Guide / Shamrock

Guide 2004

The remains


Plaque at Purton


Despite her almost complete destruction in 1986 at the hands of a serial arsonist, the Guide’ keel and several futtocks remain to portray a life times of service within both a foreign and coasting capacity. As we can see her long and chequered career has taken her from one end of the country to the other in there dedicated service of several prominent Portland ship owning families only to end her days in the employ of Severnside shipping magnates.

Built 155 years ago, as a Brigantine the Guide gives rise to changing fortunes whist highlighting the histories ability to adapt and prosper. This is clearly shown in the vessels mammoth journey from the nation’s maritime capitol to the lowly inland waterways of the Sharpness to Gloucester canal. Once here, her crew list read like a who’s who of Gloucestershire’s maritime elite albeit a far cry from her earlier far flung wonderings.

Those said and in light of her almost total destruction, the Guide history remains entombed in archives throughout Great Britain and in doing so remains a symbol of national resolve to trade far and wide. She is therefore a fitting tribute to a maritime heritage long since departed



Guide renamed Shamrock

LPB Identification No. 28 DRM Identification No. 4 AJP Identification No. 31
Source (FR)(DMc)(LPB)(RM)(JC)(DJW)(RS)(RD)(WR)(OH)(JN)(PN)(RE)


Name P.o.R Description Dates




Renamed Shamrock

London 1854
Liverpool 71/55
Portland 1865
Weymouth 6/65 (76)

Weymouth 92
Gloucester 11/01
Gloucester 3/17

Wood Brigantine
Wood Brigantine
Wood Brigantine
Wood Schooner
Alt to Sp & gammon knee
Wood Schooner






Official No. 25803 Code P.H.M.D and once as P.H.M.L
Builders Dartmouth, Holman & Kelly 11y R 5.73-7y
Dimensions 1860 Length Breath Depths
Dimensions 1865 Length 102.5 ft Breath 20.8 ft Depths 11.1 ft
Dimensions 1884 Length Breath Depths
Dimensions 1886 Length Breath Depths
Dimensions 1892 Length Breath Depths
Dimensions 1894 Length 102.5 ft Breath 20.8 ft Depths 11.1 ft
Dimensions ---- Length 98.8 ft Breath 17.7 ft Depths

1860 Gross 136.51 ton Net 122.06 ton B.D
1865 Gross 136.51 ton Net 122.06 ton B.D
1884 Gross 136.51 ton Net 122.06 ton B.D
1886 Gross 136.51 ton Net 122.64 ton B.D
1892 Gross 137.00 ton Net 99.00 ton B.D 30
1894 Gross 136.51 ton Net 99.36 ton B.D

Engines By None
Beached date 1950
Beached by Capt Frank Savage Bunny Hunt, Bob Green,
Miscellaneous ptIB ptnklsn&srp65
Wy 8/25.8.65 1+brk,2Bn,rd,cvl,sham,mb, wd, (dim)
Glos 5/25.4.94 1+brk 2,Sr,rd,cvl,shamgall,gammon,hd, wd (dim)
First Owners (1854) Hunt & Co, London (1854 - 60) Durranty, Liverpool (R. Jarrett) (60 65)

