Steady below Fireman on a trawler by Doug Andrews

My father’s friend was a skipper on a steam trawler. Between the ages of 12 and 15 years old went as a passenger on a ship in the holidays. I helped on deck and with the cooking. At 15 years of age in 1947 I left school and went to work on the trawler, Faithlie (now decommisioned). Trawlers drag the sea bed.  We travelled to inshore waters, middle water (Shetland, Faroe) and distant water (Iceland).

Faithlie trawler image
Faithlie trawler image from Shared photos on site. See site for more copyright information on this photo.

I spent my working day shovelling coal as the only fireman on the ship. The ship would have 300 tons of coal loaded onto the boat. This would last about 12 days depending on the distance travelled. There would always be fuel left at the end of a voyage but most of it would be shovelled into the ship’s by me.

Types of fish caught
We caught haddock, cod, monk fish  (tail = mock scampi) and rounders. In Flat fish we caught plaice, halibut, sole (lemon, dover, meghims) and turbot.

Best Fishing Story
While fishing off Aberdeen we realised the net had something in it. We pulled up the net and smell was terrible. When we got to the cod end of the net inside it we found the carcass of an elephant! We had no idea why there could be an elephant at the bottom of the north sea but we found out the following week. Another trawler from Hull pulled up the same carcass and this time reported it. It turned out the elephant had been part of a herd on a russian trawler. When it died they had put it over the side where we had found it.
The story finished on the front page of the Aberdeen Express with the Heading “Aberdeen trawler catches a Jumbo haddock”.

Working week
Sailed on Monday and returned to land catch on Wednesday. Sailed same day and landed catch on Friday. Weekend off.
There were licences for Atlantic Waters which allowed a boat 12 trips a year for example. A trip = sailing 15-20 days and then landing the fish.

Other links
Link to a Fleetwood Fireman’s song
More information on the Scottish Fisheries
Scottish Screen Archive Films– many films on fishing industry in Aberdeen


TrawlerVisual Dictionary – Copyright © 2005-2011 – All rights reserved.