of one season. When she arrived home they were paying 3 guineas per box of fruit and was sold out within six hours. When the rest of the boats came in the price had dropped to as low as 4s. 6d a box.  The schooners were renowned for their speed and there were reports that a ship based in Salcombe, the Elinor, made the trip to the Azores and back again to London in 17 days. It was also estimated that the ‘Susan Vittery’ , a Brixham owned schooner, must have achieved speeds of a 170 miles per day to have completed two round trips to and from London, including the time spent in ports, in six weeks. 

            The Azores had taken over as the main supplier of fruit by the end of the Napoleonic war and Sao Miguel had been anglicized to St Michael’s and the street sellers cry became ‘ripe St Michael’s’ but few probably knew where St Michaels was.

            As the Azores became the main supplier of fruit for the British market, merchants began to take up permanent residence there rather than making the journey out there at the beginning of every season to buy and supervise the loading of fruit. An inn at Ponta Delgada, owned by an Englishman called Mason, became the headquarters ashore of the masters of the schooners and were put up there for a charge of a dollar a day in the late eighteen thirties.

            The owners of the schooners read like the great and good of Brixham with dynastic intent prevailing throughout the period. Families like the Drew’s, Baddeley’s, Matthew’s, Bartlett’s, Upham’s and Green’s to name but a few. These families were influential in Brixham and ownership of the schooners passed through the generations and shares were offered to family members as a matter of course. The web of dynastic intent was further embroiled as marriages between the ‘well to do’ families were common and double and treble barrelled names were used to denote heritage.

            As with the fishing boats the schooners were divided into 64 shares and sold as such. For example in 1847 ‘Racer’ a schooner of 155 tonnes built at the Daniel Dewdney Matthews yard whose shares was as follows: Chas. Brooking was down as having 28 shares, Brooking was mentioned in the census as a ship-owner but was in fact a doctor in Fore Street, and his son had 4 shares. His son was also a doctor working with his father. Sam Dewdney Matthews, son of the builder of the boat, had 14 shares. John Shears had also 14 shares with Phillip Sims Pater holding the last 4 shares, and being ships master was good incentive to do well on future voyages. The Dewdney Matthews were the result of marriage between two boat building families, the Dewdneys, who had their yard in King Street and the Mathews who operated out of Fishcombe Cove.


            Of the 134 schooners built or registered in Brixham between 1846 and 1880, a total of 53 were either wrecked or lost at sea. Maybe the boats and crew were deemed expendable or the pressure put on masters to get the perishable produce back and fit for market forced the masters to take huge risks with the weather or sailing conditions. 1876 saw the last two schooners to come out of the Brixham yards. The ‘Mistletoe’ out of J Upham’s yard for a price of £2380 and the ‘Silver Sea’ out of Barters yard at the breakwater. The ‘Mistletoe’ was converted to a Brig two years later and, it can be argued, the Silver Sea did not meet the schooner criteria because of its weight of 187 tons and the fact it had 3 masts. By 1870 the number of schooners had started to decline and boats were being sold either for local haulage or diverted to other areas of trade where speed was not so critical.

             The coming of the steam ship had, until this time, been forestalled with the traders not wishing cargoes of fruit being contaminated with what they perceived as a dirty method of propulsion, but progress is inevitable. In 1883 the ‘Torbay Steamship Co.’ was formed and they took ownership of a 1414 ton steamer tug from John Blumer and Company of Sunderland. The manager of the Torbay Company was Peter Varwell who, up until this point, had been a major investor in the fruit schooners. In 1884 the ‘Brixham SS Co. Ltd. received their first steamer schooner which they named the ‘Brixham.’ The age of the wooden built Fruit Schooner had reached its end. In 1881 there was a sudden plunge in the boat numbers from 48 boats to just 5.It seemed that word of the coming of steam had reached Torbay, steam had once again been the demise of part of Brixham’s maritime industry and happening at roughly the same time as the slowing down of the fishing industry, heralding hard times ahead for the people of Brixham.

Excerpt from a book ‘A Town for Sail’ by Martin Smith

Monday, May 18, 2020

Museum Blue Plaque

At the doors of the museum there is a blue plaque referring to a time when the building was the town police station and to one man that had a big impact at a time the town needed it the most Sergeant Alfred Mock.

