For some time slips by so slowly whilst for other it flashes by us like the blinking of an eye. The days turn into weeks, then months and before you know it years. This was so for John James Bridgett as he sat looking out at the sea. Eighty six years were behind him now as he looked back on the life he once knew so well. All he had now was memories. Gone were most of the friends that he’d grown up with and there were only two people left from his school class still alive. He was meeting with them as he had done for the last seventy two years. It was now 2006. He was regarded as a senior citizen but in his mind he was still young even though his body was telling him otherwise.
Born just after the First World War; Jimmy Bridgett as he was known to his friends was lucky to be here. They told his mother Martha that he was jaundiced and would be lucky to survive. One of three sons John James Bridgett clung onto to life.
For nearly two weeks they kept him in Preston Hospital in North Shields until he began to recover with each day. When he came home Agnes nursed her newborn day and night William Bridgett his father was a fisherman who fished for the silver darling’s as they were called on board “The Catch a sixty feet Seine net boat.
He would sit and listen as his father would tell him stories about the sea and how his grandfather was a skipper on board a ship called the “Discovery’ a whaling vessel used in the ill fated mission by Robert Falcon Scott and his men on their journey to try and reach the South Pole in 1912. During the late 18th centuries and through the nineteenth century whales were hunted to near extinction. Whale and seal hunting was regarded as a valuable commodity. Thousands of men boarded hundreds of ships on both sides of the Atlantic came in search of whales and seals. The fur seals were slaughtered in their thousands so that women could walk around in a fur seal coats. The meat was eaten and used for the dogs that pulled the sledges laden with furs across the ice bound wilderness. The right and sperm whales were highly prized for their oil content from the blubber. The modern day ships had a harpoon gun on the bow and when the whales were located they could pursue the whales and kill them
Then like a trawl net they were winched on board then cut up into chunks and fed into holes in the deck that led to huge vats where the oil from the whales could be extracted.
A waiting vessel would then take all the oil by means of a pump and it was filled and then would make its way back to England or America. Full scale whaling ceased in 1986 after the IWC (International Whaling Commission) banned the hunting and killing of whales. However, the Japanese and Norwegians still hunt and kill whales