Who’s this old boy then? I wonder, was he a singer, a step dancer or a fiddle or melodeon as well as a film star? Does anyone have a story to tell?
It turns out that they do – check the comments below.
This 1954 colour travelogue put up by the British Film Institute begins innocently enough with lots of the usual material about attractions and seaside resorts – but in the second half there’s some terrific film of sea fishing from small boats in that era. Well worth a few minutes, I’d say.
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Lowestoft sailing trawler, drawn by Rowland Hilder
‘… the life of the average fisherman of Britain – it is a never-ending “game of snakes and ladders,” and so accustomed is the fisherman to playing this game from the time he first goes to sea, that I am inclined to doubt that he would be happy if he was certain of always finding himself on a ladder.’
‘Most of the apprentices had been brought up in orphanages and
reformatory schools… The system produced splendid fishermen,
but the evils were many.’
The quotation comes from Anson himself, and he’s talking about the Grimsby fishing fleet. As a North Lincolnshire boy who grew up with the sons and daughters of at least a few fishing skippers, I’ve always had a bit of an interest in fishing communities, their boats and their songs, even though I have no interest at all in trying their difficult and dangerous trade myself. But I’ll say one thing – after reading Anson, I’ll forever think about the favourite hymns and songs that came out of fishing in the 19th century in a completely different way, for among other things they were the songs of boys who had no choice about the trade they had entered. Think of a bunch of pressed boys singing the words of Eternal Father Strong to Save, Three Score and Ten and Heave Away the Trawl Warp for a while, and you may see what I mean.
For a little more on Three Score and Ten, start here.