The Netmaker

"The Netmaker" the story follows four families who are all linked in some way to the Wilkinsons Lemonade Factory that was bombed during WW2. This is a tribute to the 107 people who lost their lives on 3rd May 1941


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The Northern Gale’s engines started up along with the Norma Jane, and the Sand Piper.

They edged out of the gut then turned left it was getting dark at around five thirty it would be a few months yet before the lighter nights would be upon them. The boats kept to the right of the shipping lane as they headed past the piers and out to sea. They were off to Shetland Islands to fish for herring it was there where the herring made their summer migration moving steadily along the east coast of Scotland and reaching Northumberland by either July or August time by the end of the fishing season they could still be caught in Yarmouth and Lowestoft. In the early days up to 300 fishing vessels could be seen at one time. By the outbreak of WW1 that number had been cut by half. Now there were less than thirty boats catching the silver darlings. The net stretched out for over a mile and was left for over four hours before being hauled aboard emptied and then re-shot again. This was done over a four day period and the decks were awash with fish. Loaded into boxes piled high on deck they were salted, iced, and kept until they got back to port where they were unloaded and sold within two hours.

A lot of the fish went to Scandinavia and Germany but now the war was in progress no herring was sent and in fact not a lot of fishing was being done; especially deep water fishing. The risks were too high, many that had got themselves picked off by German U boats.’ The rewards were great if you were lucky enough to land your catches.


Geordie Johnson told Alan Stoker nick named (Dracula) who waited on deck for the signal to haul the nets in. They were still earning a decent wage but had to be forever vigilant in case German U boats were patrolling the area. A lot of boats had been either converted to carry guns or they made sure every man was armed in case of attack. There was a bit of a swell on and the smell of fish oil from the herring shoals reached Geordie’s nostrils.

“Won’t be lang noo Dracula.’

“Ten minutes at the most I reckon replied the skinny looking man who had no front teeth to speak of just two fangs; plus his combed back hair style was like that of Bella Lugosi. His name being Stoker too confirmed his nick name more so. It was Bram Stoker who wrote the book. Dracula lit up a rolled cigarette as the skipper shouted for them to haul the nets in.

Immediately the two men set about hauling in the net and the herring fell onto the deck within an hour the deck was full and the process of boxing and icing began in earnest.


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