Gorleston Pier and The Cozies
Just prior to the end of the second world war, when I was lucky enough to gain access to the Cosies, which were situated on the southern side of the Gorleston Pier, it was without doubt one of my favourite fishing venues. Late summer with the sun scintillating on the water, and at the same time warming the old timbers, plus the smell of the salt sea, which all who have had the privilege to fish from them, will tell you, was an unforgettable experience. This plus the satisfaction of a straw bag filled with fat dabs and silver whiting. I have often wondered just how many souls before me had the same memories of the old Cosies, which could possibly have dated back hundreds of years.
One young lad loved fishing in the Cosies so much, that he would make his way from the village of Belton whenever he had the opportunity. This would have been around 1920í. He attended Belton School, where his father was the master. This young angler named Lewis Ernest Watts Mills would have missed his fishing trips when he moved on to Sir John Leeman School in Beccles. Finally finishing his schooling at Norwich High School at the age of sixteen, to become eventually Sir John Mills the stage and film actor. I have seen a photo of another prominent personality fishing on the old pier. Mr. Neville chamberlain, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the outbreak of the Second World War. The piece of paper he was waving when he stepped off the plane from Europe signed by Adolph Hitler, would have been of more practical use, if only to wrap his lugworm bait!
I have attached what could have been about the last photo taken of the lighthouse on the end of the pier, given to me by the site agent. The small outhouse, to the left of the Pepper Pot, as it was affectionately known, housed the apparatus for the foghorn. A metal disc, not unlike a record player, with three metal studs, which when in operation revolved to a contact point, causing the foghorn to send out three blasts every minute. You can observe the horn on the left side of the roof. I remember they moved the old lighthouse to the Port and Haven commissioners yard at the other end of the Pier.
Philip Burgess and I spent many an hour having a warm and a mug of tea, with Alf Leggett, the lighthouse keeper, when he was on duty in the lamphouse. Sadly the Cosies, plus Alf and the old lighthouse are gone forever, but will stay in my memory for as long as I live.
Mangrove, or Mud Crabs
Just 50 yards from my door, I have access to a creek. This creek contains a delicacy. The Aussie Mud Crab! There are certain rules and regulations, which must be observed, when one sets out to trap these tasty crustaceans
i/e. The size of the crab measured by the width of the carapace, or shell left to right 150mm. A bag limit of 10 crabs per person. (In the U.K. males and females can be taken, known as cocks and hens. whilst here in Queensland the buck or male alone can be taken, and the Jennie, or female must be returned to the water, a sensible move, as it insures the crab population will maintain its present quantity and quality. (In the shops they can bring over $20 per Kilo.) I have been informed by the fisheries inspectors that the mud crab is at it best quality for eating when there is an (R) in the month, that is from September through to April. I had found the best time to put in my pots was after dark and to check them just before dawn. Whilst carrying out this procedure one night last crab season, I had risen before daylight and on approaching the creek something big jumped up in front of me and with a large splash, it hopped into the water, hopped being the operative word, as it turned out to be a Kangaroo! It quickly swam the creek and disappeared in the bush or forest on the other side. I know there are some deadly snakes in the area and I am not all that happy about wandering about in the dark. Anyway I hauled in my pots and the last one had three large crabs in it I placed the pot on the bank above me and somehow the door of the pot had opened and the largest crab, which was a monster got out! I made a grab for its back legs, and it spun round and just missed my thumb .I have great respect for these guys, as they are capable of amputating ones fingers. So when this happened I stepped back quickly, my heel caught on the concrete storm drain and, you guessed it, I fell backwards into the creek! That woke me up! Although crocs donít come this far south I couldnít get out of there quick enough! By now I was determined I would not lose that bloody crab and I crawled up the bank and dropped it in the bucket .It was daybreak when I returned home.
Carol had just made a pot of tea, and laughed until she went into convulsions when she gazed at her 70-year-old geriatric teenaged Victor Meldrew type hero, dripping water and covered in mud! The outcome was this huge crab, the cause of my sorry state, turned out to be a Jennie and so I returned her to the creek.
Arthur .E. Bensley