Fish­er­men friends

Fish­er­men re­call their ex­pe­ri­ences

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - FRONT PAGE -

Among those fea­tured in the Ebb and Flow book is 73-year-old Tony Turner – a haaf-net­ter for 55 years.

He tells how the an­cient skill can be dan­ger­ous a lot of the time. Tony said: “You have to watch the wa­ter to see if it is calm or choppy, or if it is deep.

“You would never walk on the sand where there is plenty of shale, or small shells, be­cause you know that’s where it is soft and you can get into dif­fi­cul­ties. Par­tic­u­larly in An­nan where there are sticky patches; ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple in­clud­ing my­self have been caught again and again.”

Stake-net­ter John Panczak, 58, is the last of the New­bie nets­men. He said: “I more or less learned to walk and set nets on the Sol­way when I was not too young to be a nui­sance and old enough to be in­ter­ested.

“New­bie was one of the big­gest fish­eries, in terms of suc­cess rate, in Scot­land.

“They had known buy­ers and they would take all the fish we could pro­duce: Billings­gate, Grimsby, Leeds and Manch­ester oc­ca­sion­ally. Th­ese peo­ple sent up boxes for us to fill and we sent them back by the rail­way.”

He added: “There were once 16 nets just at Pow­foot but there are none now. There may not be half a dozen peo­ple in this area, maybe even in the whole of Scot­land, who would know how to set a stake net th­ese days.”

Ge­orge Chalmers, 89, of Back of the Hill, is known for his shrimp­ing, wham­mel-net­ting, stake and poke net fishing.

He said: “I fished as a boy dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days, slept on the boat, worked the tides and swam in the river in­be­tween. I was never paid; I just en­joyed it. We fished mainly for shrimps as they were a re­li­able source of in­come.”

The boats had to use Water­foot as they couldn’t get up to the Well­dale at low tides. Ge­orge added: “There was no land­ing stage at Water­foot and the men had to plough through the mud to get the shrimps on to the land.”

He re­mem­bers that dur­ing the Sec­ond World War the Sol­way was known as Hud­son Bay be­cause of the num­ber of planes that went down.

He lost his fa­ther and un­cle to the sea on The Jean on De­cem­ber 13, 1961 off Sk­in­bur­ness in an 18ft tide.

Ge­orge said: “It hit a big steel buoy in the chan­nel in dark and dirty wa­ter. My un­cle’s body was washed up 11 months later and found near the Sil­loth shore­line but my fa­ther has never been found.”

Boat fish­er­man Alex Thor­burn said: “My fam­ily had been in­volved in fishing for three generations; haaf-net­ting, poke-net­ting and stake-net­ting. My grand­fa­ther had a fish shop in the town, roughly where the Sol­way Cafe is now.

“Once in the wa­ters be­tween the Isle of Man and White­haven, in a force eight gale, I was pitched into the sea. All the crew could see of me was my red bal­a­clava bob­bing in the wa­ter some dis­tance away. I was lucky.”

Shelling or pick­ing shrimps was once a thriv­ing sea­sonal industry in An­nan for women. One lady, Pa­tri­cia Wil­lacy, said the pick­ery be­came a “so­cia­ble hub” where friend­ships and gos­sip thrived.

Weel kent Ge­orge Chalmers, 89, of Back of the Hill

Care Tony Turner, a haaf-net­ter for 55 years

Over­board Alex Thor­burn

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