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Tribute planned to Boston's 'lost fishermen'

A tribute to the "Lost Fishermen of Boston" is being planned by a small team of wood carvers.

Members of Boston and South Holland Wood Carvers are to build an eight-foot high oak monument to fishermen who sailed from Boston at the outbreak of the First World War and were killed or taken prisoner.

Some of the fishermen put to sea unaware that war had been declared and ten of 16 deep-sea trawlers from the port were sunk in the first month of the conflict. Nine of the 16 belonged to the Boston Deep Sea Fishing Company. The Admiralty ordered a recall of trawlers at sea, but the messages were compromised by the scarcity of radio communications at that time.

At least 51 fishermen lost their lives and 53 more were held prisoners of war.

A scale model work-in-progress can be seen every Wednesday and Saturday between 10am and 1pm when the wood carvers are at work in St Botolph's Church in Boston.

The "tribute to the lost fishermen of Boston" will feature a three-cornered seat and interlinked carved panels on three or four sides of a rising tower with imagery reflective of the fishing industry and Boston's maritime history. There will be some descriptive words.

A location for it has not yet been decided upon, but it is hoped to place it somewhere along The Haven, within view of vessels leaving and arriving the port in time for the centenary of the end of the First World War next November.

The six wood carvers are all recent beginners, inspired by a Transported Arts project. Under the guidance of expert Peter Tree they have already produced large-scale wood carvings for Witham Way Country Park, including a model of The Stump, which took three months to complete.

The idea of such a tribute was a joint idea after the group became aware of monuments to lost fishermen in Hull and Grimsby.  

Wood carver Colin Briggs said: "If anything, our tribute is an anti-war monument, reflecting upon the hardships faced by both the fishermen and their families. Many of their descendants still live in Boston and Fleetwood today. Boston currently has no such tribute to mark these losses and their story appears to be forgotten."

Retired policeman Iain Braid said he found wood carving massively relaxing and therapeutic.

Cllr Peter Bedford, Leader of Boston Borough Council, said: "I fully support official recognition of these tragic events and the sacrifice of those brave people.

"This proposal will complement the new memorial in Memorial Gardens to mark the centenary of the First World War.

"I have seen the quality of the artworks created by the group for Witham Way Country Park and they are impressive."

Suspension of deep sea fishing put 80 fishermen out of work. Deep sea fishing out of Boston resumed in 1915, but there were more casualties with trawlers shelled. A further six Boston trawlers were destroyed by enemy action during the remainder of the war and even later, ships were to hit mines that were floating in the North Sea., thereby adding to the casualties.

Later in the war Boston was chosen to be the port for the exchange of prisoners.

Anyone is welcome to join the wood carvers and have a go. Just turn up at the Stump on a Wednesday or Saturday between 10am and 1pm. For more information visit their Facebook site at

Update: The quarter size model of the monument is nearing completion.   It remains subject to ideas and suggestions.   Pictured below is Mrs Trudy Watkinson, a visitor to the workshop.   She is the Great-Granddaughter of Charles Warsap, the 2nd Engineer on Steam Trawler PORPOISE (BN23), sunk during the first week of WW1.   Mr Warsap along with J. Smith (of Yarmouth), W. Blakey, J. Beavers, A. Clarke, J. Bourne and J. England were taken into captivity until cessation of hostilities.

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Mrs Trudy Watkinson pictured next to the near complete quater size model of the monument.

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From left, Cllr Peter Bedford in Boston Stump with the model of the tribute to Boston's lost fishermen, and wood carvers Dereck Harvey, Judi Kay, Iain Braid, Sandra Dickson, Daniel Hold and Colin Briggs.

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The model and some ideas for the carved panels.