Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



SS Woodtown



Built 1915  R.Williamson & Son, Workington

as the FRESHET

794 tons

186ft 3ins x 29ft 4ins x l2ft 4ins

95n.hp; triple-expansion engines.


Registered London, except as “Dunvegan Head”.

1915 FRESHET Ernest H. Sollas.

1917 DORETTA  T.G. Beatley & Son; Owner Thomas H. Brooke.

1920 Renamed MADAME DORETTA same owner.

1921 MADAME DORETTA Constantine & Donking Steamship Co Ltd;

         Managers  R.A. Constantine & Donking, Ltd.

1923 MADAME DORETTA West Yorkshire Steam Shipping Co Ltd;

         Managers H.S. Greenacre.

1931 DUNVEGAN HEAD A.F. Henry & Macgregor Ltd, Leith

1936 WOODTOWN Woodtown Shipping Co Ltd (Comben, Longstaff & Co Ltd).


15th November 1939

¾ mile NE of Spit Buoy, near Margate, under way Newlyn to London with granite.

Struck a mine and sank.

Eight of her 13 crew were lost.

WOODTOWN was the fourth vessel of 14 to be sunk by this mine barrage.

More detail on the MV SAN CALISTO page.


A silent, tight-lipped crowd lined the sea-front of a British resort on Thursday as the local lifeboat brought ashore four injured men - all that were left of the crew of 13 of the 800-ton British steamer Woodtown, a ship which calls at Newlyn for stone and whose crew are well-known locally. On board was a Penzance man. who was also well-known in Newlyn - Mr. Andrew Harvey, of Penalverne Crescent, Penzance. News has been received that he was amongst those killed. Mr. Harvey, who was 38 years of age and unmarried, was the elder son of Mr. Robert ("Bobbie") Harvey, a 72-year-old Penzance resident who is well-known to local yachtsmen, fishermen and seamen. Like his father, he was a skilled boatman. Profound sympathy will be extended to his father, in the grief natural to such a sudden loss. Only on Monday Mr. Andrew Harvey joined the Woodtown on being informed she was a man short. "A very nice man" was how he was described to the "Evening Tidings", this afternoon by one who knew him intimately through his association with amateur fishing circles. The Woodtown sank in 30 seconds after an explosion which tore her from stem to stem.




Cornish Granite has been carried by sea to London for centuries.

Mainly from Penryn and Lamorna; there are also quarries at

CheeseRing; Delank which was used for the Eddystone lighthouse,

and Par which has been exported in large quantities

and used in the Fastnet lighthouse.

John Watts was appointed by Sir Christopher Wren

to select granite from Cornwall to be used in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Mr Gray was given the contract to supply granite for the Waterloo Bridge.

The strongrooms of the Bank of England were built with Cornish Granite.

Lamorna quarries, provided the granite for the London Embankment, the headquarters of the LCC in Central London, Alderney and Portland breakwaters, Dover Admiralty Pier, New Scotland Yard, the Cafe Monaco in Piccadilly, London;

as well as the Wolf Rock and Longships Lighthouses.

New quarries were opened up between Mousehole and Newlyn.

One of the first clues of the start of quarrying at Penlee

( or Gwavas as it was earlier known ),

is the record of a burial at Paul, dated 2nd  March 1886.

That of  John Ray of Sheffield aged 29

(Killed by explosion dynamite Gwavas Quarry).

The original quarry was run in 1883 by Mr. James Runnalls.

The granite contained a harder rock known locally as blue elvan ( geologically: diabase or greenstone, a hard igneous rock ). It was produced generally for roadmaking, its special properties having been discovered by John Loudon MacAdam in 1798, when he was a Navy victualling officer in Falmouth. Elvan, when tested, had a crushing strength of 29,000 Ibs. per square inch, compared with 17,500 Ibs. for Mountsorrel (Leics.) granite. Runnalls had a crushing mill at Tolcarne, Newlyn, powered by a 20 ft. by 9 ft. water wheel, and he shipped great quantities of the crushed stone to ports in Wales. These quarries closed in the late 1880's, and were replaced by the present Penlee quarry in Newlyn.

From 1922, Arnold Snell operated the quarry.

The granite was moved by cart to Penzance Harbour, if  in large blocks for working or, if it was in gravel or chippings form,

by rail ( the most south westerly railway in Britain ) between the quarry and

Stone Boat Pier, Newlyn Harbour, drawn by “Janner’s steam engine” –

which was built 1901 (works Nr 73 ) by

Stahlbahnwerke Freudenstein of Templehof, Germany.


Raymond Forward