Mrs Lillian Bilocca and her campaign following the 1968 Hull trawler disaster

Courage and Effect - fishing safety

I must listen to this while it’s still available… The Hull triple trawler disaster in which 58 men died led trawlerman’s wife Mrs Lillian Bilocca and her friends to mount a campaign for better safety. ‘Something, they demanded, had to be done before more men died.’

They were successful, not least because they acted quickly and in the full blaze of publicity. The Wikipedia (link above) reports that ‘trawler owners were instructed to implement new safety arrangements based on the outcome of the meeting, with immediate effect’.

See British Pathé’s newsreel film about the tragedy. Brian Lavery, presenter of the BBC radio programme has also written a book about the event and the subsequent campaign.

Of course, this was in the era before the health and safety regime we have today greatly reduced the number of people injured or killed in our more dangerous industries. Still I wonder… A pal tells a story about going to sea a decade later (though not in trawlers) and finding that the lifeboats weren’t seaworthy. I guess inspection and action are as important as writing the rules in the first place.

My thanks to Chris Brady for the tipoff.

PS – We listened to this last night. The work of an ex-national newspaper journalist, it’s a damning indictment of the way the fishing industry worked in years gone by – and of the way the national media treated women, and still does.

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