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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lavery

Community's tribute to St Romanus – first lost trawler of the Triple Disaster of 1968

TODAY Hessle Road came together to pay tribute to its own – and I was happy to be among them.

The ships may have all but gone, but the community is still very much alive.

Fifty years ago today, the Hull trawler St Romanus perished with all hands. The full causes of her disappearance remain a mystery. She was the first of three trawlers to perish in fierce Arctic weather in what became known as the Dark Winter of 1968.

The Kingston Peridot, which sailed from Hull on the same day on a later tide, was the second ship to go. On February 5, the Ross Cleveland perished too. What became known as the Triple Trawler Disaster sparked an uprising led by fighting fishwife Mrs Lillian Bilocca, who with Mrs Mary Denness, Mrs Yvonne Blenkinsop and Mrs Christine Smallbone which led to mass marches on the dock and ended with a bravura performance at the heart of Westminster which changed safety laws for the world’s most dangerous profession.

A blessing from Fr. Phil Lamb, himself a Hessle Roader, was at the centre of the floral tribute within feet of the site of the old Victoria Hall where the “headscarf revoultionaries” began their fight in front of hundreds of angry women.

The event was arranged by the Hull Bullnose Heritage Group, and Mr Ray Hawker and Mr Ray Coles, both retired trawlermen, were at the helm of the commemorations.

Mr Hawker said, ‘There was a very good turnout of family members, shipmates old friends and wonderful people who are keeping the memory of our lost fishermen alive, thanks to all who came. Special thanks to Father Phil Lamb who conducted the service and gave blessings. And we would also like to thank Ms. Elizabeth Stok, sister of John Walker Roberts. (lost on the St. Romanus) for laying the floral tribute.’

There will be further tributes at the same venue for the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland later in January and in early February. Details on the Hull Bullnose Heritage Facebook page.

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