|A Mersea fishing smack has been brought back to life by The Pioneer
Sailing Trust based at Harker's Yard, Brightlingsea, after a four year restoration with the aid of a grant of £790,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. PRISCILLA was found abandoned in a boatyard in Bristol and the yard owners wanted to get rid of her. They contacted the Colne Smack Preservation Society who in turn got in touch with Harker's Yard who bought her for £1. She is an important part of local fishing history, being built by Stone Bros. at their Brightlingsea yard in 1893. West Mersea fisherman Bobby Stoker bought her in 1931 and worked her in the Oyster fishery and other fishing until 1966.
In 1914 she was
lengthened by around six feet and our first photograph clearly shows the join in the deck. At the time this photo was taken she was fishing for shrimps and the copper for boiling them can be seen wedged in the hatchway in the centre of the picture. Bobby Stoker and his brother
Horace can be seen on deck chatting to a couple of guests sitting aft. (Horace and his wife lost their lives when the smack MAGGIE was blown up off Bradwell in 1942.)
In the rebuilding PRISCILLA has been restored back to her original length of 36 feet.
The second picture is from Pioneer Sailing Trust and shows the PRISCILLA being launched at Brightlingsea. The Countess of Wessex - to the right of the picture - poured wine over her stem to set her on her way. In the centre is Rupert Marks, chair of the Trustees of the Pioneer Sailing Trust.
Published in Mersea Life August 2017, local page 76.