Boat’s master fined for refusing orders

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1914 Police Court

A case affecting fishermen who make use of the Scarborough Harbour came before Mr EH Gawne and Mr Hy. Stephenson at the Scarborough Police Court today, when William Jenkinson Watkinson, Filey, master of the steam drifter Lord Kitchener, was summoned for neglecting to comply with the orders and directions given by the deputy Harbour Master on the 12th January. He was further summoned for failing to attend on board during the tide time and whilst the vessel was afloat, or cause some competent person to attend on his behalf in order to receive the Harbour Master’s directions between the 11th and 14th January.

Mr John Whitfield was for the Harbour Commissioners, and Mr Tasker Hart defended.

Asked to plead, defendant said he did not move because there was not a suitable berth to go to.

Mr Hart: He pleads not guilty. We will hear what the case against us is.

Mr Whitfield said the case was taken under Section 152 of the Scarborough Harbour Act. On Monday January 12th, the steam drifter Lord Kitchener, of which defendant was the master, was by the fish market. It had been there since the previous Saturday.

Defendant: No, sir; we landed fish that day.

Mr Whitfield said that perhaps he might be wrong in that, but the important point was that the drifter was against the fish market. Another steam drifter was there, and the deputy to the harbour master gave defendant instructions to move from the fish market, where he had delivered his fish to another berth, which would have been found for him against the Lighthouse Pier.

Defendant instead of moving in accordance with directions, went away, leaving no one, and the result was that the boat was lying against the fish market until the following afternoon. It was there practically twenty-four hours.

The harbour master’s orders must be obeyed in cases of this kind if any sort of order was to be observed in the harbour. Any breach of this kind caused a great deal of difficulty. There was a very good reason why the harbour master should give the order, and it was this, that if there had been three trawlers come to the harbour to land fish on Tuesday morning it would have been necessary for someone, presumably the harbour authorities, to cause the defendant’s steam drifter to be moved from the fish market side. They would have had to have done that and perhaps taken a certain amount of risk and responsibility, employed labour and so forth simply to enable a third trawler to come in and land fish. If a trawler had come up against this boat great damage might have been done for which the Harbour Commissioners might have been responsible. The steam drifter drew less water than a trawler and if the trawler which drew more water had been up against the steam drifter and the tide had gone down the trawler would have taken ground and the result would have been that the steam drifter would have been jammed between the trawler and the pier side and almost inevitably damage would have resulted. As a matter of fact three trawlers did not come in but two did. If another had come in great difficulty would have been caused. He was not instructed to ask for a heavy penalty. The Commissioners would be satisfied with a small penalty to show skippers it was essential that the orders of the Harbour Master or his deputy must be respected.

Joseph Yeoman, berth master of the West Pier, stated that he gave instructions to defendant to go to the other side of the harbour.

Cross-examined: Defendant had been fishing out of Scarborough about twenty years. The only order he gave was to go to the other side. He said perhaps a berth would be found for defendant inside the Princess Royal. Witness did not know exactly what berth defendant would be put into at the other side.

Mr Hart said no doubt a technical breach of this section had taken place. The order was of somewhat indefinite character and that afforded some slight justification of the man not immediately removing.

Defendant said he asked Yeoman who would be responsible for loosing the Princess Royal, and was told by Yeoman that he did not know and did not care. He did not like the bottom there which was rock, and his was a wooden vessel. If someone had given him instructions to unfasten the Princess Royal he would have gone.

His only reason for not obeying was that there was no other berth available.

By Mr Hart: He had been fishing out of Scarborough twenty years and never come into conflict with the Harbour Master. At the time the harbour was very full in consequence of the strike.

The Chairman said that the Harbour Master must be supported in his duties whatever happened. A fine of 15s including costs would be imposed.