Pirates of Penzance
National Maritime Museum
Dear Mr Stengelhofen,
Re:”SHAMROCK the PIRATES of PENZANCE” SEA SALVAGE BARGE that led its owner nearly behind bars.
I thank you for your letter of 14th December 1983 and note that you require some history about the “SHAMROCK”. Well I give you all the information I can remember of it from the time I purchased it on Hayle Causeway Sands. I went to see it when it was in the hands of a mining company who were using it for dredging under the sea bed off St.Ives.
It was experimenting with their searches to see how much tin was in St. Ives Bay and when they laid it up I purchased same but it was in a bit of a rough state and it had been fitted with Twin Perkins Diesel Engines, twin screw. I bought it for my new Company, set up known - as CORNWALL SEA SALVAGE Company, me being the owner and Company Director. But I called in a PILOT who joined me, i.e. was CAPTAIN SILAS OATES, a well-known character in the Plymouth area today in boats etc. When we started after buying it for a few Hundreds of pounds, it was given odd repairs, and was PAINTED. We had thought it was something out of this world because of its age being STAMPED on one of the STRUCTURE BEAMS its 1890’s date region, but did not realise it was ever worth what’s its worth today, or before we sold it for your MUSEUM. We had it sooner or later working off PENZANCE and went out SALVAGING for WRECKS, or scattered parts of wrecks, looking for Propellers of bronze or any METALS of value in the main, plus GUNS or ancient items or COINS or whatever we may come up against. As I am not a sea going person I left it all in the hands of the Captain but I carried often the DYNAMITE to the Boat so to blast off the VALUABLE METALS when found off the PENZANCE COAST LINES to LIZARD, off the LIGHTHOUSES, to LANDS END and around to PENDEEN, ZENNOR, ST.IVES areas. Our crew were a mighty rough lot, they use to be sitting around the Fire with the HIGH DANGER DYNAMITE around them. So I stood at home and waited for the rewards to be landed at Penzance Quay, but I had such a bunch of DIVERS that they knew more about cheating than they knew about honesty. And because I never went out to see what was going on and on, they were bringing home the REWARDS, but they never came in until dark often, and when they came in they had a TRUCK on hand to unload it and carry it away to some places unknown to me and having had to believe them. It was sooner or later learnt that they were seeing me off and the VALUABLE METALS etc. were being handled off “SHAMROCK” when I was in bed, but I sooner or later caught up with them, and they again beaten me, they took it up to PLYMOUTH out of me reach. As I was in other and other Business’s so I had not any control over them for I could not pilot any boat, not even a Punt. However this crew were no other than PIRATES, they were PIRATES OF PENZANCE and they got in trouble here, there and everywhere, all beyond my control. I could not see any other than facing all the bills, the SHIP/”SHAMROCK” began to be one of a LIABILITY to me, never knew next when the POLICE were coming for me, caused by the PIRATES. They were acting LIVING LIKE PIRATES; they really believed they were “THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE”. They were like me, rather UNEDUCATED, but my HONESTY was overpowered. My honesty did not fit in and so I got NOTHING OUT OF that set UP SEA SALVAGE COMPANY Business. Poor old “SHAMROCK” led me into trouble. I cannot blame “SHAMROCK” , it was the Crew acting like “PIRATES OF PENZANCE” they got involved in Court cases and they got away with most of their cases being PIRATES. How on earth they never got drowned, I cannot tell, for I have seen them DRAGGING IN from LANDS END, huge PROPELLERS strapped up on the side of this little sailing barge. It was HAMMERED TO DEATH, and they ran up bills here, there and everywhere that I had to be liable for. It began to be one hell of a mass burden and it was pointless to sue them because they had nothing, or you just cannot get blood out of a stone, or get blood out of these “PIRATES OF PENZANCE”. So, sooner or later whilst it was at Plymouth, when they ran it to DEATH, it was in Plymouth Harbour running up harbour fees, and I ordered it to be towed to Loo Lake somewhere off Plymouth, and it was then unfit to be taken to Falmouth and so I was DOOMED. It was a DOOMED COMPANY from the time I engaged the DIVERS of DISHONESTY until I was FORCED to see it be SOLD for as low as £100 region, there was no alternative for me. But this is, was “SHAMROCK’S” history of its SLAVERY WORK it carried on whilst I owned it, was WORKED SLAVED TO DEATH, and I really sold it for SCRAP, but the buyer seen more value in it than I could see at the time when today it’s PRICELESS.