Driftermen

For generations the call of the sea has attracted my family, some were beachmen, others sailors but mostly they followed the herring.

My grandfather went to sea when he was twelve and when sixteen had a experience which changed his hair to a permenant silvery white, in three days. This is taken from an article in the Great Yarmouth Mercury when he died  in 1937.

‘When a lad of sixteen Mr Taylor was serving as a cook on board the sailing lugger Silver Dart belonging to Mr William Thrower of Gorleston. One stormy night a large ship crossed the luggers bows leaving the Silver Dart crippled well out to sea. The crew jumped aboard the other vessel but it was found that Taylor had been left behind as the vessels parted. The Gorleston crew of whom only two E. Mayes and William Cleaverland of 33, High St survive were taken to a Norwegion port.

Taylor was mourned as lost, but some time afterwards came the news that he was alive and had been taken into Rotterdam by the crew of another fishing boat. This vessel came across the Silver Dart adrift at sea with Taylor on board. He was below at the time of the collision and remained afloat three days before he was saved.'

My father was was one of thirteen children, this was a typical fishing family, when the man came home from following the herring there was another mouth to feed when he went away again. Most boys followed in their fathers footsteps by going to sea in what ever capacity they could. The driftermen had to be hardy and very fit as their place of work demanded it of them. Unfortunaltly my father is the last son left but the fishing community has to be remembered as it was a large part of our heritage.

The first people to use the then sandbank of Great Yarmouth were fishermen drying and mending their nets, this was most likely at Fullers Hill. The art of drift netting was not recorded till the sixteenth century. This was mainly because of the change in the habit of the herring leaving the Baltics for our seas.

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