John belongs to: The Coble and Keelboat Society
John grew up in Tynemouth. He spent his spare time as a child sailing. John followed his father into piloting ships on the Tyne.
John was interviewed by Kylea Little on 3 March 2006. The interview took place at Discovery Museum History Office and lasted 1 hour, 0 minute and 12 seconds.
The pilotís routine
"Well, there was various routines through the years"
Well, there was various routines through the years, which, you know, suited the way things were going at the time. And when I first started, all pilots were on an endless rota. We really just went on this rota list and we sat for, all year, except, in those, in my, when I started, we got two weeks holiday a year, but you were on for effectively 24 for the rest of the time, and sometimes you wouldnít do very much, and sometimes you were run off your feet.
Because what happened was you got a ship into the river and you kept that. Now, that ship might have gone into the dry docks, and it might be there for anything from a couple of days to a couple of months, and each time that ship moved, that was your ship. But then you could imagine that you might have had quite a few ships in the river and if the times conflicted and in fact they were working together, then you, all you could do was take the first one and the other job would go to the next man on the rota list. You came out of the rota list to do your ship, you see, and some people might never get out to sea when they were on a job for quite a while because they were working on all the ships they had in the river. And someone who hadnít, for some reason got anything in the river at the time, or someone who had just come straight in and out, you see, heíd be just working on the seaward side.
But that got to a situation where you were cutting down on men and you were getting into a situation where you couldnít work like that any longer and we eventually went on virtually what you might call watches, weíd would keep watch for a week, or whatever, whereby we split the compliment up into, say three or four groups, and sort of, the watch did a rota, you know. But it would be, you know, it wasnít for a number of hours, it was on for a number of days, you see.
It did eventually get down to a stage where you were doing sort of like a day on, day off or whatever it was. But that was really just to suit the manpower, and of course as that happened, naturally, you couldnít keep the ship, your own ships anymore. So you didnít keep going back to the same ship all the time, and thatís the way it was when I finished, anyway. But I much preferred that when I got a ship in, I much preferred to work around the port, and be back with the same people on the ship- they knew you and you knew them, and it was a better, it was a better way of working all round.
John has 11 memories in the memorynet: