for food. Even though there is world wide condemnation; they say that it is barbaric and morally wrong to kill these beautiful creatures. The money his great grandfather made from whaling bought the fishing boat called The Catch.’
She was a beautiful green and white painted vessel and his father got the bug from a very early age when his father took him out in her for the first time as a five year old. William Bridgett knew then and there that he was destined to become a fisherman. Every weekend he would be seen onboard the boat as his father and crew sailed out in search of herring; a fish rich in vital oils and a high omega vitamin content. The fine netting was strung out for about a mile then left for up to four hours at a time before being hauled in again. The deck would be awash with herring as they were swept towards a chute and then fed into a tank in the hold tons of fish would be kept in the hold until they reached North Shields where they were unloaded and then sent to the herring girls who would be waiting to gut them and either make them into kippers for the smoke house or they were placed into barrels to be shipped out to France, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The demand for herring was so great because they were prolific breeders. The migrated every year and this is when the boats would be waiting to catch them. Hundreds of tons each day were caught and it didn’t seem to make a dent in the fish stocks. By 1920 North Shields was regarded as the biggest herring port in the world. You just couldn’t see from one end of the port to the other with boats of different descriptions that came to unload and sell their catches. Most of the boats ran by the use of coal to produce steam. The boats had a small sail at the back and the nets were man hauled aboard which was a laborious task. He had met and married Martha Steadman a young herring girl. William was twenty one and she was twenty when they met at a Christmas dance held a St Josephs Church Hall.
He was a catholic and she a protestant which was scorned upon by both families. She wasn’t allowed in William’s house and had to meet him outside. Regardless of both parents their love blossomed and in 1918 just after the First World War they were married; much to the behest of William’s parents because William married her in a protestant church. For almost two years Martha was treated by William’s parents like an outcast. It was only when William’s brothers James, Robert, and George, had words with both of their parents when Martha was with child and was left outside of their home in the bitter winter cold of 1920. Winnie Bridgett relented and asked Martha to come inside.
Surprisingly enough Winnie and Martha got on very well after that and when John James was born she couldn’t do enough for them. She knitted and made blankets for
Everyone called him Jimmy in the house and by the time he was five he doted on his grand mother. Martha’s parents John and Alice were kind to him also but he always had a soft spot for his nana Winnie.
He would make her things at school and bring them for her,’ John was very clever with his hands and was good at making things; especially wood. He often used to help his Granda Bridgett make Crees for his pigeons that he kept. He was even cleverer with his fists after being bullied at school both of his uncles taught him the art of boxing; He knocked out a Steven Rutledge three classes above him one afternoon after this boy told him that his mother was a slut because she had married a catholic.
Jimmy punched him with a left Jab and a right cross bounced off his chin and the boy fell in a heap on the ground and didn’t move for some time after. Jimmy was big for his age; he was nearly as tall as Rutledge but heavier by about a stone. He was never picked on again after that. Academically Jimmy excelled at everything he sailed through his eleven plus examinations and was in the higher stream in Tynemouth