Film ID: YFA 3628 Video of YFA_3628 Pot Luck POT LUCK 1962 Visitor TabsDescription This documentary film was made by Bill Freeman in 1962. It focuses on the fishing industry in Bridlington and features the crew of the Wayside Flower as they bring in the catch of the day including lobsters and crabs. The film opens with a sunrise over the water; a man approaches the docks and climbs aboard a fishing boat. More men arrive to board the Wayside Flower and begin to load lobster nets onto the boat. As the boat begins its journey, the docks appear to move further into the distance. Other boats are seen at sea as the boat rocks backwards and forwards on the waters. The captain of the boat is inside the steering vestal. The fishermen pull up lobster nets from the sea and unload their catch. They begin to prepare the lobsters by tying string around the claws. Once the catch has been unloaded, the fishermen throw the cages back into the sea. When the fishermen arrive back at the docks, they secure the boat with a series of ropes. The fishermen move barrels containing the day’s catch onto a wooden platform, which is pulled up by a crane and loaded onto the docks. There are crabs stored inside large wooden containers with rope handles marked ‘Grimsby Fish’. When the containers are placed on the dock, fishermen unload them and start to prepare the fish that are inside. Two fishermen are working at a table, gutting into the fish and putting them into a basket. Other containers marked ‘W. SIDE’ are loaded onto the crane and placed on the docks. Once the fishermen have unloaded their catch, they walk away from the docks towards Bridlington. Context This film was made by local teacher and filmmaker Bill Freeman. Bill made many films from the 1940s through to the 1980s, which have been donated to the YFA. Many of these feature the Bridlington area. This film captures a typical fishing trip off the East Coast of Yorkshire at one of its high points in the early 1960s, just before it went into decline. Interestingly, the film is made in the same year, 1962, that The Fishermen, Jeremy Tunstall’s pioneering sociological study of fishermen, was published. Leaving aside smaller fishing villages, Bridlington was one of four main fishing ports on the Yorkshire coast; the others being Whitby, Scarborough and Hull. Historically Bridlington had been quite a major trade port, exporting grain, cloth and malt and importing coal, timber and salt. However, despite the rebuilding of the North and South Piers in the harbour in the 1840s, the coming of the railway line from Hull in 1846, and to York and Scarborough the following year, trade declined. In fact the railway took over much coastal trade, and coble (small boats) owners turned to trawling, which took off in the mid-nineteenth century. By the turn of the century there were 84 fishing boats belonging to Bridlington. At this time Bridlington was also a base for the Scottish herring industry, and women from Aberdeen came down to gut the fish. Fishing has been going on in the North Sea for over a thousand years, but it only really took off with the development of the sailing trawler in the 1840s. These were then mainly replaced by the steam trawler in the 1880s: there is conflicting reports as to whether the first was the ‘Pioneer’, built in Scarborough in 1881, or the ‘Zodiac’, and launched from Grimsby in 1882. These were side-winders, putting the beam trawl over the side – like the one in the film, which would have been shortly replaced by the stern trawlers, that arrived in the sixties. The catch shown in the film is possibly herring, which drift southward from early summer to spawning areas just off the coast of Yorkshire. Like mackerel, herring are found in shallow (pelagic) waters – as opposed to deep sea (demersal) fisheries having roundfish (cod, haddock, and whiting) or flatfish species (plaice and sole) – and so there is less need to go out to sea for up to three weeks at a time. Herring had been a major part of the fishing industry in the North Sea, but went into decline after World War Two with the failure of the seasonal herring shoals. From the end of the World War Two until the early 1960s the annual catch was high, averaging around 650,000 tonnes of herring, but the mortality of herring in the central and northern North Sea began to increase rapidly in the late 1960s. The small trawlers working inshore became replaced by large offshore trawlers. (Similar trawlers to the ones seen in the film were painted, in Bridlington Harbour, just two years later in 1964 by local artist Walter Goodin). This decline affected the whole of the British fishing industry. By the 1930s, British fishermen brought home 300,000 tonnes of cod annually. Fifty years ago Britain's fishing industry employed around 50,000 fishermen, whilst today there are only around 17,000. This has had a huge knock-on affect for all those who work in the fishing industry: in processing, packaging, marketing and transportation. This is especially so in respect to cod, which has been overfished for some time. The depletion of fish stocks led to the quota system of the Common Fisheries Policy, agreed in Brussels in 1983: a policy still hotly disputed today. This also aimed to put an end to the famous ‘cod wars’ which raged on and off from 1958 through to the 1980s. Yet despite quotas for fishing cod, recent estimates state that some 40% of catches are thrown back, and up to 84% of cod caught internationally are juveniles, greatly hindering the recovery of stocks. As can be from the film, crab fishing was another mainstay, although this was often done from smaller boats, called cobs. The crabs would crawl into the pots and get trapped, and when ashore they would be transferred into baskets to be weighed and sold. The season for crabs is between March and August, although if the weather is mild it can go on to Christmas. The fisherman’s smock that all the fishermen wear in the film, goes back a long time, as do the fishermen’s caps, serge trousers and guernsey pullovers; the latter having a different pattern for each fishing village. The romantic image of the fisherman though, which has been an attraction for tourists for many years, belies the hazards of the job. Being sheltered by Flamborough Head, Bridlington was known to sailors as the ‘Bay of Safety’; yet even here at least 80 ships were lost during the nineteenth century, including 30 in a famous storm on February 2nd 1871. Still today an average of 28 British boats are lost each year, and 100 men are killed or seriously injured. At one time deep sea fishing was ten times more dangerous than coal mining. In earlier times there was the danger of icing, causing boats to capsize. Other common hazards were infections, resulting from knife cuts, frayed hawsers and even fish bones, which, in the absence of qualified medical help, could lead to the loss of fingers or worse – health and safety was something for the future. In fact it was only after the loss of the Hull trawler St. Romanus on the 11th of January 1968 with the loss of 20 crew, not having radio contact to call for help, were radio operators introduced. The loss of this trawler, along with two others soon after with a total loss of 58 men, prompted women from Hessle Road, the area of Hull where trawler families mainly lived, to organise to change things. They marched every day to St Andrew’s Dock until their demands for six new safety measures were met by the owners. Many ex-fishermen now work taking tourists out on coastal trips. Tourism developed out of the eighteenth century bathing fashion on Bridlington Quay, and took off with the arrival of the railway. Today fishermen are less in evidence, making this film from the heyday of fishing of special value. References David and Susan Neave, Bridlington: An Introduction to its History and Buildings, Smith Settle, Ottley, 2000. John Tindale, Fishing out of Whitby, Dalesman Books, Lancaster, 1987. The story of 1968 tragedies can be found at: The darkest days - the triple tragedy of 1968 Jeremy Tunstall, The Fishermen, Macgibbon & Kee, London, 1962. Robb Robinson, The Rise and Fall of the British Trawl Fishery, University of Exeter Press, 1996. Steven Piper, The North Ships: the Life of a Trawlerman, David and Charles, London, 1974. Further Information Peter Frank, Yorkshire Fisherfolk, Phillimore and Co., 2002 Jeremy Tunstall, Fish: An Antiquated Industry, Fabian Pamphlet, 1968.