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.

Hull’s 400-year old Inuit kayak, the Bonny Boat

Hull's Bonny Boat

Did you know that historic Trinity House in Hull has a traditional Inuit kayak hanging in one of its rooms?

It seems that Captain Andrew Barker from Hull commanded a ship called the Heartsease on an early 17th century expendition to Greenland in search of mineral wealth, and that while sailing they found an Inuit kayak with an exhausted Inuit inside. The poor man sadly died, but he is remembered by his kayak and a likeness of himself, and a nearby pub known as The Bonny Boat.

There’s a little about Barker here and here.

My thanks to Liz Davenport for alerting me to this story!

The Cold Coast of Iceland

Call my romantic, call me soft-hearted, but in winter and particularly around Christmas I often think of those who are busy at sea, carrying the world’s goods or fishing, or protecting their homelands in hostile often bitterly cold and difficult conditions.

Tough men, they must be, and to go with that thought, here’s a tough little song performed by diamond Hull geezer Mike Waterson.