Excerpt taken from ‘Take Cover’ written by Edward Trist
Sergeant 284 Alfred Mock
Born in 1893, his tenacity was first displayed when he walked to London from his North Devon home in order to join the Coldstream Guards. At that time he was aged just 18 and soon proved to be an outstanding soldier, being selected three times to be escort for the Colour at the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony. After completing his service he left the army to join the Exeter City Police.

In August 1914, with the outbreak of war, he was recalled by the army, and became a member of the British Expeditionary Force, sneeringly referred to by the Kaiser as the ‘contemptible little army’. He suffered all the hardships and horror of trench warfare, serving with distinction until 1919, when he returned to the Exeter police force. 

In the following year he transferred to the Devon Constabulary, later being promoted, and in 1933 was posted as officer in charge of the Brixham Station, living with his family on the station. Like many of his contemporaries, his experiences, his time and his skills were fully utilised, resulting in him rarely being out of uniform. With his serving constables, aided by the recalled war reserves, and the contingents of special constables (for whom he had the highest regard), Sergeant Mock covered a vital area containing fuel instillations, torpedo boat yards and other potential targets for the enemy.

Following Dunkirk, he recruited and registered suitable men for the Local Defence Volunteers (L.D.V.), then just a token force pathetically ‘armed’ with truncheons (a lucky few carried their own, or a borrowed shotgun) and with their only uniform being an LDV armband.

It was at this time that Sergeant Mock received a message: “Possible enemy invasion within 24 hours”. He entered in the station log: “Firearm drawn to repel invasion”, and, armed with a 1914.45revolver, jocularly remarked to his son: “If they do land, my filing system will baffle ‘em”.

The war years demanded the shouldering of ever increasing responsibilities, and, with Brixham a designated restricted area with masses of troops contained therein, rumours were rife. It was at this crucial time that Sergeant Mock learned that, in nearby Churston, American troops were gambling, using French bank notes. He realised that this could only mean that the long-awaited invasion day was imminent. Fearing the possible infiltration into the village by ‘fifth columnists’, Sergeant Mock took it upon himself to close Churston, keeping villagers ‘out of circulation’ with their vital information.

A memory that remained with him for the rest of his life was the night on which he and his son stood on an ordinarily isolated crossroads as numerous, probably thousands of, invasion troops passed them en route to the landing craft, waiting to take them across the Channel to take part in one of the greatest invasions in the history of warfare.

Standing with memories of his own soldiering days, the suffering, the loss of comrades etched in his mind, he knew only too well what lay ahead of these marching men. To them, with husky voice, he repeatedly said: “Good luck boys”. From some groups there was no reply; from others he received assurances: “We’ll finish the job this time, Sarg”.
Fearing the toll that would be taken from these men before they did ‘finish the job’, he unashamedly shed silent tears in the darkness of the night. 

Edward Trist finishes by saying that “I well remember Sergeant Mock of Brixham at our divisional pay parades when I was a probationer at Paignton in 1938. My everlasting memory of him was that he was ever-smiling and jocular”.

Compiled by Martin Smith

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Wartime memories

                        Remembers… … …
     ‘I went to school at Furzeham and vividly remember being outside on the Green, when German bombers came over, machine gunning all the children. I must have been about 10 years old. We all laid flat on the grass. When I got up after the raid, they had sunk the coal hulk at the Harbour and I saw smoke coming up from it. The Germans later reported that a warship had been sunk!
     One Sunday, I was walking from Berry Head House up a lane (that now leads to Wall Park Road) with Mother and my sister, Nancy, when the sirens sounded. An ARP warden told us: ‘Get down’ and Mother pushed Nancy and I into the hedge. We were wearing our Sunday clothes and Nancy was concerned that her stockings would be spoiled as we took cover. The bombers were making for the oil tanks that were concealed underground at Berry Head. When the ‘All Clear’ sounded, we saw a mound of earth where an enemy mine had been dropped in the field next to the tanks, which was properly blown up the following day.
     I remember the U.S. troops billeted at Monksbridge under canvas. When the weather was bad they were flooded out. They had a lot of vehicles and I remember several houses in Brixham being demolished to make way for them. I particularly remember the houses being pulled down where Churchill Gardens now stands. Mr Jackson, the butcher, had to move out. He moved to another house near Grenville House, further along the road. The Americans also demolished Miss Watts’ shop at the bottom of Ranscombe Road, where we bought ice cream, so that they could get the tanks round. She moved to Berry Head Road. We lived in New Road and one evening, my grandfather was locking the house for the night, when he heard movements and told us: ‘Something is going on tonight’. It was the soldiers and tanks going to the Harbour for D Day.
     My father William (Bill) Goouch was a fisherman and served in the RNR. He had already served in the Great War and was called up again a week before war broke out in 1939. He spent time on minesweepers and was mentioned in despatches. After the war, he worked on the Western Lady ferries. I went to train as a hairdresser at Dorothy Dean’s in Paignton, near the Bus Station, coming home to Brixham in the middle of each day, as it was cheaper to get a 6d workman’s fare, than pay for lunch in a cafĂ©. As there wasn’t much traffic, I was able to travel home, eat a meal and then go back to Paignton on the returning bus, all within an hour! On one occasion, there was terrible flooding in Brixham and Mother told me that I wouldn’t be able to come home from work at the end of the day, as even the back of the house was cut off! I had to stay with the salon manageress, who had a flat in Victoria Street in Paignton.’

