Tributes to the Ibex created with Oak Ribs from the wreck site of the Famous Brixham Fishing Ketch BM27 Ibex.
The Ibex, BM27 (Formerly DH416) 50 GRT. Designed and owned by Mr Andrew Upham, was launched on the 8th November 1896 and cost £490 including an extra bowsprit, she was destined to be the fastest ever trawler ever to set sail out of Brixham.
Ibex was built at Upham’s Wharf, Brixham by J.W. & A. Upham.
In edition to building wooden vessels of all types, J.W. & A. Upham also owned seven to eight fishing smacks.
The Ibex, skippered by John Henry Widger for 18 years from 1899 won a total of 29 firsts in 33 races. As she was originally built she had a 39 1/2 ft rig but dragged more than she could carry so the mast was cut down to 38ft rig.
Brixham Trawlers were at their best in heavy weather. “She went over the seas like a lifeboat, very rare to take water aboard, could walk about deck in carpet slippers” said The Skipper also known as Jack to his friends
The speed of the Ibex was remarkable.
At Five O’Clock one evening they left Trevose Head and landed the catch next morning at 8 am. on Plymouth quay, 140miles away.
One trip from Brixham earned £57.0.0d, 400 pairs of soles were taken on the ground off St. Ives and although a dead beat back, the haul was landed at the home port four days after leaving it. Another Saturday they were working on the ground off Milford Haven, at 2pm St. Anne’s Head was abeam. The wind was foul for working down the Bristol Channels, Jack kept Ibex off towards Ireland for 6 hours, then lay south on the other tack the first light seen was red flash from Round Is. lighthouse on the Scillies. The Wind came aft so they squared away for the run up Channel and Jack made fast to the pier at Brixham about Sunday dinner time. Another Smack which sailed at the same time did not come in till the Wednesday.
With such sailing qualities it is not surprising that Ibex flew a string of winning flags from taffrail to topmast head and finally had to drop out of racing at the regattas as no-one would sail against her, the result being a foregone conclusion. This
did not suit owner or Skipper so after a year or two’s absence it was decided to reduce her sail plan. The mizzen mast was shifted two feet further forward and a corresponding length cut off the main boom. When she came out again the wiseacres said she would do nothing now her wings were clipped, but she did, romping home a winner by 15 minutes,
The committees then asked Mr Upham not to race her again and she sailed no more at the regattas.
The war came and when U Boat sinkings began, Ibex was laid up for a while and Skipper Jack was in Gazelle when his old command was sunk by gunfire 14 miles S.E. by E. off Berry Head. Other smacks put down that day were the 40 ton Addax, the 45 ton General Leman and the 40 ton Perseverance. Jack saw them being shelled and undoubtedly Gazelle would have shared the same fate , but luckily the submarine submerged and made off when a patrol boat came hurrying up.
Sadly, Ibex encountered the German U Boat U55 on January 29th 1918 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Ralph Wennenger, the Ibex crew of four men and a boy where instructed to man the lifeboat. Crew from U55 then machine gunned and subsequently Ibex was sent to the bottom. (No lives lost)
Fast Forward 99 years: timbers from the wreck site were caught in the nets of a local fishing trawler and brought to the surface. These timbers have been slowly dried out over the last two years, sculpted and treated with many coats of danish oil and polyurethane gloss applied to give a “still wet” look. Vintage Brass Cleats, Fairleads, Bells, and Clocks have been added and existing copper nails still in the timber have been restored. Hemp rope has been threaded through existing holes.
Premium quality shades from Cream Cornwall depicting shipwrecks have been carefully chosen to make each piece totally unique.