Cook on a fishing boat by George Addison

George started his working life as a cook aged 14 in 1943 on a fishing boat called the White Heather. His father had a share of a 40 ft boat called the Procure. The men were called up so there were only teenagers and older men (50 +) in the fishing boats during the war. His actual first job was in a saw mill called Tocherneil. The owner was Charles Auld. He peeled pit props, taking the bark off. he had to wear gloves and was paid by the foot which in his view = a pittance. He lasted a month before going to sea. A job came up on the White Heather. He cooked soup and broth. The beef was cut up and the vegetables then boiled with it. The steam drifter had a crew of 10. If there was nothing else it was fried fish. No niceities. There were mugs of tea and a slice a bread. With white fishing you were there and back in a day. The rules said that. Could only fish 10-15 miles off the coast. Those were the rules during WW2. Had to report when you went to sea to an examination vessel which was just off the entrance to every port. Then reported back to the same vessel. After two months his father was called up for the navy and a berth came up on the Procure (his Father had a share of the boat). It was a 40 foot Seine Net Boat. On this boat he was a cook again. The boat went out of Aberdeen rather than Fraserburgh like the White Heather. As cook he made semolina, Duff, which was a dumpling mixture with flour, fat, sugar, bacon powder, beef suet and golden syrup. On Sunday supper consisted of a lump of cheese and nothing else.

By 1944 he was an engineer having learnt on the job. In late 1944 the Procure was sold. George became a fireman on a steam drifter, Deveronside. In 1945 the men started to return from the war. The fishing Industry was built up with loans. The fishing boat grants were to help the men coming back. This built up the Shipbuilding Industry. There also a trend from streamboat to diesel. The last Grant and Loan boat was in 1960s. The herring were seasonal so the boats were dual-purpose as drift net for herring and seine net for white fish. As the drifters came back after WW2 George worked as a fireman on The Mary Watt, Spectrum, and Wealth of Ocean. The cook, the fireman and the engineer were on a wage and the fisherman got paid based on the catch.

In 1947 he was called up for National Service. Went to Fort George to seven weeks where he had to adapt to Army discipline. He was sent to Easingwold to train as a lorry driver in Royal Corps of signals. There was a seven week drving course in York. Posted to Germany just after that stying in Badoeynhausen near Minder and Hanover. Took part in the Berlin Airlift. Then went to Helmsmitt.

After he came out of National Service he went his Father’s boat, the Cairngorm where he stayed until 1948. His next boat was the Seminos from 1958-1960. Had a boat built called the Valiant A466. George was the mate and his brother-in-law Alec was the skipper. He had married Alec’s sister. He was then on the Corinella 1982-1992. George’s wife was a gutting quine before they married in 1953. She travelled form Lerwick to Yarmouth with the catch. The curers paid their wage and they were paid by the barrel.

He took part in the Mobil North Sea Yacht Race in 1993. They were the oldest crew and had two ship captains. Was second in the Portknockie Bergan in the first year. Took part in the Stavanger Race which ran Thursday to Saturday. Had no damage. Left Banff on Saturday at 12 a.m. and arrived in Stavanger on Monday at 8 a.m.

Memory contributed by George Addison from Cullen

Additional information

NEFA fishing heritage website schools section North-east FolkLore Archive- children section . This is the main website for the Archive.

The following pages describe what life was like for those who lived and worked in the fishing communities around the coast of North East Scotland.

The Gutting Quines didn’t travel on the boats but by train from port to port. Their belongings were taken up in kists in the boats of the fathers, brothers and husbands. They started early in the Herring Season up in Shetland then as the fish moved further south they were at Fraserburgh and Peterhead. They then moved south to Grimsby and then Yarmouth for the last of the fishing.


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