In danger's hour...
A personal view of Lost Trawlermen’s Day, 2020 by Brian W. Lavery - author of The Headscarf Revolutionaries and The Luckiest Thirteen.
Today, I witnessed two kinds of communion - on the street and in the church, as Hessle Road folk gathered to remember their own.
At 11am hundreds were outside the Hull Fishermen’s Heritage Centre on the Boulevard – at the memorial to the Kingston Peridot, the Lorella and the Roderigo.
An hour later they congregated at St John the Baptist’s Church on St George’s Road (the fishermen’s church)
Work being done at St Andrew’s Dock forced the memorial to be held indoors in this its thirty-first year.
It has been sixty-five years since the loss of the Hull trawlers Lorella and Roderigo – and on this day in 1968 the Kingston Peridot the second ship to perish in the Triple Trawler Disaster set sail never to return. That disaster also claimed the St Romanus and Ross Cleveland and sparked the fishwives’ uprising led by Mrs Lillian Bilocca.
As always on Lost Trawlermen’s Day, the people of the Hessle Road fishing community join to remember all the 6,000-plus souls who have left this great maritime city never to return.
Our Lord Mayor Councillor Steve Wilson with his consort Mr Karl Hudder led both tributes, joined by other civic dignitaries.
Bishop Alison White led the service accompanied by the Rev. Tony Cotson, of St John’s.
I am greatly moved when I witness this day be it the commemoration on the Road or the memorial in the church - not only by the deference and respect shown - but also by the reminder of just how brave these men are.
“You must come to us”
In 1955, in atrocious weather in Iceland’s North Cape, the Roderigo and Lorella were within in an ace of safe haven, when they went to assist the stricken Hull vessel Kingston Garnet which had snagged her propeller and was at the mercy of the storm.
The men of Lorella and Roderigo decided to help even though they must have known the great risk.
In cruel irony, the two ships were near to the last-known position of the Kingston Garnet, when unbeknown to the would-be rescuers the Garnet had saved herself and freed her propellers.
The tempest grew and heart-breaking radio messages were heard by the listening stations. The last from Roderigo was, “You must come to us.”
The radio silence that followed let the world know the ships’ fate.
And this morning in a church off Hessle Road I thought about how these men went to their comrades’ aid and laid down their lives with no second thought. Selflessness like this perhaps explains why Christ chose fishermen as his apostles.
In 1955, forty more men, forty more fathers, brothers, sons and husbands were claimed by the sea as men of Hull have been down the ages.
I only write of these things.
Those surrounding me in St John’s Church and the throng at the Heritage Centre lived it – and live it still. No one can ever doubt the courage of the men who harvest the sea.
I am not a religious man but watching and listening to Hessle Roaders singing “Eternal Father Strong to save…” (the fishermen’s hymn) made me think that maybe I could be.
I noted many in the congregation needed to no hymnal - the words came automatically.
The great fleets may be gone but the community is not.
They come from all points of the compass to remember.
I may tell their stories, but the Hessle Roaders keep them and their community heritage alive - be it in the aisles of St John’s or the corners of the Boulevard.