Captain Fred Collins

Captain Fred Collins
From the private collection of Robert Ettridge
John and Emily Collins
From the private collection of Robert Ettridge

Captain Collins is an ancestor of mine, famous for his fleet of pleasure boats which sailed off of Brighton beach at the bottom of West Street. The fleet continued to sail until just after the Second World War under his son, also a Fred Collins, although nearly all of the boats were lost at Dunkirk.

The second photograph shows my great grandfather, John Collins (1866-1960), who was a Brighton fisherman. He was related to Captain Fred Collins and was also a distant descendant of Martha Gunn. The photograph was taken on the occasion of a wedding anniversary and shows my great grandmother Emily Collins, nee Harvey (1865-1954).

Comments about this page

  • My grandfather Thomas Goble born 1884, Brighton, died 1952 was a member of the crew of the Skylark, and was involved in the Dunkirk Run. The Skylark l believe was owned by the Collins or Leach family. Does any body have any info on Thomas Goble.

    By Sheila Jones (10/01/2008)
  • Hi Robert. So nice to read your posting, especially the pics you have kindly put on the system. Capt Fred Collins is of particular interest to me as he was related on my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. My grandfather was Edward Thomas Collins who was the son of William Henry Collins and Ellen Harman. My great grandfather’s father was Edward William Collins whom, I understand, was the brother of Capt Fred. In Capt Fred’s obituary, mention is made of condolences by crew members, amongst which was Thomas Harman who was the brother of my great grandmother. I would absolutely love it if you would be prepared to share more about the family history with me and I can be contacted on It would be lovely to hear from you.

    By Joan, Cape Town, South Africa (22/01/2008)
  • Was your great grandfather John Collins the son of Jacob Collins and Sarah Ann Harman? If so, my grandfather, Frederick Philip Collins (1875-1935), was his brother who married Florence Ann Pattenden in 1898.

    By David Collins (09/02/2009)
  • To David Collins: I was very interested to read that your grandfather married Florence Ann Pattenden in 1898. I wonder if you have any more details about Florence’s parents. I am trying to see where she fits in with my family tree. Capt. Fred Collins was rumored to be the father of my maternal grandmother, Florence, whose daughter Florence married Sydney Pattenden in 1934, and produced me in 1942.

    By Nick Pattenden (28/04/2009)
  • To Nick Pattenden. Sorry for the delay, I have not looked at this site for some time. My Grandmother Florence Ann Pattenden’s father was Albert Pattenden 1834-1902. Born in Burwash, married Louisa Wright 1861 in Camberwell. My Frederick Philip Collins is not the Captain

    By David Collins (28/06/2009)
  • Captain Collins was my great, great, great, great uncle and I’m doing a project on him.

    By Olivia (13/09/2009)
  • I’m a direct descendant. I have (somewhere) newspaper cuttings of the time when Capt. Collins took Queen Victoria out on one of his pleasure boats. He was also a well respected Music Hall singer. I think right to my Dad’s time they were all called Fred or Alf but Dad (or maybe Mom) decided to call me Graham. My Dad died in 1997 aged 86. I’m 64.

    By Graham Collins (18/03/2010)
  • He was my great great great great great uncle too. We’ve got a copy of a newspaper article the day after he died.

    By Cameron (07/10/2010)
  • Cap. Collins was my great, great, great, great, great, grandad. My great grandad was the grandson of Captain Fred and his father was Fredrick Collins.

    By Tamara (09/10/2011)
  • Captain Fred Collins was my father’s great uncle. Does anyone have any information about Captain Collins’ siblings?

    By Sharon (29/08/2012)
  • Sharon, there is info about the captain’s siblings on this website:-

    By Howard Bardsley (18/10/2012)
  • Captain Fred Collins was my great, great, great, great great g/father.

    By Faith Prince (was Collins) (30/07/2013)
  • To Nick Pattenden and David Collins: My grandfather is Frederick Philip Collins (1875) and my grandmother Florence Ann Pattenden. Frederick’s father is Jacob Collins and Florence’s father is Albert Pattenden. I would love to hear from you both to exchange information.

    By Hazel Handford (22/01/2014)
  • Captain Fred Collins was the brother of my great, great grandfather, William Edward Collins. He was also a distant relative of Martha Gunn, the famous dipper (direct descendent of Martha’s brother, Friend Killick).

    By Michael Jeggo (26/05/2014)
  • My friend has been looking into my family tree for me. My nan, Florence Rogers (nee Collins), told me we were related to Captain Collins but I never knew how. I had a picture of him. I have now found out he was my great great granddad, Robert Collins Gillam’s brother. It is so nice to read your article. 

    By Karen Swain (11/07/2014)
  • Karen Swain – I don’t know how much you know about your ancestors prior to Robert Collins Gillam – if you do want to know more I have some info going back several generations – you can email me at

    By Michael (19/07/2014)
  • Hello, Captain Fred Collins was my great great great grandfather.My name is Graham Collins and my father was Alfred Collins. I live at WR74AL

    By Graham Collins (16/04/2015)
  • Graham Collins, so interesting to hear you live in WR4. I live nearby in Redditch, originally from Brighton and related to Capt. Collins too. However, I know it is unlikely you will see this as your comment was three years ago :) 

    By Toki (31/10/2018)
  • I have a photograph taken on August 4th 1888 which shows a group of boats and holidaymakers – one boat has “FRED COLLINS” in bold print on a sail.

    By GEOFFREY THURSFIELD (28/04/2019)
  • Was the Montgomery & Alexander part of the “fleet”?

    By Graham Ingram (31/01/2023)

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