Harry belongs to: The Coble and Keelboat Society
Harry grew up on the Lawe Top in South Shields. He served an apprenticeship on the tugboats and worked on the Titan Crane. Harry is a member of the Coble and Keelboat Society.
Harry was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 31 January 2006. The interview took place at South Shields Museum and lasted 1 hour, 20 minutes and 15 seconds.
The role of the tug boats
"The tugs boats, basically tow the ships in and out of harbours, dock, dock, you know, dock the ships, take them to the buoys, any movement in the river"
The tugs boats, basically tow the ships in and out of harbours, dock, dock, you know, dock the ships, take them to the buoys, any movement in the river, where a ship didn’t have any engines, tugs were doing that- towed the ships from sea. But the foy boat made them fast.
At one time when the foy boats first started they used to sail out, they didn’t have an association, it was like me and you working on the boat and if we wanted to make money you sailed out the harbour and if there was a sailing ship coming towards you, you’d go up and shout to the skipper, “foy boat in need?” Foy boats were the little black boats, about 16 footers, they would hook on and the ship would tow them into the river and whichever jetty they’d go to, or buoy, the foy boat would make them fast, you know.
And there was all kinds of rows and fights and everything, you know, between them, the same, the tugs used to call it seeking, even the tug companies, the tugs would go away and they would, the first, the first tug to the ship would get the job and they would barter, cheaper this and that. And there was one, I can remember, one skipper was telling me Softly, John Softly, he was in a paddle tug and they were running to this, you know, running alongside each other and they were chucking lumps of coal at each other, you know, and he says, but they had done.
They had formed an association where you went on a rota, and if you go to the small beach at South Shields, down there, it’s the same huts there where you would go down and sign on and they would have a rota and the number of your boat. And when the ship’s in, first ship coming wanted four foy boats, they would take you off. Now if you wanted, if you wanted to make more money, as soon as you finished one ship, if you wanted you’d put your name on again. Well, most of them, once they got enough money for whatever they wanted then, enough money for a drink, they wouldn’t go back on the rota, you know.
But the tug boats, they were, God, they were gone away for days, seeking, what you call seeking, in fact I’ve got a, I’ve got a book, I don’t know if it’s, it’s 1924, and it tells you how much it cost. They would tow a ship from sea, up to Newcastle Quay and the crew would get a shilling each. You know, like this, and different ropes you get paid for but yes it was….But that’s just basically the difference between them; foy boats were totally different. A lot of foyboatmen were ex-tugboat men.
Harry has 24 memories in the memorynet:
Harry's memories with a Change theme:
Harry's other memories:
- Joining the tug boats
- The role of the tug boats
- Cabin boy's routine
- The galley
- The foy boats and skulling
- Value of the tug boat apprenticeship
- Routines on the tug boats
- Working on the Titan Crane
- Coble smells – black varnish
- Foy boatmen
- Sculling a foy boat
- The Tynesider
- The Joffre
- The crew of the Tynesider
- The Titan crane
- The Titan crane at work
- Loading coal
- The crew of the Titan crane
- The Titan Crane
- The Mary Young
- The Royal Diadem II