1860 - 5 Robert Chaddock Liverpool, (T.Elliot)
1865 Robert Chaddock Waterford, (T.Elliot)
25.8.65 (64) Thomas Elliot, Portland formally of Liverpool (Medit)(73 75 76) (1865 – 1878/9)
3.4.68 (16) John Angel, Swansea (48) Thomas Elliot, Portland
28.8.79 (16) John Angel, Swansea (48) Robert Elliot, Portland
15.6.80 (64) Robert Elliot, Portland (1879 – 80/81 R Elliot)
15.6.80 (32) Frank Nurse & (32) Charles Hydon Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88), (1880/1 – 1891)
24.7.90 (12) Thomas Harper, (20) Frank Nurse & (32) Charles Henry Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88)
3.12.90 (12) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester (8) Frank Nurse & (32) Charles Henry Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88), (12) Thomas Harper
17.3.91 (8) Jacob Rice, Gloster (92) (1891) (12) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester (32) Charles Henry Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88), (12)Thomas Harper
17.3.91 (16) Jacob Rice, Gloster (92), (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (32) Charles Henry Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88), (12) Thomas Harper,
18.8.91 (32) Jacob Rice Gloster, (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (16) Charles Henry Nurse Saul (81 84 87 88),
(12) Thomas Harper,
2.11.91 (16 £90) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92) (1891-1895/6) (32) Jacob Rice Gloster, (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (12) Thomas Harper,
3.12.91 (16) George Newman, Gloucester, (16) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (12) Thomas Harper, (16 £90) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92) (1891- 1895/6)
11.2.92 (21) George Newman, Gloucester, (16) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (7) Thomas Harper, (16 £90) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92) (1891- 1895/6)
16.2.92 (21) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92) (1891- 1895/6) (21) George Newman, Gloucester, (16) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (4) Charles Arthur Field, Gloucester, (2) Thomas Harper,
18.2.92 (20) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (21) Alexander Johns, (1891- 1895/6) Gloucester (92) (21) George Newman, Gloucester, (2) Thomas Harper,
18.2.92 (22) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (21) Alexander Johns, (1891- 1895/6) Gloucester (92) (21) George Newman, Gloucester,
20.3.94 (21 £80) Peter Johns, Gloucester (22) Jacob Rice Gloucester, (21) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92) (1891- 1895/6)
24.4.94 (22) Kittel Pedersen, Gloucester, Ship Wright (21 £80) Peter Johns, Gloucester, Ships Chandler, (21) Alexander Johns, Gloucester, Ship Owner (92) (1891- 1895/6)
24.4.94 R.C. Weymouth registry transferred to Gloucester registry
25.4.94 (22) Kittel Pedersen, Gloucester, (21 £80) Peter Johns, Gloucester, (21) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92 97) (1891- 1895/6)
8.11.98 (27) Kittel Pedersen, Gloucester, (11) Peter Johns, Gloucester, (26) Alexander Johns, Gloucester (92 97) (1891- 1895/6)
Transactions. 05.11.1898. Peter Johns sold 10 shares to Kittel Pedersen and 11 shares to Alexander Johns.
R.C. 23.11.01 Glos – Re. Converted to a lighter renamed Shamrock

Historic overview
A descendants search

The following unaltered round of correspondence was received from Roland Elliott a direct descendant to the Guides former owners Thomas and William Elliott and has been included as the author feels it clearly demonstrates the importance of this unique collection as vital link to unravel the past for both the individual, the community and this once proud maritime nation.

A chance encounter and initial request for information:-

I am trying to find out any information about a Brig called GUIDE built in Dartmouth in 1854 by John Holman & William Kelly for owners Messrs Hunt & Henley. The survey dated February 1854 says its destined voyage was Alexandria and the Master Robert Jarrett. From 1858, I believe, my gg grandfather Thomas ELLIOTT became the owner and master, hence my interest in this vessel.
Yours sincerely
Roland Elliott


Email relieved 19th January 2009 following initial contact:-

Dear Paul,
Further to our telephone conversation earlier today, following my posting on the South West Maritime History Society’ website and your reply. After talking to you I decided to ‘Google’ ships graveyard and came up with your page on the Purton website. I also downloaded the slideshow. I am just knocked out that the GUIDE still exists (or bits of it) and eager to find out more.

A quick look at the CLIP project (Crew List Indexing Project) shows that my gg grandfather must have sold GUIDE to the NURSE family in Gloucestershire where the vessel must have remained. I have a copy of the ships survey from the maritime museum in Greenwich but no plans unfortunately. It would be nice to get a feel of what this vessel was like as both my great grandfather William ELLIOTT and his father Thomas ELLIOTT were at one time its Masters.

