A Place Beyond The Priory

 "A Place Beyond the Priory " This is a story about Life in North Shields during the 1900's-1920's Tom Farrow is a third generation coble fisherman, Who meets and falls in love with a young herring girl who has travelled from the isle of Barra in the outer Hebrides looking for work. Margaret Linnie, her two friends Kerstin McDonald and Beth Munro all end up on the gutting line in Tyne Brand - their unscrupulous foreman Albert Mortimer treats all the girls on the line like animals including his wife Lizzie who bares him 11 children. forced into a marriage she did not want, Lizzie is abused by Albert for his own sexual gratification. She was in love with a young Greek boy called Leonidas Kostalas whom she had known from her days at school and lost her virginity to but her father will not allow them to marry- this is a story of love and betrayal and will keep you riveted until the last page is read.


11. 11

When Chris and Steve arrived they looked like he did, half dead. They put on their oilskins and waders that allowed them to pull the boat right into the water without getting wet. Once they were ready they took hold of the rope and heaved on it. The flat bottomed boat began to move slowly down to the waters edge foot by foot. It took them a good half an hour to launch the boat. Then the Skipper rowed the boat out towards the steps and the lads came aboard with all their gear. The small engine was started and then Tom turned the tiller to the right to make the Outcast’s bow turn to the left. You always turned the tiller in opposite direction depending on which way you wanted to go. So if you wanted the boat to go to the left you turned the tiller to the right. Steve switched on the bilge pump to rid the boat of stagnant water. It worked via a float switch. If the boat was to spring a leak then the bilge pump would be switched on. A mercury switch would be triggered and the pump would be activated to get rid of the access water and stop the boat from sinking. The coble moved slowly out. The distinctive sound from the engine rang out as it made its way along the Black Midden’s past the Lord Collingwood monument then out of the bar at Tynemouth. The old ruins of the priory could be seen in the distance as they headed out to sea. It would take them an hour to reach the rich fishing grounds. The seagulls followed them out to sea as they searched for the first string of pots that had been left out for two days. Chris lit up a rolled cigarette and puffed away on it as he and Steve baited hundreds of hooks for the long line. It was all done with precision and they never stopped. Long lining was cheaper than using a net which could cost you a few thousand pounds if it were lost or damaged. Hooks were easily sharpened or replaced.

The baited hooks hung down on catgut attached to a long length of line with floats every few yards as the tide came whipping in. Fish of several species looking for food would get caught because they would grab at the baits in a food feeding frenzy. There was no time to pick at baits, if they wanted food they had to be first to get it and invariably they got caught.

It was a highly effective way to catch fish.

The Outcast reached its first string of pots after they had let out over a mile of long line. Chris grabbed the marker with a gaff and hauled it aboard. The two men then pulled on the line and brought in the string of pots. Some of the pots held up to four crabs weighing around two pounds each. The under sized one or ones with eggs were thrown back. Each pot was quickly baited again then when they were all done they put out again. Tom got himself annoyed when unscrupulous Spanish trawler men who would cut the line so the pots would drift away.

This is why he liked to come out and check his pots every day. After the first string of pots had proved fruitful; Tom graded the crabs for size and weight. Their nippers were taped and then were placed inside baskets. He had over fifty crabs at two bob per crab would bring in five pounds. The lobsters would bring double that price and more depending on the size. They restrung the crab pots then headed further afield.

“Did you find out what was showing at the pictures tonight then?’

“Aye, there’s a comedy called “The Bargain’ with Henry Edwards and Chrissie White and the main feature is called “The Four Feathers’ which is a war movie.’

“That’s what they gave soldiers for cowardice wasn’t it asked Chris?’

“Aye, it was; mind you a lot of men during the war were pretty shaken up by the constant shelling and seeing their friends shot and killed.

“We were the lucky ones weren’t we?’

“Too bloody right said Steve as they approached the second string of pots.’


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