30 May 2024

Stories of our social history need to be told

I didn’t mention this last week but today, Thursday, January 26, I’ll be visiting Withernsea Methodist Church as my folky alter-ego to sing a few songs and play a tune or two.

If you’re reading this before 1pm, there’s still time to tip up there if you so wish, but if not, then you have probably dodged a major bullet if mournful maritime songs are not your thing.

I put myself forward for an appearance at the regular monthly Food, Friendship and Fun sessions for a variety of reasons – firstly, to give myself a good kick up the backside and get my musical mojo going again; secondly, to meet a few more members of the local community; and thirdly, to give our correspondent Tim Nuttall the chance of writing a story about it, as I know he loves the extra work.

So, watch this space for the report next week, and if you did miss this one, there’ll be more free entertainment on offer at the church in future months.

I’ll be doing a bit of a free preview of some of the songs I’ll be singing the same evening (a busy day, then) across the river in Barton for the Twelve Silk Handkerchiefs production, which tells the story of the 1968 Triple Trawler Tragedy and the Headscarf Revolutionaries – a term coined by Brian Lavery, who wrote the book of the same name.

It’s 55 years since those three ships went down within weeks of one another about this time of year, and I feel enormously privileged to have played a small part in spreading the story.

In 2019 we took the show on tour to a few port towns and cities including Grimsby, Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Greenwich and Newcastle, with thanks to funding from the Arts Council.

The fact that some 6,000 men left Hull never to return across a century or so of deep-water trawling should be far better known about nationally than it is. John Prescott said the story of the Headscarf Revolutionaries could be “the next Made in Dagenham” and, while the latter is known up and down the land, the story of Lil Bilocca and co generally isn’t.

Few of the audience members we spoke to in the various places we visited had heard about the Hessle housewives’ blistering campaign for better safety on the ships.

It’s vital that these and other similar stories of our social history continue to be told to new generations.