The life of Scarborough fishermen

"6 of us here where our lives depended on getting the right conditions, and there was many a time when you got caught out at sea and the weather sometimes got that so bad that you could not get back into Scarborough harbour. So you would be sent to either Whitby or Bridlington. These conditions happened about 3 times when we were on watch when we had to divert Tom and Fred's lad and Tom to Bridlington or to Whitby depending on which way the wind was, if it was a strong northerly we tried to get em to Bridlington because Whitby was out of the question or if it was south easterly you get em to Whitby. But sea conditions that was your main hazard and you had to watch forecasts and everything. When seas been hitting far pier we've seen it as high as the toll house hitting that. As high as that tower and into back of it". Bill Pashby

"Fred is the only one I've sailed with fishing he was a partner with me dad. A cobble mans life is the hardest we'd call them iron men in wooden ships because conditions with lining, when you shorten your line you had to haul them all back by hand, you'd wrap a cloth around your hand thumb and finger called the dag cloth where the line sat in. So after hauling the lines for hours on end this line just cut across there, when its cold and the line was cutting into your hand you wouldn't realise because it been so cold, when it dried out your hands would crack it would be painful, you couldn't feel your fingers so what wed do to get your fingers warmed up, we on them we'd wee on our hands. It got better for my generation than it did for theirs, fishing a hard life but its a lot more comfortable for me 20 years younger than these lads than it was for me. We'd work about 300-400 pots as much as a boat would work, it would take all day, lifted by hand, emptied, baited shot again from 3 in the morning. Now one man can work the same amount of pots". Tom Rowley

"I first started fishing when I left school at 14 years old I finished fishing when I was about 76, between times with 6 years in navy did about 2 years in merchant navy, apart from that I was fishing all the time. I started off in a cobble, I had to turn a box upside down to reach the pot hauler, a hydraulic hauler. If pot was going round and round hauler you couldn't reach handles to stop it you'd have to get the main hydraulic hauler down below to stop it. If you didn't get it, it knock you out. 3 men on a boat 2 others and me myself went with Tom Scales, Ade Bayes, line fishing, started in October and went on to about April, January, February, March to April, work 16 lines a day, while we were at sea, they'd be women and men at the warehouse getting the next days bait and lines ready. As they come in land in the fish put your lines ashore get the baited lines back in the boat and sometimes you'd use tarpaulin for covering them up in the boat, they weren't nylon like they are nowadays you can fold up. They were big, canvas that stiff, you'd have to hand em over the side in the salt water so you could fold them up. Otherwise you could do nowt with em. Your hand would get terribly cold, we'd wear a pair of woolen gloves with fingers cut of so we could use our fingers".

"When I came out of the navy there were loads and loads of steam trawlers back then, we'd go for 8 days fishing, come in and land then go for another 8 days, come in and land then come home for the weekend and back again. I got fed up with traveling I went to Grimsby to Shields, that was similar, everything was different then taffy nets, twine nets but now they are all nylon". Fred Normandale

"If there's Green in the Sky its a bad sign, and see them clouds rising up at the horizon, we call them Norwegian judges. That's a bad sign too". Bill Pashby


Share this article

Request our email newsletter for all our latest news and information
Contact us

01723 369361
scarboroughmaritime@yahoo.com
45 Eastborough, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1NH, England

We are here

Opening times

Monday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
Closed
Tuesday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
Closed
Wednesday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
11am - 4pm
Thursday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
11am - 4pm
Friday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
11am - 4pm
Saturday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
11am - 4pm
Sunday
.......................
........................................................
.......................
11am - 4pm
© SCARBOROUGH MARITIME HERITAGE CENTRE LIMITED
Registered charity No 1144532. Company No 06755717.