Statement of Significance
Statement of significance for the ex-ring net fishing boat Shemaron. The first canoe-sterned ring net boats arrived in Campbeltown in April 1922. They were ordered by a Campbeltown fisherman named Robert Robertson. Designed by W G McBride the boats were based on a craft Robertson had seen in Norway. These boats named Falcon and Frigate Bird were different from earlier ring net boats. They were fully decked with more spacious living accommodation and a small aft mounted wheelhouse. These boats bore a striking resemblance to Wistaria now Shemaron, which was built twenty-eight years later in 1949. Within the next decade or so boats were generally built to be dual purpose and became heavier with higher gunnels and more powerful engines.
Shemaron remains very much as she was when she was built. Her oak frames, larch planking and pitch pine deck are unaltered. As are her hull, accommodation and fish hold. She has a more modern caterpillar engine, which replaced the Kelvin KR6. The wheelhouse although steel is roughly the same size and is in the same position as the original. The Ring Net Heritage Trust has plans to replace the wheelhouse with an exact replica and re-fit a Kelvin engine. The masts and rigging are of the original design. They use a combination of new and original donated parts from different ring net fishing vessels. The MacBain winch is on loan from Carradale museum.
Many of the worn parts of the boat are still in existence. The Trust only seeks to replace parts that are structurally unsound. There are worn areas of the deck and gunnels as well as marks on the hull caused by ropes etc. from her working days. Our philosophy is illustrated by the replacement of the stem, which was damaged and cracked. Although it would have been easier to replace the whole stem we have preserved as much of the original as possible. Particularly the top part including the worn cats head. Similarly, where we have had access to original steelwork for the masts this was used as opposed to having new parts made.
The Famous Sloan Family of Maidens
Wistaria/Shemaron was built for the Sloan family of Maidens. She was skippered by Billy Sloan. She was famous. When she fished for herring she partnered in turn, the equally famous ring net boats, Virginia, Bairns Pride and Watchful. Watchful was skippered by Billy’s brother Matt. In fishing communities around the west coast of Scotland the western isles and North Eastern England, these brothers were held in high esteem. Some people say they were the most successful fishermen of their era. They often found herring when others couldn’t and at times landed in weather that would put off most other boats.
Galbraiths of Carradale
The Sloan brothers sold Wistaria BA64 in 1964. (She was replaced by another boat named Wistaria BA208. This should be noted when carrying out any research as both vessels look similar, although BA208 was slightly bigger). She was sold to the Galbraith family of Carradale who continued ring netting. In fact, they remained using this method of fishing long after most other people had stopped. Indeed in the 1990s, Shemaron became the last boat ever to use a ring net in the Clyde during a tagging study.
Many books when talking about the ring net era will mention Watchful and Wistaria; there are many old photographs of her at sea and in harbours.
Of the west coast ring net boats, very few survive. At this moment we believe Shemaron is the only single purpose ring net boat, rigged to look as such, and not altered in any way. She was built by Weatherhead and Sons of Cockenzie. In every way, she is a typical ring net boat. Shemaron was built to be fast and manoeuvrable, as low in the water as possible and with low gunnels to be able to handle the nets. Her classic shape and distinctive sheer are recognised and appreciated wherever she ventures. This is particularly true in the harbours around Kintyre and Ayrshire where she used to work. It is the trust’s intention to keep Shemaron in this area.
Research for this page was undertaken by Discovering Heritage