In the 19th century shipbuilding became a major industry for the parish of Feock. In one year alone, 1877, four schooners were launched; the J.W.T at Pill (100 tons), the Mary & Julia at Devoran (136 tons), the William & John at Roundwood (83 tons) and the Hetty at Yard Point near Penpoll (100 tons).
An early shipbuilding dynasty which survived throughout the century was that of the Ferris family. Thomas, Peter and William (Foreman) Ferris started at Pill but also built at Yard Point in Trolver Croft, Penpoll. In the 1850s John Stephens took over Yard Point and many schooners were built there including the Rhoda Mary. William Ferris designed and built this ship which was reputed to be one of the fastest and finest of all schooners built in Cornwall. It is commemorated within the Feock Parish Council coat of arms.
The following record was written by the Feock Local History Group in 1973, a full series of articles by the group can be viewed on the Feock Trails Historical Reference Library option within the Parish Website.
During the 19th century Small ships were built at many sites on all rivers and estuaries so that it is not surprising to find that there were several yards even in one parish. The most important building site was at Penpoll, where the location is still known as Yard Point, there were also building sites at Pill, Devoran, Cowlands and Roundwood.
The earliest record of building that have found so far was at Pill, where the following builders worked: -
(a) Hitchins and Ford
1819 William Thomas Barge 37 tons.
1877 J.W. T. Schooner 100 tons.
1879 Lizzie Edith Schooner 90 tons.
(b) William Hodge
1865 Glenfeadon Schooner 128 tons.
1865 A.D. Gilbert Schooner 177 tons.
(c) Charles Burt
1879 Reaper Schooner 91 tons.
Devoran was not a very convenient site for ship building as there was little depth of water and no good place for building slips, nevertheless, several ships were built there: -
(a) W. Stephens, Jnr.
1844 owner unknown, smack tonnage unknown
(b) Ricard Gilbert
1881 R. H. G. Ketch 45 tons.
(c) Hugհ Eddy Stephens
1869 Enterprise Smack 53 tons
1870 Annie Sloop 15 tons
1875 Maggie Schooner 12 tons
1875 Mary Smack 25 tons
1877 Mary & Julia Schooner 136 tons
1878 P. H. Stephens Schooner 85 tons
H. E. Stephens built on a site near Tallack’s creek which can still be seen, and lived in one of the Cottages at Carnon Mine.
Roundwood Quay (Cowlands Creek)
(a) J. Wellington
l872. W. R. T. Schooner 60 tons
1876 Bushman Schooner Unknown tonnage
(b) W. M. Burley & W. Hitchins
1877 William & John Schooner 83 tons
(c) H. S. Trethowan
1876 Flora - Schooner 99 tons
Launches unfinished at Little Falmouth and completed at Roundwood.
The site at Yard Point seems to have been used for ship building from an early date and members of the Ferris family were connected with it for many years. The early records showing builders names can be confusing and it is not easy to confirm the attributions to individual members of the Ferris family. There is also doubt sometimes whether a ship was built at Point or Pill.
According to Mr. Ben Ferris of Carnon Mine the Ferris family were running the yard when it was taken over by Mr. John Stephens in 1859 and William Ferris, known as "Foreman Ferris' stayed on there as designer and foreman throughout John Stephens' time, J. Stephens lived at “Valletort", St. Johns Terrace, Devoran.
(a) Thomas Ferris
1836 Two Brothers Smack 37 tons
1842 Elizabeth Ann Schooner 83 tons
1851 Clipper Schooner 114 tons
1853 Morwenna Schooner 51 tons
1854 William Henry Schooner 102 tons
1855 Jane & Catherine Schooner 99 tons
1896 Cock of the Walk Schooner 143 tons
1856 Mary Ann' Smack 33 tons
1856 Symmetry Cutter 30 tons
1857 March Hare Schooner 104 tons
This yard was advertised for sale 23/07/1859 (R.C.G.)
(b) Peter Ferris
1806 Caroline - Barge 43 tons
1819 William Thomas Barge 37 tons
1832 Union Barge 37 tons
1834 Amelia Smack 49 tons
1855 Mary Schooner 67 tons
1855 Weasel Schooner 81 tons
1855 Ariel Schooner 24 tons
1858 J. S. Τ. Schooner 127 tons
1858 Commodore Cutter 34 tons
1861 Charles Gray Smack 54 tons
1862 Deerfoot Schooner 129 tons
1865 Dream (yacht) Schooner 41 tons
(Some of these may have been built at Pill)
(c) William Ferris
1885 Cormorant Yawl 4.4 tons
(d) Willian Sara Martin
1861 Fear Not Cutter 21 tons
1861 Cordelia Williams Schooner 76 tons
1864 Golden Light Schooner 120 tons
(e) John Stephens
1859 Primus Schooner 59 tons
1865 Kate Sloop 19 tons
1866 Racer Schooner 67 tons
1867 Arrow (yacht) Schooner 17 tons
1868 Rhoda Mary schooner 150 tons
1869 North Star Steamer 29 tons
1870 Nelly Schooner 105 tons
1870 R.K.P. Schooner 76 tons
187l J.W.W. Schooner 75 tons
1872 Fanny Sloop 18 tons
1874 Goonlaze Schooner unknown tonnage
1875 Bessie Schooner 116 tons
1875 Gleaner Smack 42 tons
1876 Lizzie R. Wilce Schooner 175 tons
1877 Hetty Schooner 100 tons
These notes are only an interim result of an incomplete study of the original sources. Much work remains to be done on the written sources and also in discussion with local residents.
Picture of the Lizzie R. Wilce
Sources consulted up to date are: -
Lloyds register of shipping. Nat. Maritime Museum.
The Merchant Shipping Registers. Nat. Maritime Museum
Lloyds Certificates of Registry. Nat. Maritime Museum
Wreck Registers. Nat. Maritime Museum
Lloyds Shipping Lists. Guildhall Library.
Various Documents. County Record Office.
Files of the Royal Cornwall. By courtesy of Mr. Douch & Mr. Davies. Gazette & West Briton
“Merchant Schooners” by Basil Davidson.
The Rhoda Mary schooner. 150 tons, constructed by John Stephens
Taken from Feock History Notes Part 1 (p33-35)