Provident — a 70-foot Brixham Trawler (with Hoshi in the background). Present location: Salcombe

Technically Provident is a gaff-rigged ketch, known to Brixham fisherman as a dandy-rigged smack. Brixham was a trawling port certainly by the end of the 18th c. The town's home fishing ground was a 20 mile patch between Start Point and Tor Bay. Sole, whiting, turbot, brill, hake were the commonest catches. Mostly the boats came home the same day, especially after the railway (1860) put London only five or six hours away.

In 1852,70 smacks under 35 tons worked out of the harbour. By 1872, there were 136. In the 1880s a population of 7000 supported — or more correctly were supported by — 160 boats, one for every four people. Originally Brixham boats were single masted but a second pole was added around 1875 and these improved boats are considered the best, the fastest, the most seaworthy fishing craft ever developed in Britain. Their influence spread all round the English coast (see Hull). Hence Provident's importance.

She was built in 1924, just too late for the fishing boom (by 1926 only 29 boats were left). In the early '30s she became a yacht and has remained one ever since.

Other drawings and photographs of Victorian barges


Sullivan, Dick. Old Ships, Boats & Maritime Museums. London: Coracle Books, 1978. Pp. 41-42.

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Last modified 11 April 2006