The story of Skipper Lake

Posted on Thursday 17th March 2016

In June 2015, South Wales Superintendent Chrissy King was contacted by Mr Mick Lake. A holiday trip to Pembrokeshire had lead Mick and his wife to research Skipper Lake, Mick’s great grandfather. Skipper Lake had served for ten years as the ‘Mission man’ in Milford Haven. Documents and archives for the period were scarce but together Mick and Chrissy pieced together the remarkable story of Skipper Lake.

Born in 1877 Thomas Harry ‘Skipper’ Lake joined the Fishermen’s Mission in 1891 as a 14 year old boy. In its early days the Fishermen’s Mission was a floating Missionary Society with a number of converted fishing smacks making up the ‘Mission Fleet’.

By 1902 Skipper Lake was at sea and in 1912 he took command of MV Alice Fisher. The First World War took Skipper Lake to Scappa Flow to skipper MV Euston, providing amenities for minesweepers and patrol boats.

The Milford Haven Institute for fishermen was opened in October 1898 and in 1918 Skipper Lake was posted there to take control. He was held in very high esteem as shown in surviving documents from the time. The Vicar of Milford Haven commenting on his work with local fishermen speaks of his “constant devotion to their highest welfare.”

In 1928 Skipper Lake was posted to the Gorleston Institute where he served until his retirement in 1942. In total he served the Fishermen’s Mission as man and boy for 51 years. He was truly a remarkable “Mission Man”.