John belongs to: Merchants and Traders
John was born in North Shields. His father was a fish merchant and his mother ran a second hand shop. When he left school John followed his father into working on North Shields Fish Quay. He has worked there as a fish merchant since 1957.
John was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 6 March 2005. The interview took place at Discovery Museum and lasted 49 minutes and 43 seconds.
Working on the trawlers
"When I worked for Purdy’s they had a system which is unusual now"
When I worked for Purdy’s they had a system which is unusual now, because I had, if a deck hand wouldn’t go to sea on a trawler, me being the stall boy, throw me in the deep end and tell, tell my mother, or, “he’s at sea.” Do you know, they didn’t run home and say he was going. And so I, so I went on my first trawler trip there, it was Hell on Earth. They treat you like you like you can’t believe it, how cruel they were, because I think they tried to scare you off going to sea because it was that bad that you, you done all like, sort of, you’d help shovel coal in the coal bunkers, you chopped ice, and this ice was really hard- a pickaxe would bounce off it, but you had to have the ice ready for when the trawler, the fish came on the deck.
And there were no toilets aboard these boats, you’ve got to remember that, I remember for three days I was dying to go to the toilet and in the end I asked somebody, and the deck hand next to me said, “there’s the biggest toilet in the world just there.” And he said, “just go down the back end where it’s quiet and do what you have to do,” he said, you’ve got, there’s no, you know.
And the smell aboard them boats was…you would spew your guts up just at the thought of it, because at the forecastle head where I was in, you see, the four deck hands, that’s the lowest people on the boat, they all slept in the fo’c’sle head, because they used to take all the punishment, where the little, like- we called it the bulls’ boiler- it was just a little fire with a bit of coal on but the heat added to the smell, really, really, you could puke all the time.
And the after end, there would be another four bunks in another two cabins, where the skipper, the mate, the engineer, the second engineer, the cook and maybe anybody else that they needed, you know what I mean, if they, some, there might be another hand, there might be another deck hand might be allowed down there. And the trips that I was on, about 10, no seven days, there were seven days then, just, we only used to go for seven days because we only had coal for seven days.
John has 16 memories in the memorynet:
John's memories with a Equipment theme:
John's other memories:
- Leaving school
- Working on the trawlers
- Working on the trawlers and moving to filleting
- Fish merchant's routine
- Ferry days
- Changes at the Fish Quay
- The community on the Fish Quay
- Prawn fishing
- The auction
- Filleting fish
- John's staff
- Photograph of John
- North Shields fish market
- Buskers laying out fish