A true-life drama of an intense battle for survival on the high seas. The Luckiest Thirteen is the story of an incredible two-day battle to save the super trawler St Finbarr, and of those who tried to rescue her heroic crew in surging, frozen seas. It was also a backdrop for the powerful stories of families ashore, dumbstruck by fear and grief, as well as a love story of a teenage deckhand and his girl that ended with a heart-rending twist. From her hi-tech hold to her modern wheelhouse she was every inch the super ship the great hope for the future built to save the fleet at a record-breaking price but a heart-breaking cost. On the thirteenth trip after her maiden voyage, the St Finbarr met with catastrophe off the Newfoundland coast. On Christmas Day 1966, twenty-five families in the northern English fishing port of Hull were thrown into a dreadful suspense not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive after the disaster that befell The Perfect Trawler. Complete with 16 pages of dramatic and poignant photographs from the period.



In the "Dark Winter" of 1968, fifty-eight Hull trawlermen died when three ships sank in as many weeks. The Triple Trawler Disaster sparked a fishwives' uprising that took on the Establishment and won. No more would they stand by and watch the industry that gave them their living kill their men.

Sole survivor Harry Eddom,  watched two shipmates die in a life raft, was washed ashore  and spent two days fighting for his life in Arctic wastes of northern Iceland.

It was the story that took Vietnam off the world's front pages

In spite of death threats, violence, blacklisting and pillorying in the media, the Hessle Road fishwives, led by Mrs Lillian Bilocca, a.k.a. "Big Lil" fought for their men and changed the most dangerous industry on earth – but at a great personal cost. The Headscarf Revolutionaries tells the whole incredible story in a work of creative nonfiction which has been described as a cross between Made In Dagenham and The Perfect Storm

What they have said about The Headscarf Revolutionaries...

Click on the logo/images below to see articles or hear broadcasts...

The Headscarf Revolutionaries's story is one the world should never forget. I was proud to have played a small part in it and pleased Brian is telling the whole tragic, powerful story in full for the first time. Mark my words, this will be the next Made In Dagenham. Lily Bilocca was remarkable.

Lord John Prescott - House of Lords, London.


‘Brian’s story of how the Triple Trawler Tragedy unleashed the fury of the formidable women of the Hessle Road is inspirational.' 

Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson – Hull West and Hessle MP


'I relived the struggle all over again. It was like Brian had been with us.' – Mrs Mary Denness, one of Mrs Bilocca's 1968 'headscarf army.' 

The story of The Headscarf Revolutionaries is spreading across the globe...

Simply click on the player above the logo to hear either Brian's Radio 4 Four Thought episode, 'Courage and Effect' or the New Zealand broadcaster Graham Joyes' interview with Lillian Bilocca's daughter Mrs Virginia Bilocca-McKenzie...the story of the battling fishwives of Hessle Road and The Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968 is spreading across the world...their courage will never be forgotten.

Courage & Effect - Brian Lavery, intro by David Baddiel
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Coast Radio Interview - Graham Joyes & Virginia Bilocca McKenzie
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