The Sheer Hulk pub, in erstwhile Dockwall Street (long gone now, it later became Edinburgh Road at right angles to the bottom of Fore Street), was operating back in the eighteenth century when what was long regarded as one of the best-known and best-loved songs in the English language – ‘Tom Bowling’ – was most popular. The song was written by Charles Dibdin to honour the memory of his elder brother, Tom, who was 29 years his senior and who died at sea in India after the ship of which he was captain was struck by lightning. The song starts; “Here, a sheer hulk, lies poor Tom Bowling, The darling of our crew …”
Literally a sheer hulk is an old ship, stripped to the water-line and used as a platform for mounting the sheers employed in the process of lifting masts in and out of sailing ships. Clearly there would have been one or two of these vessels stationed off the Dockyard in the days of the wooden walled fighting ships.
1798 - Oliver Hancock
1838 - John Jenkins
1850 - Mary Ann Jenkins