The Street Urchin

The Street Urchin is set in North shields and tells of young Billy Phelps a promising young footballer- his father is a trawlerman and has no time for his children or his wife when he meets a Norwegian girl and begins an affair.
The impact of the the marriage break up and triumph over adversity are told in this heartwarming story.


20. 20

Albert checked his grand father’s diary for today’s date for that year and the weather report. Although the sea was relatively calm, the catch was poor. This gave Albert a little hope as when there was a storm brewing the sea bottom was churned up and the shoals of fish fed on the plankton and other small fish. He opened the window and shouted to his crew to make ready.

They were four hours out and the process of trawling would begin soon.

The lads grabbed a cup of tea and a sandwich that Ralphie Mason had made them before getting their oilskins on and heading out for what could be a rough trip.

The wind was picking up as they lowered the first net. Tommy Cottingham was operating the winch. After three hour of trawling the skipper instructed the men to bring in the net.” Alvin! All ahead slow.

“Aye, aye, skipper.

Separate the warps shouted Brian Boyer, “Turn on the winch.”

Steady as she goes skipper said Chris Lorrimer as the otter boards were secured to the gallows and the net was lifted slowly on board.

It wasn’t good with a lot of Pollack which was worthless on the market.

The sorters dumped the Pollack and kept the haddock and few small codling that they had caught.

“Shoot the net again shouted the skipper so the men did as they were asked knowing that if they didn’t catch good quality cod then they would be going home with little money as they only got paid on the catch.

It started raining and the waves were about seven feet high; the Misty Dawn bobbed up and down as the waves crashed against her bow. The men were forced to hold onto the rails in case they were swept overboard.

The skipper asked Alvin to increase the speed but Alvin shouted back that he was on full power and that if they continued at this rate the engine would blow.

Tony Asiamah and his brother were greasing the winch when a large wave swept them both across the deck, Tommy Cottingham and Mick raced across the deck trying to avoid falling and injuring themselves and grabbed hold of the brothers until they were able to stand up and hold on again.

The skipper wound down the window in the wheelhouse and shouted “are you all alright? “ Aye Skipper they answered as another wave swamped the decks.

The weather persisted for another two hours then as quickly as the storm began the wind dropped and the rain stopped.

“Right Alvin; slow ahead.”

The lads went about the drill to bring in the net again and this time when the cod line was untied a massive rush of cod fell on the deck. They even caught two thirty five pound halibut which would fetch a good price at the North Shields market.

 The fish were sorted and gutted then quickly boxed and iced as the trawl net was shot  for a third time.


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