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Cromarty Image Library

Dan Ross & Ship's Captain - c1938
The Cromarty Archive
Dan Ross & Ship's Captain - c1938

Campbell says; "Dan Ross, Harbourmaster on right. I assume the Captain is off one of the ships in the background.
Photographer and date unknown, but could be late 1930's."
Picture added on 23 March 2006
Campbell, the ship's captain, was actually a Mr. Bill STROVER, who was Chief Coastguard at the time, staying opposite our house at Frithview. He was married to a lady from Lossiemouth called Minnie.
I remember him been almost in daily contact with your Grandfather, they used to meet about 09.30am
when the papers arrived. The ship on the off-side of the pier is one of the earlier Fishery Cruisers.
Added by Clem Watson on 23 March 2006
Thanks, Clem, for that. I should have spotted it was a Coastguard uniform. You are right about the fishery cruiser. I've been trying to find out what its name was.
Added by Campbell Ross on 23 March 2006
This picture and picture #1582 both show sand dunes in front of the Royal. When was the sea wall built?
Added by Garve on 23 March 2006
Campbell, I think it was the 'FREYA', always remember her with a tall funnel, then after that briefly there was a new 'Freya', built along the lines of a small liner, which was lost in the North sea somewhere.
I seem to recall Rosie Henry's, Peter Thompson escaping via a porthole, as she sank? Cross check that in Cromarty.
Added by Clem Watson on 23 March 2006
Clem, am I right in thinking that Jackie Walters also escaped from the later 'FREYA' when she sunk? I seem to remember that two Croms were aboard at the time.
Added by Campbell Ross on 24 March 2006
Hello Campbell and Clem.I think the "Freya" sank a bit south of Wick where there is an area of bad cross seas that build up with easterly gales. Waves rebound across the firth. I know that Jackie Walters was a surviver and lost everything. My uncle Donald watson had just left the ship at Wick that day to return to Cromarty. If I'm not seriously mistaken the Freya and Brenda were similar and not the best of sea boats. Often in harbour during gales. There was another called the Vigilant along the lines of the steam trawlers. I think they had a top speed of 15kts which could catch most inshore fishing boats.
Added by Dennis Manson on 24 March 2006
The Freya capsized just south and east of Wick on the 9th January 1959. Peter Thomson was a survivor, I remember chatting to him about his escape in the mid 80's. As a kid in Shetland in the 60's I was often aboard her sister ship Norna (my Dad was pals with her Captain). Peter of course was from Shetland originally.

"The Freya was built by Wm Denny & Bros Ltd of Dumbarton, being launched in November 1954. The ship was a twin screw motor vessel of 274 gross tons and 58 net tons. She was 145 feet long, 24 feet beam and 11 foot depth. The engines were made by British Polar Engines Ltd of Glasgow and were each 4 cylinder, of 500bhp giving a speed of 14.5 knots.

Commissioned in the April of 1955. She patrolled mainly around the Moray Firth. It seems that she never had the confidence of her crews & gained a reputation for instability.

On the 8th of January 1959 Freya anchored at 1500 hours in Sinclair Bay. The wind was NW force 4. At 0315 hours on the 9th Freya heaved up anchor to move southwards, as the wind had veered to the northeast increasing to force 6 - 7 with squalls of force 8. At approximately 0440 hours Freya heeled to port and veered to starboard. She never recovered from the roll and lay over on her beam ends with the funnel lying in the water. She foundered approximately 15 minutes later.

The first that the wider world knew of the sinking was around 0930 hours when the trawler Summerlee passed a message to Wick radio. Stating 16 men had been picked up from a rubber dinghy by the Belgian trawler Berchmans.

Unfortunately 3 of the crew were missing. Despite a search by Coastguard, lifeboat, & helicopter, these men were never located."
Added by Calum Davidson on 24 March 2006
Hi. Found the site very interesting, I was on the Freya at the sinking, I knew Jackie and Peter, I also thought that another chap Ian Brodie came from Cromarty although I may be wrong [I will check].The ship at the peir could also be the Explorer [built 1909-1960 ] its hard to get a good look. I was also on her. Although I was very often in InverG I was never ashore in Cromarty, My loss.
Ian Taylor
Added by Ian Taylor on 28 December 2006
This is a little memoir of the occasion of the sinking of the Freya in 1959, written my my mother, Phoebe Coull:

"I am the widow of Captain George Coull [First Officer at the time of the sinking] who was commended by the jury at the inquest into the sinking of the Fishery Cruiser Freya on the 9th January 1959. I will never forget that morning when I was I listening to the radio at 11:30am and a news headline announced that the Fishery Cruiser Freya had foundered off the coast of Caithness. I almost fainted with shock, and turned on to the Trawler band to hear fishermen telling each other, and adding that there would be sad homes that night. At the time, we lived with our 21-month-old son [me] in an isolated estate lodge with no telephone. However, my husband's uncle in Lossiemouth rang the owner of Culdees Castle, Muthill, to say that George was a survivor, and the good news was quickly passed on to my father, who was head forester on the estate. He practically ran down the avenue to tell me, and I was so relieved I wept with joy."

"George retired in 1982 after 44 years at sea, and sadly died in February 2003. We miss him so much."
Added by David Coull on 06 February 2009
I was on the Fishery Cruiser Vigilant and have fond memories of sailing into Cromarty and then up to Invergordon. I still remember the Bosun's name was Jimmy Hossack and he stayed in one of the houses looking out over the Firth.
I was only a lad at the time and he was always giving me advice about my lifestyle...well intentioned of course.
Added by Jim Aitchison on 31 July 2010
My Dad was on the Freya when it sank. He was James Piercy. I was only a child at the time and dad used to joke with me that the fish were wearing his glasses. Dad suffered a heart attack shortly afterwards followed by a series of severe strokes. I remember him very fondly.
Added by Heather Tan on 15 September 2011
Hi All . I sailed with Capt. Coull and Jimmy Hossack on the old Switha . probably have photos of them somewhere .
Added by Ross on 30 October 2016
My grandfather Gordon McLaren was the Captain of the Freya and went down with his ship. My gran his wife died in 1998 aged 94. His eldest daughter is my mother, now 85 and she remembers with great sadness Her uncle coming to get her in London to take her home to Edinburgh.
Added by SARA melville on 19 March 2017
To Jim Aitchison
Jimmy Hossack was a good living man . I heard that Vigilant had machine gunned a friendly fighter in the Forth, we ribbed Jimmy about that.
Wullie Kinnaird was also on the Freya.
If any relatives would like photographs, I can send copies.
Added by Hm@nbharbour.org.uk on 24 April 2019
If you have any photos I would be most grateful. My dad was James Piercy known as Jimmie I believe. He survived the Freya disaster but had a major heart attack followed by strokes and died. He was an engineer. Thank you
Added by Heather Tan on 27 April 2019
I should add my Dad Jim Piercy was also on the Norma and the Brenda as well as the Freya when it sunk as an engineer
Added by Heather Tan on 27 April 2019
Thanks Clem we get great enjoyment from viewing these pictures brings back good memories ivy and Bruce
Added by Ivy drysdale on 27 April 2019
Hi Clem we get get great joy from looking at these pictures best wishes from Ivy Dereck and Bruce
Added by Ivy drysdale on 27 April 2019
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