Rona has three daughters and several grandchildren, and still lives in Brixham.

                      IRIS MILLS
     Many evacuees from the London Blitz arrived at Brixham during 1940 and 1941; among them were Iris, Norma, Ernie and Colin Wickenden from Deptford.

     ‘We travelled from London with Rosie and Tommy Dodd, who also lived in Deptford, and Albert Williams from Rotherhithe. As I was the eldest, I was put in charge of them during the journey. Joyce Pither was another girl who was evacuated with us. We were friends.
     After arriving at Churston Railway Station, we were taken to Brixham Town Hall, where we were chosen by householders, who would provide a home for us. Joyce went to live with a family above a greengrocer’s shop on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road. Ernie, Colin and I were taken to live nearby in Anzac House, which had been used for the convalescence of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand during the First World War and later became the Cottage Hotel. We lived with Mr and Mrs Perrett, their son, Reg and daughters, Maud and Doris. Reg was a milkman and he was very well liked.
     I went to the National School and remember a boy in my class, Johnny Braddick, although they used to call him ‘Snowy’, as he had very fair hair. He was a friend of Bill Hickey, an older boy at the Orphan Boys’ Home, who used to march the boys to All Saints’ Church.
     I can remember the bombing raids on Brixham. On one occasion, the coal hulk was sunk. Another time, Norma and I were walking at the Harbour, while a boat was launched from Upham’s Yard. We were machine-gunned by a German plane and a Belgian fisherman jumped off a trawler and pushed us to the ground, saving our lives, as the bullets landed next to us on the ground.
     We all returned to Deptford after three years. I joined the Women’s Land Army and later married, and moved to Kent. Some years after the evacuation, I was in Canterbury and saw a picture of a young marine with his wife and baby in a photographer’s shop window. It was the same boy from the Orphan Boys’ Home – Bill Hickey. I later saw him come into the Co-op in Canterbury, where I worked for many years, but we never spoke. Thirty years later, my daughter, Marion, married and went to live in Australia. Before she left, we went out for a meal in a pub, where we saw Bill Hickey again and Marion spoke to him. It turned out that he worked for her father-in-law, who was a butcher and she drove him round to deliver the meat! Bill now lives in the village next to mine in Kent.’

     Iris has two daughters and remains living in Kent. She has travelled extensively in 35 countries, but still visits Brixham several times each year.

Sly Boots

As we all know Fishing is a very dangerous profession, more so in the 19th century. This is just one account taken from the Dartmouth Chronicle in January of 1881.
‘The rumour of last week, as to the probable loss of the fishing ketch ‘Sly Boots’ with her crew, numbering 5 in all, is now but too apparent, and all hopes of any intelligence being received of her or her crew are totally abandoned, both by the relatives and townsfolk generally. The affair cast a gloom throughout the town, as the whole of the crew belong here. The names are Richard Barnes, aged 34 Master and owner;         (having only recently purchased her) he leaves a widow and three children. Daniel Ward, Mate, aged 30 leaves a wife and four small children-this unfortunate man came home from Ramsgate only three months ago. An apprentice named Samuel Parnell, a native of Torquay. Harry Howe, a son of the wife of the Master by her first husband. George Cle, an apprentice on trial, a native of Brixham. The Sad occurrence has been painfully felt throughout the town, as many hundreds of families are connected with the fishing trade and liable to the same bereavement. The ‘Sly Boots’ was insured in the Brixham Fishing Smack Insurance Society for £250.’

