History

The names of all the Marr Fleetwood ships ended in "A" and they were all wet fish trawlers which preserved their catch in crushed ice on two or three week trips except for the Criscilla which typically stayed at sea for six or seven weeks and froze the catch in blocks.

Stern-Fishing vs Sidewinders

Jacinta was a a stern-fishing ship which meant the trawl gear came and went via a ramp in the stern as opposed to the traditional sidewinder method where the gear was operated over the side.

On a sidewinder the crew did all their work in the open air and muscle power was needed to handle the fishing gear although it became a bit more mechanised in later years. The fish had to be gutted and washed on the open deck and the deck crew were often wet through. They were exposed to greater danger on a sidewinder.

The stern trawler needed fewer men on deck to operate the gear. The process was much more automated and mechanised.

Fish was handled below decks in the factory so working conditions were better and safer.

Although it took a long time in the evolution of trawlers to start building stern trawlers it soon became obvious that they were more efficient fish catching machines. The net could be shot and hauled more times in a given period than it could on a sidewinder.

J Marr and Son Ltd

The Marr family has a long association with the port of Fleetwood where they operated a fleet of trawlers for many years and had a fish processing factory under the Junella brand name. They own the current ice factory and cold stores.

J Marr and Son Ltd decided to build a fleet of wet fish stern trawlers for Fleetwood. Jacinta was one of these ships.

She was built on the Tyne by the Small Ships Division of Swan Hunter at Wallsend.

Launched in 1972, Jacinta was an immediate success with Skipper Bill Taylor at the helm. By coincidence, Lionel Marr - now chairman of the Jacinta Charitable Trust - went to Iceland on Jacinta when she sailed from Fleetwood for the first time following her maiden voyage which began in Wallsend.

He shot some cine film which can now be seen onboard as a video.

Preserving Fleetwood's History

With British trawlers excluded from Iceland's 200 mile limit, the future looked bleak for Fleetwood as a fishing port. In 1982 only the Marr ships were left and the company faced heavy dock charges. They switched the fleet to Hull and Jacinta was the last big ship to land in Fleetwood.

Although many small business fish processors left the industry at Fleetwood in those days, fish processing carried on and so did fishing thanks to an expanded fleet of inshore and pocket trawlers. Some were bought by ex-distant water skippers. They exploited grounds in the Irish Sea and North Channel and further afield in UK waters.

Around this time Lionel Marr chaired a committee in Fleetwood to promote Maritime England, a national tourism initiative.

He believed that the port should preserve a deep sea trawler as a heritage centre and found support from a few like-minded local men. They included Tony Lofthouse of the Fisherman's Friend company who has a deep knowledge of the industry. Local photographer and community activist Peter Horsley was onboard along with David Pearce who had written much about the industry as a local journalist. They were joined by Dick Gillingham, a local historian, from Fleetwood Museum.

The men travelled near and far - at their own expense - trying to find a suitable ship. Many trawlers had been working as standby ships around the oil and gas fields of the North Sea but were now heading for the scrapheap. The Fleetwood men saw some at a ship's graveyard on the Medway, followed up another lead in Lowestoft and then in Grimsby.

For various reasons, none of their efforts bore fruit and a letter to that effect in the Fleetwood Weekly News brought a disappointing lack of support. No one seemed to care.

Engine Failure

Meanwhile, the Jacinta was fishing well from Hull - see Facts and Figures.

The Marr group's plan for the ship envisaged a 25 year life after which she would be scrapped or maybe sold to a Third World country.

Then, in 1994, Jacinta suffered a major engine breakdown. She was towed back to Hull from grounds north east of Scotland.

She had been fishing for herring and mackerel and had been modified by the installation of a large net drum on a frame above the winch. It was hydraulic and the hydraulic pump was driven by a Volvo diesel engine installed under the shelterdeck forward of the winch.

In the engine room, a 1900 horse power English Electric Ruston Hornsby diesel engine provided the power. It drove a gearbox from which a long prop shaft ran through a tunnel under the fish room to turn a variable pitch propeller.

There was a power take off on the forward end of the engine which drove two in-line generators. One provided power for the winch motor and the other for general consumption. There was a back up generator in the engine room driven by a Lister diesel.

It was found that the crankshaft of the main engine had snapped. It was the second time this had happened. The insurers decided the ship should be scrapped.

A Shiny Pound

Alan Marr, chairman of the company and cousin to the Fleetwood campaigner Lionel Marr, knew of the efforts to find a heritage ship for Fleetwood and offered to give the Jacinta to Fleetwood in a gesture recalling the family's long links with the port.

His accountants told him the ship must be sold because it was an asset of the firm. The price was £1 and the shiny new coin is now in a frame onboard.

The Jacinta Charitable Trust, a registered charity, was set up and Jacinta was towed home to Fleetwood in February, 2005.

A team of volunteers set to work on the battered, rusty ship.

Subsequently, a support group called Friends of Jacinta was set up.

Open to Visitors

Skipper Taylor cut the ribbon to open the ship to visitors after Associated British Ports provided a berth in Fleetwood's fish dock.

Jacinta's new life had begun but the Trustees had ambitious plans to modify part of the interior and to find a replacement engine so they could take the story of deep sea fishing and the fishing community to other ports.

After basic cleaning and painting which meant removing literally tons of flaky rust from Jacinta, the ship opened to visitors. Some were casual visitors who walked through a gate on the Freeport Shopping Village and walked about 200 yards over the quay to reach the ship.