As I said on the phone, my main interest is my family’s history, but as five generations or possibly more of my Portland ancestors were Mariners, this also is of great interest to me. Thank you so much for getting in touch. I look forward to finding out more in a couple of weeks when I return from holiday.
Roland Elliott

The REAL need for protection:-

Dear Paul,
following your recent posting on the South West Maritime History Society’ website I have added this brief comment of my support:-

I have not visited Purton mainly because I am a lone parent living on a small income but thanks to this forum and Paul Barnett, I discovered that a vessel owned by my great grandfather, the brig ‘GUIDE’ ended up as being a barge called ‘SHAMROCK’ which is now one of the earlier hulks at Purton. GUIDE was built in 1854 at the Sand Quays Dockyard in Dartmouth by Holman & Kelly. I doubt if any other vessels from this time and before the dockyard was taken over by Philip & Sons still exist, which may highlight the importance of some of the vessels remains at the Purton site.

Actually it was great great grandfather, Thomas Elliott from Portland Dorset but my great grandfather William ELLIOTT was also master of the GUIDE from 1878. (didn’t notice the typing mistake until after I posted it!). Unfortunately, as I do not have the money at the moment to come and see the site for myself, its so important that something is done to support the work of preserving the site .so that when I do have the money there will be something left to see!. I have seen the one photo of Shamrock on the website but would also be grateful if you could let me know if you hold any more details about this vessel. My information was that she was brought by the Nurse family and ended up in Gloucestershire where clearly the vessel was converted to a barge which ended up at Purton. So any other information or photos or even a description of what remains would be useful.

Historic images
Shamrock 1914

The Shamrock at Sharpness Swing bridge 6th August 1914 via a Jobert Miles postcard, Dean Heritage Centre (Acc1986.146.1305).


S/S “BYLGIA” discharging deals at Sharpness, Shamrock ex Guide of Weymouth is in left foreground via Wilf Rowls postcard, The Folk Museum (F/WGR30)

Shamrock 1952

The Shamrock on the foreshore November 1952, The David R. MacGregor Collection

Recent images
Shamrock 1982

‘Dust to Dust Ashes to Ashes’ The Ron Cowl Archive 1982

Shamrock 2004

The sea of green, The L. P. Barnett Collection 2004

Shamrock 2004

The Shamrock mortal remains 2004, The L. P. Barnett Collection

Lloyds register

Lloyds Class A1.54 1 A 4/60
P.O.R. Weymouth / Registered at Gloucester in 1894
Last registered in Lloyds 1895/6 as Guide via Alexander Johns of Gloucester POR

Mercantile register

The M.N.L. for 1883 gives her owner as Capt. Charles Nurse of Saul and her master as Capt. Frank Nurse. She had a crew of 5.
Last registered MNL 1901 as Guide via Alexander Johns
Never registered in MNL as Shamrock

Weymouth Records Office

*Note to the reader
Official Numbers were allocated to each port office on a block bases and then issued to ships registering in that port. If for any reason a ship changed its port of registry it would have retained the same official number

Under the merchant shipping Acts of 1835 and later, all vessel registered at over 15 tonne were required to be registered and return certain documents twice a year to the registry of shipping and seamen (board of trade). The main documents concerned are crew lists and agreements and “official logs for foreign going ships” These logs are not e.g. deaths or disturbances on board, which had to be reported to the registrar of shipping seamen.

The following documents were there recorded by the Guides Master and form part of the Weymouth/Portland shipping records

Guides Certificate

Weymouth Ships Register

Date of Departure
Date of Arrival
July 1st 1884
July 4th 1884
July 10th 1884
July 18h 1884
July 29th 1884
August 2nd 1884
August 11th 1884
August 25th 1884
August 30th 1884
September 11th 1884
September 17th 1884
September 19th 1884
September 24th 1884
September 30th 1884
October 23rd 1884
November 3rd 1884
November 24th 1884
December 31st 1884
January 7th 1885
January 8th 1885
Signed George Nurse
Instructions to Masters of vessels engaged in the Home Trade
Guide ancillary information

