Olsen's Fisherman's Nautical Almanack was a standard reference for the fishing industry from its first publication in 1876 until the last edition in 2000. It was published by ETW Dennis Ltd of Scarborough, which went into receivership in 2000 and was wound up in 2009.
Olsen's Almanack included sections on tide information, ready-reckoners, navigation directions and, what is now of most interest, various directories of fishing vessels. The ships included are mostly larger vessels, which hence had official numbers. The data appears to have been drawn from a variety of sources, which are likely to have included the returns of fishing vessels produced by the Registry of Shipping and Seaman.
Copies of Olsen's Almanack are not easy to find in libraries and archives and no images or transcripts are available online apart from the ones displayed on this site. Many archives and some reference libraries and museums near fishing ports have runs from the end of the 20th century, but editions from the inter-war years are not easy to find and only a few large repositories have editions prior to World War I. The earliest surviving editions date from the 1880s and are held at the Bartlett Library at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Cambridge University Library and the National Library of Scotland. A list of the holdings which we have been able to find is shown here.
The CLIP image viewer provides a convenient way to view and search copies of the Olsen's Almanack.
The information for ships was divided into several sections:
Not all these sections appear in every edition; the early editions only have the list of ships by port.
You can search for the entries for a particular ship, and/or browse through page-by-page or year-by-year.
Choose a year first. The form will change to show the sections available for that year.
To search for a ship in the alphabetic list, enter the ship's name and then click Search.
Alternatively, to browse the images select one of the sections using the buttons on the right of the form.
There are more details on how to use the controls on the viewer in a notes file on that page.
We are glad to thank the following for their kind assistance in making images available:The late George Scales who borrowed the early Almanacs from ETW Dennis and photocopied the ship and port registrations, and George Westwood who digitised them. The original photo copies are in trust with the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre along with the entire digital copies 1877 to 2000.
The images of later editions were made by Richard Potter of the Caledonian Maritime Research Trust from editions of the almanac in private hands. We thank him for his hard work in preparing the good quality images that are the basis of this resource.
Our thanks to Norman Stewart for the images of the 1966 edition and to Frank Pook for the 1930 edition.
Trevor Hallifax who runs the Grimsby Trawlers web site has kindly provided us with sets of images and also loaned copies which Richard Potter has digitised. Thank you Trevor.
We are grateful for permission to make images of the editions held at the Bartlett Library at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth.
The source of each image set is shown on the title bar, with a link to the organisation's web site.
Prior to publishing these images online, CLIP investigated the position in relation to copyright. We made extensive enquiries, following a long trail through fishing industry publications, picture postcard publishers, the Intellectual Property Office, the official receivers, and the Treasury Solicitor Bona Vacantia Division, who hold the remaining assets of ETW Dennis Ltd.
From these enquiries, our understanding is that collections of facts, like the lists of fishing vessels in Olsen's Almanack, can not be copyright.
To confirm our understanding, we made a diligent search for further information and for anyone who might claim copyright in Olsen's Almanack.
One section of the almanac - the tide tables - carries a notice, specific to that section, that they should not be reproduced, but those are not the sections we are hosting on this site. The rest of the almanck has no copyright information.
We made further searches, contacting people who have knowledge of the last years of Olsen's and other sources as described above. None of these enquiries showed any claims to copyright.
We therefore concluded that it would be highly unlikely that we would be infringing copyright by publishing images of the fishing vessels data. It is not our intention to make any financial gain from the images, which are made available for free to assist maritime researchers. We do not wish to infringe anyone's copyright by doing this. If you feel that our understanding is not correct, please contact us via the link above.
If you own copies of Olsen's Almanack and would be willing to contribute good quality images of editions which we do not currently include, do please get in touch with CLIP using the contact details on the menu bar above. Scanners and, with care, smart-phones can produce adequate images. There are one or two technical considerations which can make processing the images simpler so it might be best to contact us before making the images, rather than afterwards. We will, of course, acknowledge any assistance but please note that we are a volunteer project and are not able to pay for images.