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ME Registered Boats

Fishing boats and other small craft were first required to register towards the end of the 18th century.

The need arose because because the coastguard authorities wished to be able to identify vessels at a distance: this allowed the coastguard to track and log vessels as they moved around the coast, making it easier to locate vessels reported as lost or missing.  It also facilitated import control and action against smuggling.


Vessels were required to be marked on either side near the bow in large clear lettering, normally black on a white rectangular background.  The registration codes are based on the port of registration, where possible being made up of the first and last letter of the name of the port concerned, e.g. ME represents Montrose.  The letter-code was augmented with a serial number allocated by the port authority. Registration was first introduced with the passage of the “Ship Registration Act” of September 1786.

Containing details of local vessels (Fishing Letters 'ME') and forming a fascinating historical resource, this information is made available here to download as an Excel spreadsheet. The information is taken from the Customs & Excise Records for Montrose and covers the period from 1869 to 1988, when a single, nation-wide register was introduced. The original Customs & Excise Records for Montrose are now held in the City Archives at Dundee. 

It is possible that users of the website may have details relating to individual vessels which are not recorded here: we would be very pleased to receive these details and, where appropriate, include them in this database. Photographs of vessels or crew would also be very welcome. Please contact us if you can help!


Many photos of ME registered boats can be found on the website .

Acknowledgements to Norman Trewren, ex Cox. Aberdeen Lifeboat, for his detailed research and recording, bringing the heritage of the Gourdon fishing industry of the past into the present day. Our thanks also to Dundee City Archives and Douglas Paterson:

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