Registered in 1881 as being at Milford Haven
26.08.1881 The vessel lost her foretopmast and two hands on passage from Cork to Stockton with old rails, 8 miles SE of Whitby. Wind WSW Force 7.
26.03.1883 Her bulwarks were carried away and the master, Capt. George Nurse lost overboard 24 miles SWxW of the South Stack, when bound for Liverpool with marble and phosphates from Brussels. Wind NW Force 9. Crew 5.
21.4.1884 Alt to Sp & gammon knee
24.4.94 R.C. Weymouth registry transferred to Gloucester registry
R.C. 23.11.01 Glos – Re. Converted to a lighter renamed Shamrock
Located in David R MacGregors 1952 photo
Graham Farr via Robin Craig registered not extant 1953
Graham Farr seen at Purton 1959
LPB observation in 2001 6.60m (21.65ft) at spread beam approx
Bristol maritime enthusiast Jim Crissup recorded this unidentified sailing vessel during h


Holman & Kelly Builders
Thomas Elliott of Portland former owner
Robert Elliott of Portland former owner
John Angel of Swansea former owner
Jonathan Pepler former crew
Charles Henry Nurse of Gloucester former owner
Franck Nurse of Gloucester former owner
Charles A. Field of Gloucester, former owner
Capt George Nurse former master
Jacob Rice of Gloucester, former owner
Alexander Johns former owner
Kittel Pedersen former owner
George Thomas Beard former owner
Jobert Miles Sharpness photographer
Archie Nurse former crew
Harry Rowles former crew
Wilf Rowles descendant of former crew
Roland Elliott descendant of former owner
Jim Nurse descendant of former owner
Peter Nurse descendant of former owner
Capt. Frank Savage – beaching tug Primrose Skipper
Bunny Hunt – beaching crew
Bob Green – beaching helmsmen

Analogue transcripts
From the Oliver Hill Notes

On 14.2.1884, Frank Nurse, master of the schooner Guide which the Poole Notary Public, Geo. Braxton Alderidge, said was of and belonged to Gloucester, but which was registered at Weymouth, according to the MNL for 1886, made a Protest before the above Notary Public to the effect that tempestuous weather had been met with from the time the vessel left Newport until her arrival at Poole and that she had suffered damage in this account. On 1st March, Capt Nurse with his Mate John Sims, again appeared before the Notary Public and declared that having a cargo of steel rails on board from Newport for Poole, the vessel left Newport at about 7 am on 15th November last having the wind from the East and fine weather. They proceeded on their voyage nothing particular occurring until 19th November when they struck a heavy gale and owing to loss of spars and sails had to put into Bridgwater for repairs and the master caused his protest to be entered there.

Repairs having been completed at 9.00 am on 18th January the vessel was towed to Burnham where they anchored having carefully attended to the pumps but found the vessel made no water. They remained there at anchor owing to contrary winds until 23rd January, the pumps being constantly attended to, but the vessel made no water. On 22nd the wind veered to the West and blew a heavy gale causing the vessel to drag her anchors and go ashore on Burnham Beach. The master got help and tried to get the vessel afloat but was unable to as the gale continued. On the 26th, a steam tug was engaged to tow the Guide off and the crew hove upon the anchors but the wind blowing a hurricane they were unable to get her off. They sounded the pump and found the vessel made a little water. On 27th another effort was made to tow her off but as the gale continued all day, this also failed. On sounding it was found that she had made 3 inches of water. Next day the tug tried again but without success, but on the 29th she succeeded and the Guide was safely moored, the master paying £45 for the service of the tug and assistance. The pumps were carefully attended to and the vessel still continued to make a little water.

They remained at Burnham until the 4th when they set sail and proceeded on their voyage with moderate weather until the 9th, when they encountered a gale from the SW x S with heavy seas so that they were forced to put into Dartmouth, where they remained until the 11th, when the wind moderating they set sail and arrived at Poole on the 12th and were moored alongside the quay in safety. The Guide at the time of the foregoing passage from Newport to Poole was owned by Charles H Nurse of Saul, Glos. She is listed in the MNL for 1884 as a Brigantine. Her ON 25803 and she was registered at Weymouth having been built at Dartmouth in 1854. Her registered tonnage is given as 136 and her International Code Signal is PHMD. She remained in the same ownership etc. up to 1890 when her registered tonnage is altered to 122 and her rig is now given as that of a schooner. In 1891 the MNL details are the same as given in 1890. In the MNL for 1892 her registered tonnage is again altered, it is now given as 99 as her owner is Jacob Rice of Gloucester. In 1893 her owner is Alex Johns of Gloucester and her remains so up to 1901, in 1895 her Port of Registration is given as Gloucester and this also remains up to 1901. In 1902 her name is no longer in the MNL.

