More tales crackling over the trawler band

AHOY there, me hearties! Today, let’s figuratively put to sea again as we look again at two topics recently aired in this column: Trawler wavebands on some domestic wireless sets enabling families at home to listen to their menfolk sending reassuring messages from the fishing grounds;and the former Great Yarmouth pleasure cruiser Golden Galleon, ignominiously scrapped a few years ago.

I recalled that during the autumn herring season, my drifterman Dad tried to speak to us by radio every night, bringing comfort to my mother and me listening on our Invicta wireless at home in Gorleston. It was a common practice of yesteryear. We could not reply, of course.

My feature brought a message from Mrs Jean Samuels, of Yare Road, Belton, saying it sparked memories for her mother, 78-year-old Mrs Gladys Brooks (nee Hubbard), of Browston: “Gladys remembers her grandfather John (“Jack/Slacks”) Hubbard and his wife Eliza (nee Brown) listening on their trawler band radio at their home, 40 Alderson Road, Yarmouth.

“Their son, also John (also known as Jack/Slacks) would broadcast a message always prefaced with ‘Calling number 40!’ so that John senior and Eliza knew it was Slacks junior calling and were able to hear all was well at sea with young John and the crew, some of whom were his cousins and uncles, members of Eliza Brown’s family.

“Gladys was also reminded by your article that not only did the Scottish fishermen dominate the airwaves at certain times with their high-speed chatter, but also that on Sundays they would sing hymns over the trawler band.

“There was no fishing for the Scots on Sundays. Mother thinks although this was a religious observance, enabling the Scottish fishermen to attend church. Sundays were also ‘recovery days’. But once the clock had struck midnight, the boats would sail again to catch another haul of herring, because it was then technically Monday.”

According to Mrs Hubbard, the Star and Garter pub on Hall Quay was a no-go area for locals – “The Scottish fishermen would drink in there and once one or two whiskies were partaken, they would fight anyone and the place would be alive with numerous punch-ups taking place.

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“Any local wanting to avoid trouble, or a ‘Glasgow kiss’, would steer well clear. So it is not a surprise that they did not sail until just past midnight on Monday.”

My recollection is that the whole herring fleet stayed in port over Saturday night and it was then that the numerous punch-ups flared up between the Scottish fishermen and Yarmouthians. The next morning the Yarmouth drifters headed for the fishing grounds but the Scots observed the Sabbath, despite some nursing hangovers, black eyes and bruised knuckles.

Mrs Samuels added: “Jack junior continued a sea-going life way past retirement right into his early 80s and he could be seen at the helm of a pleasure boat – possibly the Queen of the Broads – taking holidaymakers on trips on the Broads.”

Incidentally, Gladys’s grandfather was one of the three survivors of the Caister lifeboat disaster of November 1901. Nine lifeboatmen drowned beneath the capsized Beauchamp close to the beach, and three were hauled to safety from under her.

Another correspondent responded to my article about the former Royal Navy launch Golden Galleon. Until he read my column Robert Keenan, of Englands Lane, Gorleston, was unaware that owner John Knight had a daughter – Mrs Elizabeth-Ann Gibbs, in Wales – but surprised that I mentioned neither his wife, Joan, nor son John.

“Joan Knight was a well-known lady with her tall and distinguished hair-style,” he writes.

“During the trips on the Golden Galleon she narrated on the public address system the various landmarks on the journey. One can recall still her saying ‘On the left are the Roman ruins of Burgh Castle’ as we passed by.

“Mrs Knight did tell me that they slept one winter on the Golden Galleon...and they nearly froze to death!

“My daughter, Denise, worked for a while in the tea galley, with my wife Eileen helping out at times. They lived near the Knights’ house on Main Cross Road and my wife did domestic cleaning for them. Sadly, my wife and daughter are both deceased.”

Mr Keenan adds: “My last memory of the Golden Galleon was with my wife, daughter and young grand-daughter, coming into into Stonecutters Way. My grand-daughter stuck her head through the porthole and we had moments of panic before we were able to extricate her before making contact with the quay.”

The rusting hulk of the pleasure craft was broken up at St Olaves when her current owner could not be traced, and she was threatening to be a danger to navigation. “What a shame the Golden Galleon came to such a sad end,” comments Robert Keenan.

Mrs Gibbs had sent me snaps of people enjoying a cruise on the Golden Galleon and one of a uniformed man on the quayside, asking if anyone could identify them. That resulted in Penny Bailey reporting: “My husband and brother-in-law are fairly certain that the photo of the elderly gent in a captain’s hat was their grandfather, Frederick George Harris DSC, GSM (1884-1954) who lived on Anson Road and skippered the Galleon when they were children, so that was probably in the very late 1940s/early 1950s.

“Mr Harris’s father-in-law was Alfred George Crisp who was coxswain of the Elizabeth Simpson lifeboat. I have seen her logbook and Alfred’s brother was also a coxswain. The logbook used to be in the Maritime Museum archive so I expect it is now at the Time and Tide.”

Alfred Crisp died in 1924 and “according to a cousin he was also awarded the Serbian Gold Medal in the 1914-18 war which was presented by the King of Serbia. Apparently he was the skipper of a convoy.”

The citation says Skipper Harris RNR “showed most seaman-like qualities on the occasion of the attack by an Austrian cruiser on a group of drifters in the Adriatic on 9th July 1916. He went to the assistance of the damaged drifters, took them in tow, and brought them safely into harbour.”