A rather spooky follow up to this was also reported;
On the same night as the ‘Sly Boots’ was lost Mrs Barnes the wife of the owner, dreamed that she was standing on a rock, and saw a steamer run into the boat, and that she screamed to her husband, “Richard save the boy” meaning her son Harry Howe. Another mysterious incident is also mentioned. At 6 o’clock in the morning, a few hours after the dream, Osman Barnes, a boy of 7 years came into his mother’s bedroom, and asked for his father, for as he told his mother, he knew he was home, for he distinctly heard him come up the steps with his sea boots on, and kick the door……and after he came in the clock struck 3. The singular coincidence of this incident with her own dream, which was so startling in its apparent reality, that she could not rid herself of the thought that some accident had befallen her husband and son, so alarmed the poor woman, that immediately after she got up she told the circumstances to a neighbour, who tried to reassure her by treating the matter as mere fancy. As the narration of the incident took place in the morning, no intelligence of the disaster was bought until night, and the boat was not overdue, as she was not expected home, there seems no natural explanation of the mystery.

The week ending the 28th of January 1881 an inquest took place at the Sutton Harbour Inn, North Quay, Plymouth, into the death of Daniel Ward, a fisherman, of Brixham. This is the account that was reported;
Louise May Ann Ward, wife of the deceased, stated that he was a fisherman of the trawler Sly Boots, which left Brixham harbour on 3rd January last, and had not been heard of since. The deceased was 30 years of age, and the body which she had seen at the mortuary was that of her husband. William Moxey, captain of the trawler Sparkling Wave, stated that he had known the deceased for some time, and had sailed with him. 

On  3rd January the steamship Compton put into Dartmouth to coal, and the captain reported having been in collision with a trawler twenty miles north-east of the Start, which had sunk, and he thought all hands were lost. The captain of the steamer further stated that he could not see anything but heard some screaming, and he afterwards lowered a boat, which was pulled about the spot but nothing could be found. After reporting this at Dartmouth the steamer proceeded on her voyage. Witness was in his ketch on Tuesday morning about 15 miles N.N.E. of the Eddystone, and as they were hauling in the trawl he saw the legs of a human body. He called to some of his crew and they got into the trawl and lifted the body into the boat. He examined the clothing, and on looking at the stockings he found the initial “D.W” marked. He was quite positive it was the body of Daniel Ward, because having sailed with him he knew his build and height. After examining the body he had it wrapped in sail, and came back to Plymouth and handed the body over to Inspector Damarell. The Coroner said there could be no doubt that the body found was that of Daniel Ward, who left Brixham in the Sly Boots but whether she was the trawler which the steamer Compton ran into they had no evidence to show, and he thought their safest plan would be to return an open verdict of found drowned. The Jury after a short consultation returned a verdict as directed.

Sometimes good things can happen due to bad events occurring, or maybe this is just ironic. Some six weeks after the sinking of the Sly Boots a report was published it goes as follows;
Lights for Fishing Vessels
The Committee appointed by the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and the Trinity House, to consider the Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea, upon the recommendations contained in Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Lights for fishing vessels, have agreed to the following recommendations:-
1) That all fishing vessels, when not actually fishing and attached to their nets, trawls or lines should be required to carry and show the same lights as other vessels under similar circumstances.
2) That a drift net fishing vessels, when fishing and attached to her nets should carry 2 white lights to show not less than 3 miles, to be visible all round, the horizon, to be 6 feet in vertical height one above the other, but not necessarily one immediately over the other.
3) That a trawling vessel when at work should carry 2 lights both to show 2 miles all around the horizon- the red light to be at the mast head forward of and, at least, 6 feet in vertical height above the white light.
4) That a trawling vessel with her gear fast shall show the same light as a vessel at anchor.
5) That a decked fishing vessel not exceeding 20 tons shall carry the same lights as open fishing and other boats.
It would be nice to think that legislation was bought in because of the loss of the Sly Boots but January of 1881 saw some of the worst conditions of hurricane force storms and the loss of many boats due to collisions.