From the Oliver Hill Casualty List.

Adrian Gordon

Marine Historian, Date of interviews 20.03.03 & 10.07.03
Ref. F ADA painted on hatch coaming (DMc c.1961)

Guide of Weymouth.

Wood Schooner. 99 tons. International Code PHMD
Built 1854 at Dartmouth.
12.8.1901. Stranded and became a total loss in the Estuary of the River Ribble, Lancashire when bound for Plymouth with Coal from Preston.
Wind SSE 4.
Master A Jenkins, owner a Johns, Gloucester. Crew 4.

Guide of Gloucester.

Wood Schooner. 99 tons. International Code PHMD
Built 1854 at Dartmouth.
12.8.1901. Stranded and became a total loss in the Estuary of the River Ribble, Lancashire when bound for Plymouth with Coal from Preston.
Wind SSE 4.
Master A Jenkins, owner a Johns, Gloucester. Crew 4.

Charlie Langford

Crew member of the Tugs Addie, Resolute and Primrose. Date of interview 19.06.03

Charlie identified the Shamrock as being on the bank at Purton and recalls that she was a large vessel with a pointy stern and originally powered by a steam engine, however he further states that he always recalls her as a towed barge. Furthermore Charlie stated that the photograph of the Shamrock was taken by Jobert Miles the former Sharpness garage owner and whose son now runs the business.

Jim Nurse

Descendant of former owner
Shamrock former Guide
see J Nurses notes

A J Parker

PURTON: KEY TO PLAN OF BOAT REMAINS, Reference A. J. Parker (1998)
31. Shamrock (Macgregor 4). Converted to a barge not the original name.

Wilf G. Rowles

Author and former tanker skipper of Berkeley, interviewed 23rd March 1960
As Guide a Schooner
Official No. 25803
built Dartmouth 1854 restored 1873 136t
Dimensions 98.0 x 17.7 x 11.2
International code P.H.M.D
Gammon Head
In our local graveyard we have the hulk of the Guide of Weymouth a lovely shaped craft. Her accommodation comprised Master’s room, Mate’s room, Mess room and Sail room. As the last entry for this vessel in the MNL is for 1901, presumably it was then that she was turned into a timber lighter.

In January or February of 1902 the vessel was stripped down and converted to a lighter, coming under the ownership of G. T. Beard, carrier and barge owner of Gloucester. As a lighter working on the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal she ran under the name of Shamrock until mid 1930. It is about twenty years ago that she was taken to her final resting place at Purton the local ship graveyard to act as a breakwater on the banks of the Severn. She is still in fairly good fettle which speaks well for the builders

In her heyday she had a great number of deep water passages to her credit, often sailing to ports in South America. Many of her Eastern voyages comprised of olive oil and currants loaded in Greece and Spain, for Gloucester. She was owned by the Nurse Brothers for many years and engaged by them in the cattle trade from Corunna to Penzance.

* LPB note Possible date of beaching is leaned from Wilf during his 26th April 1960 interview at which time he stated “ The Shamrock was beached about 20 years ago”, i.e. 1940 or earlier*

From the Oliver Hill Notes. Folder 17. via Wilf Rowles

Master Owners. The Nurse Family.
The Guide of Weymouth was owned by Charles H Nurse of Saul, Glos from 1881 to 1891. The master was George Nurse, Charles Henry Nurse was a brother to Frank Nurse, the little C & F Nurse was named after them, they were uncles of my father, Harry Rowles Jun, Fathers mother was a sister to the Nurse Brothers

Capt W G Rowles, Berkeley, Glos 26.9.1960.

Master of the Coastal Tanker B P Miller.

One of the Nurse Brothers was drowned when master of the Guide, he was on a passage down the Irish Sea and during dirty weather went aloft to look for the South Stack Light, and apparently he slipped and fell overboard, nothing more was seen of him.

