MFV 1080 Admiralty Bell

Motor Fishing Vessel
Known as HMS Watchful

Fork Handle Revival always feel a great weight of responsibility when we handle historic items. The MFV 1080 Bell is a very good example of what Fork Handle will do. 
We have spent a great deal of time researching the history of the bell, capturing it and giving the bell a full provenance. The history of a piece doesn’t have to be glorious. More history is lost than saved which is why we have a responsibility to save what ever we can. 
Our stories are based on fact and evidence of which we will always try to provide a reference. When we must, we will make an educated assumption, but we will say so!

Dated History

11th October 1943 - Order raised by the Admiralty for a 75ft Motor Fishing Vessel for the Fisheries Protection Fleet.

June 1944 - Build completed by James Noble (Fraserburgh) Ltd
Generally, MFVs were wooden hulled motorised boats built for patrolling during WW2.  They could be directed for use as mine hunters/ layers, boom operators as well as recovery boats for downed pilots or seamen of damaged ships. 

1944 - HMS Watchful MFV 1080, post build, was immediately sent to the Mediterranean.

September 1948 - Back in Portsmouth

October 1948 – July 1955 - Fishery Protection Vessel in Portsmouth

25 March 1958 - Sold at Gosport - Orkney dive boat?

1961 - Registered at Leith

1980s - Moored in Fareham

1994 - End of Life?

Web & Other References

Ships Nostalgia had a post which read; 'MVF 1080 went to Orkney, to serve on the Southern isles run for Bremner's of Stromness, named Watchful. In 1976 she was sold off & went South. In 1979 she was sold to a couple of guys who intended to convert her for diving charters, to be based somewhere on the south with YoYo of Southampton. '

An email received from a gentleman who worked for Lloyds register told us the following; 'Later she became private motorboat 'Watchful' and was moored in the Wareham Channel, Dorset, 7/89 to 9/83, went ashore in high winds 1994 and was blown up by the Royal Marines'

Picture Reference and text from the Imperial War Museum Four Motor Fishing Vessels (MFV 1080 and MFV 1028 in front) tied up in the flooded dock of HMS EASTWAY. The ramp is up, ready for the dock to be emptied. The photograph was taken whilst the landing ship dock was operating off the coast of Greenock

Fork Handle New Resesarch

We contacted the Royal Marines (Poole) Archives, they had just been contacted by the officer who laid and fired the charges on HMS Watchful after it became “A Danger to Shipping”.
The officer took this picture (see right) of the hull immediately after he blew the charges! This is new evidence in the history of the ship. Fork Handle Revival have now found images to show the start and end of life of HMS Watchful and we are continuing to research the history. We have several areas that we want to find more evidence for.

We are continuing to research the history and have several areas that we would like more evidence for;

Mentions or photographic evidence.  This is proving very difficult ​because the main story in the Mediterranean conflict (Tobruk, escape from Crete & the Maltese Siege etc) was ended in 1943.  HMS Watchful wouldn't have arrived until the end of 1944.

A PHOTOGRAPH WITH THE BELL IN VIEW - We have been so lucky to find the evidence we have but not one picture shows the bell! From the many conversations we have had we believe the bell may have been removed when it was sold from service in 1948.

YOYO DIVING SOLENT? - Being local to us, we are hoping they have some information that confirms their ownership and anything else they may be able to tell us.


If you loved this story, why not click on the links below to find out more about some of the incredible pieces that we have revived?