The steel steamship Lawrence Hughson was ordered from the yard of Rennie and Forrest, Wivenhoe by the Admiralty in 1918 but did not enter war service as the war ended that year. She was sold to Stringers Steam Fishing Company of Boston in 1919 and renamed Elloe and operated for this company as a trawler until she was sold to her final owners, George Paton of Glasgow. In early 1925 she was registered GN37 at Granton fishing mainly in the North Sea fishing grounds. She measured 115.4′ x 22.5′ x 12.1′ and her tonnage was 202 gross ton, 87 net tons. She was powered by a reciprocating triple expansion steam engine by A G Mumford Ltd., Colchester delivering 430 ihp.
She was to escape when she ran aground near Dunnet Head in fog on 30th March, 1932 but five years later she was not to be so lucky. On 1st February, 1937 she sailed from Leith under the command of skipper Philip Stevenson who had a crew of nine men aboard. A routine and successful fishing trip off the east side of Orkney ended six days later when the skipper set their course south for the return home at 5 am that morning.
By 3:30 pm that day they were east of Buchan Ness and two hours later off Girdle Ness where the skipper altered course to SW by S. This course was maintained as they passed Tod Head lighthouse and at that point two deckhands, Robert Greig and Adam Grant, took over the watch on the bridge. As they passed Bell Rock Grant was at the wheel and alone on the bridge as Greig worked on repairing one of the nets damaged on the trip. The instructions to Grant were to keep the course steady till North Carr lightship was spotted where a slight adjustment to SW could be made to take her towards the entrance to the Forth. For some reason, this adjustment was made earlier than instructed. Shortly after, as all the hands came on deck and the North Carr slipped past of the starboard side, one of the crew suggested a further adjustment to WSW. Grant obliged and the trawler swung on to the new course. Finally the skipper appeared on the bridge and took over the wheel but, almost immediately, the River Avon ran aground. It was 11:30 pm on 7th February.
The River Avon was to become a total wreck although all the crew escaped ashore safely. The inquiry into the grounding and loss held the skipper responsible for the loss of his vessel although he was not at the wheel at the time of the stranding. He had left two relatively inexperienced hands in charge of the trawler and had not come on deck when they reached the critical point of the voyage where they had to turn westwards round the rocky shore at Fifeness and head into the more confined waters of the Firth of Forth.