Good causes benefit from former Fleetwood skipper tales of trawler life

Tony's stories of deep sea fishing have already raised hundreds for charity
Tony's stories of deep sea fishing have already raised hundreds for charity
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A former Fleetwood trawler skipper has so far raised £600 for good causes from sales of his book which tells the story of his long working life at sea.

And Tony Barkwork is hoping his book, entitled Voyage of a Lifetime, can still earn more funds for three charities in Fleetwood.

When we came home there was a great sense of freedom. Everybody else was at work except us

The funds will support the Jacinta Charitable Trust, Friends of Fleetwood Museum and Fleetwood Cancer Research Committee, which raises money for research at The Christie Hospital, Manchester.

Tony was just 15 years old in 1947 when he signed on to learn the trawling trade in the days of coal-fired steam trawlers.

“The living conditions on those old ships were appalling,” Tony recalls. “Why did we put up with these conditions? We accepted them as part of our lives. Perhaps there was a certain pride in that you were tough enough to do it.”

Tony’s book, subtitled From Trawler Boy to Deep Sea Captain, shows that conditions on some of the ships sailing from Fleetwood in the Sixties were not much better.

He came to Fleetwood from Hull as a wartime refugee from the bombing there and was one of five brothers. Money was in short supply and the family lived in houses long-since demolished in the old part of Fleetwood where neighbours had to share outside toilets.

Speaking of his early years at sea, Tony recalls: “When we came home there was a great sense of freedom. Everybody else was at work except us. It was only 36 hours in after two weeks at sea but it was great to get cleaned up and dressed up. We had only two or three pounds in our pockets but that was a week’s pay for many ashore and we had only a short time to spend it.”

Tony and his wife Judy married 60 years ago and he decided to study to pass the examinations for his mate’s and then skipper’s certificates. He commanded ships owned by Wyre Trawlers and later joined the family-owned Marr organisation.

The book has been shadow-written by Fleetwood journalist and historian David Pearce, who Tony met through his involvement with heritage trawler Jacinta, which Tony skippered for a time.

Copies can be supplied by post at £5, plus £2 postage and packing for a UK address.

Contact Lighthouse Stationery, 66 North Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY 7 6 AR. Call (01253) 773099, or email lighthouse-stat@byconnect.com