Capt W G Rowles, 19.10.1960.

Capt Frank, who was father uncle, was master of a vessel in which father was also engaged. At L’Orient, they were discharging a cargo of Coal father working down in the hold, Capt Frank who had a flowing beard went ashore to conduct ships business, after an elapse of several hours, father turned to his shipmate, Archie Nurse and said “Whose that old B……. up there, tell him to come and catch hold of the shovel”. The old B…… up there on the quay was none other than Capt Frank minus his beard. This miscreant was hauled before the master in the sanctity of the saloon and given a lecture on the use and abuse of profanity. It must have had a good effect, for I never heard my Guvnor use a bad word. Archie Nurse was a son of the Guides Nurse already mentioned. Archie or Uncle Arch as I called him died aboard his vessel the little Saltom a Bristol Sand-sucker around 27 or 28. We still have living with us Mrs Ralph Harper whose husband, Uncle Ralph was lost in the Irish Sea 1910 the same time as Lewis ??? Nurse in the Lucy John.

Wilf Rowles of Sharpness. (c 1974)

Guide. Schooner 136 R/T ON 25803 Int Code PHMD.
Dimensions 98.0’ x 17.7’ x 11.2’. Built at Dartmouth in 1854. Restored in 1873 and was then F & YM overpart. My 1882-3 Lloyds Register gives her master as Elliot, her owner as F Nurse, P/R Weymouth. She was under the Nurse ownership for a good many years, and was engaged in carrying cattle from Corunna to Penzance. When Capt George Nurse was master, she was coming down the Irish Sea and he went aloft to look for the South Stack Light, it being mucky weather, when he slipped and fell overboard, never to be seen again. Aunt Pollie Nurse formerly Rowles, his wife, was about to leave Saul to join him somewhere when she received the sad news. It is reputed that the vessel became a total loss in the River Ribble, Lancs, when bound to Plymouth with a full cargo of coal from Preston, but such is not the case. Whatever troubles she encountered, she came back to Saul and was stripped down, being purchased by G T Beard of Gloucester, who changed her name to Shamrock. She worked on the canal between Gloucester and Sharpness until the middle 1930’s, when she was taken to the Purton ship graveyard, a couple of miles from my home. She can still be recognised as one of the lovely little ladies of Severnside, in fact I crawled around her only a month ago. Speaks well of the builders to last over 120 years.

Extract from a Wilf Rowles letter to a Miss Margaret Ellen (Marjorie) Nurse 15th January 1975

At Purton ship graveyard there are two vessels which formerly belonged to the Nurse fleet. The Island Maid which became the Orby on the canal after she was stripped down, and a vessel in which my late father first went to sea at the age of 13, running down to Lorient in Britanny with coal, then on down to Corunna in Spain, to load cattle back to Penzance. A few years ago, the rings to which the cattle were tethered, could still be seen, but of course the ravages of time have dealt harshly with the little lady. Not so the little Guide of Weymouth, which became the Shamrock on the canal. Fortunately, she can still be recognised as one of the little vessels. It was in this vessel that, Capt George Nurse sailed from Liverpool bound round home to Saul, when in the vicinity of the South Stack Light, Holyhead, he went aloft to look for the light in order to establish his position, when he slipped and fell overboard, never to be seen again.

Ray Savage

Skipper of the tug Speedwell and canal man date of interview 29.06.03
Ray identified the Shamrock by name and recalls that photograph was taken by local man Jobert Miles.

Len Williams

Port of Bristol Warehousing Manager
Len thinks the Shamrock came down to Avonmouth to collect grain.

David Wheeler

David originally recorded a physical description of Shamrocks counter stern and stated she had a bows that was very similar to vessel II . Further his 1959 photo clearly shows the letters SHAM. As a result David recorded the vessel during his 1965 survey thus, Shamrock open, counter, bow similar to vessel II.

Dick Woodward

Dick advised that the vessel had originally been a sailing vessel and upon her arrival on the Sharpness to Gloucester Canal, had been converted to a barge and renamed thus Shamrock was not her original name.

Phase one report