Tickets were sold and guides Dick Farrer and Frank Bee escorted parties round the vessel. Others came in organised groups at various times of the day and night including many schoolchildren.

Fishroom Conversion

In 1997 the fishroom was altered by Fleetwod Trawler Supply Company Building Division (Peter Hall Builders) to create a large open space. But part was kept in the original format to show visitors how fish was stowed away.

Before the fishroom conversion could begin, a team of volunteers removed ballast which had been set in place to counteract the weight of the pelagic net drum equipment up on deck. This ballast took the form of concrete building blocks cemented together in layers and was saturated with fish muck. It was a heavy and smelly task. Loads were winched up through a hatch just like baskets of fish and removed via the quayside. It was sometimes snowing while this work went on at weekends for many of the volunteers were at work in those days.

Gradually, the walls of this space have been filled by photographs, ship models and memorabilia from the fishing industry world. The floor space has meant that many events have been held onboard from a christening to annual sessions with the Fylde Folk Festival and the Jacinta Christmas Carol Service. All sorts of food has been consumed there.

This fishroom facility greatly enhanced the visitor experience.

Engine Restoration

Later in 1997 the Trustees began to discuss the possibility of making Jacinta mobile again.

Rather than rebuild the failed engine they decided to try and find a similar model as a replacement. Finally they heard of one for sale which had been used to power a generator for emergency lighting at the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall. It was an English Electric Ruston Hornsby but a lower hp - 1,633. That did not matter as we would not be fishing.

After a great deal of groundwork it was decided to give the job to a firm called Lengthline which later changed its name to Manchester Drydocks. They were based in a dry dock near the present day Salford Quays. In May, 2001, Jacinta was towed down to the Mersey and then up the Manchester Ship Canal for the big refit.

A large hole was cut in the ship's side and the old engine removed. Then the replacement went in. The redundant winch generator was removed and sold.

All seemed well until April, 2003 when the work was complete and it was time for testing by the Marine Coastguard Agency. Disaster struck during the test when there was another major engine failure.

That was the start of a long and complex chain of events involving insurance companies and lawyers.

The outcome was that Jacinta was towed to Garston docks on the Mersey and the Liverpool firm of James Troop stripped the engine down to the last nut and bolt. It was discovered that new piping which had been welded had not been "pickled" i.e. flushed with acid to remove fragments of metal from the welding. This metal waste had caused a blockage in the lubricating oil system and a major overheat. More important was that the engine was not aligned correctly on its bed and this had damaged the crankshaft.

Return to Sea

Finally, Jacinta was repaired and up and running and passed her MCA inspection. She was ready for sea. On Saturday, May 31st, 2003 she underwent sea trials in the Mersey and then sailed to Barrow where she spent the night in dock.

The following day, decked with bunting and with wives joining Trustees and crew members onboard she sailed back into Fleetwood under her own power to a very warm welcome from a huge crowd on a sunny afternoon. It was a very emotional moment.

Jacinta began to visit maritime festivals and events around the coast. She went to Whitehaven (twice), Barrow, Bristol, Hull. Grimsby, Isle of Man, Silloth, Glasgow, Warrenpoint, Belfast, Milford Haven, and, after taking part in the Spithead Review of 2005, she entered the historic Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth for the International Festival of the Sea.

Both the ship and her crew had to pass regular inspections by the Marine Coastguard Agency and a great deal of money was spent on Jacinta to keep her fit for sea including two major refits in dry dock at Camell Laird, Birkenhead. Originally, it was possible to take Jacinta out of the water on the slipway at Fleetwood docks but this was scrapped as ABP developed their marina facilities.

Engineering work over the years included removing the original Lister on the auxiliary generator and replacing it with the Volvo which had driven the net drum hydraulic pump. When this finally failed, a secondhand Volvo was bought to replace it. Additional generating power was provided by utilising the surviving generator which had run off the PTO of the main engine. Another, larger, Volvo engine was bought to do this via a belt drive. This Volvo was purchased from a Danish scrapyard and had once run in an Icelandic seiner.

Jacinta has a DC power system but a rotary converter can supply AC for modern navigational equipment.

A supply of electricity from shore via a cable is available to keep background heat in the engine room during winter.

Second Retirement

Finally, in 2012, the Trustees decided that, due to the age profile of the crew and the age of the ship - celebrating her 40th birthday with a party - that it was a case of safety first and Jacinta would retire from sailing and go back to her role as a floating heritage centre.

During the voyages of Jacinta many thousands of people visited the ship and countless visitors commented on that as being an interesting experience. Many appreciated the opportunity to talk to ex fishermen who had been at the sharp end of the industry.

Because of Associated British Port's health and safety policy, casual visitors are no longer permitted to access the fish dock quay via Freeport. But organised parties continue to visit the ship and events are held onboard.

Lionel Marr, Chairman of the Jacinta Charitable Trust, said: "During nearly 20 years of Jacinta's new life in Fleetwood, we have survived some ups and downs. Overall, we have more than fulfilled our original aim of preserving a ship and showing the public what the distant water fishing industry was all about."

"Many people have helped us achieve that aim. There have been the volunteers who have worked on restoration and maintenance over the years, the officers and crew who have taken Jacinta to sea - some of them are part of our present day team."

"And we have had a lot of help and goodwill from professionals who have worked on Jacinta and continue to do so."

"Our aim now is to keep the project moving forwards into the future."

Book a Visit

To book a visit or enquire about hiring Jacinta for your event, please contact us with your details.