Interview with Mr Andrew Gove Cargill: memories of fishing from childhood

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Andrew Gove Cargill (Govie) Interview 7/9/06 Transcription (Brief interjections/questions in italics: some murmurs of agreement and encouragement omitted : some unclear words italicised) Interview with Andrew Gove Cargill 7 Sept. 2006. It was agreed that the interview would be conducted in Scots, Gourdon Scots, Gourdon being Govie’s place of birth. The Interviewer has tried to portray as accurately as possible the particular dialect pronunciation for Gourdon through customised spelling. Memories of fishing from childhood through to adulthood, memories of World War II Celia: Okay, now Govie (Aye) if I can ca you that. We’ll start with your name. What is your full name? Govie: Andrew Gove Cargill Celia: And you were born? Govie; The 11th April 1921 Celia: Which makes you…? Govie: Eichty five Celia: Eichty five years auld. Now, what aboot father, mother, brothers and sisters, names for them and …? Govie: Well, my father was Willie Cargill … (Mmmhm) … my mither was Margaret Gove … Margaret Freeman (Margaret Freeman) eh and then there wis Nelly, my auldest sister, Lily, John, and Isabel and me. We were twins. Celia: Ah twins. Right. Govie: Nelly was a twin.. Celia: Nelly was yer twin… No - Nelly was another twin… Govie: Nelly was a twin but her twin deed. (Ah, right) We were the last to ……. I’m the youngest, I’m the bairn Celia: The bairn – that’s what my deddie1 used to say aboot him – he wis the bairn in his faimly but leaving that aside em, I believe that yer father had a nickname…? 1

Gourdon is the name of the village where Govie was born. “deddie” is Gourdon Scots for “grandfather” and is possibly unique - to the area around Gourdon,though including, for example the nearby fishing village Johnshaven – or even to Scotland. Interviewer and interviewee have known each other for many years : the interviewer’s father and Govie were friends


Govie: Yes, Reid Lichtie Celia: Can ye tell us aboot that? Govie: Yes, eh , my father cam fae Arbroath and fin his mither deed, there wis my father, Meg, Betts and Jim and eh Helen, there wis five o a faimly and as they did in thae days because my father was only ten, ten/ twelve, sumdae took some o them and split the faimlies up, so my father and his sister Nell, Helen cam tae Gurden2 and bade wi Auld Roy 3Mowatt, nae the Roy Mowatt you ken, his father. (Ah right so,) Auld Roy Mowatt – (so nae ma deddie’s chum, the father o mi deddie’s chum mmhm). That’s right. Govie: And he was mair or less brocht up wi them. Now, they were cousins, he was mair or less brocht up wi them. In fact May Smith and Auld Roy, May Smith was ma father’s cousin and he was brocht up wi them and he gaed tae the sea - he cam here when he was ten.eleven and they cam on the Fraeday – twelve - and they were in the mill4 - … on Monday. Celia: Goodness, and how old was he at that time, did ye say? Govie: Twelve Celia; Twelve, so he was working in the flax mill – …right away Govie; Mmm – I think it was Bervie Celia: Bervie Mill – and he kept the name Reid Lichtie because of the Arbroath connection? 5 Govie: He didna keep it – he didna tak the name - they ca’d him Reid Lictie Celia: And how did he feel aboot that? Govie: Didna bather. I mean he cam fae Arbroath and the Arbroathmen are kent as Reid Lichties Celia: The Arbroathmen are certainly kent as Reid Lichties. If we look back to your childhood, Govie, as far as ye can, as far as ye remember, wid you remember yer father gaein ti the sea, (oh yes) gaein doon to the herbour ti watch the boats? What di ye remember fae that period?


Gurden is the Gourdon pronunciation of Gourdon! Roy here is a diminutive of Munro and often is, though it can also simply be Roy in slightly later times. 4 The flax mill in Gourdon was the second main employer in the village, after the sea. The nearby village of Inverbervie had several mills – it was not a fishing village – and it is to one of the Bervie Mills that Govie refers here. 5 A Reid Lichtie is the traditional byname/nickname for an Arbroath man, after the colour of their boat lights. 3


Govie: I gaed ti the sea wi mi father but I remember a gid bit farer back than that. (okay) Eh, there wis a fleet o very near thirty boats there and thir wir,… the system was fairly up ti …bringing oot, catching flooks6 and they use ti ging ti Aberdeen and bide aboard the boats for a week and come hame. Now I dinna - I mind o Geordie Mill, my uncle gaein but I dinna mind o my father gaein but he gaed wi Roy, Auld Roy Mowatt and they hid the Rely. Now, fin, efter, in 1932, 1925 or 26 Roy Mowatt got the Vivid and therefore the faimly boat wis left but my father took it ti the sea and then in 1932 he bocht it. And then it wis his, so I mind them gettin it and for the first thing wi did fin he got it wis we flung the ballast and cleaned it a oot and that wis John and me and him flung the ballast ower the back o the pier, doon there, washed the boat oot …intae the inside. Celia; How big a boat was the Vivid?7 Govie: The Vivid was just under 40 fit ; the Rely wis 38 fit. She wis built here. She wis built wi Jeems Mowatt Celia: Really – in Gurdon! There was an active boat builder in 19 what? Govie: Well, eh, I dinna ken fin Jeems stoppit building. Ye see Jeems wis Roy Mowatt’s brother, Govie on the family boat, the “Rely” ME 44, approaching the harbour - Govie sitting to foreside of mast, crew member, possibly Willie Dorward at wheelhouse.

Auld Roy’s brother and the shipyaird wis at the fit o Mowatt’s Lane8 (Right) in afore Railway Cottage and he used to haul them across the road and doon Jeems’

Slough and pit them in.. Celia; And do you mind o seeing the boat builder’s premises? Govie: I mind o the shed being there – it was jist an auld ramshackle at that time – (at that time) .but I mind o it. Celia: But he built, which,was it the Rely? Govie: The Rely – he built twa or three – ither boats Celia: And the ane that yer father inherited, that wis the Rely? Govie: Was the Rely 6

“Flooks” are flounders/flat fish – very tasty! The interviewer asks about the Vivid , rather than the Rely which was the family boat Govie was describing! 8 Mowatt’s Lane is the interviewer’s own street in the village where her family home, built by her grandfather, still stands which she still owns and where she lived for part of her childhood and youth 7


Celia: But the previous boat was the Vivid? Govie: the Viking9 – no, the Vivid was anither ane that Roy bocht – on his own and that was fan ? “somebody” left…… and took ower. Celia: What style o boat was she? Was she a carvel? Govie; A Fifie. Celia: A Fifie. Were they decked? Did they hae decks? Govie: Yes, the Rely too was amang the first ti pit in an engine – 1912 , now this is 1912, a 15 horse power Kelvin paraffin engine an it wis the mill engineers that intalled it Celia: That’s interesting. When you wid hiv maybe gaen doon ti the herber,fin ye were 10, 11, 12 or - hae -ing a look around, were ye – ye said 40 boats, did ye? Govie: Thirty Celia: Thirty boats. Did that look quite packed? (Aye, it was packed).. It was packed. Govie: They lay in three tiers, roughly, roughly three tiers across the herber and the middle tier , you could walk fae ae pier ti the ither, roughly. The May Queen, and the Rely and the Lizbeth – they were the tap tier – there’d mebbe been six or seven at that.... I jist forget foo mony. Celia: And the May Queen was my grandfather’s boat? Aye, that,s right. Now was the herring fishing completely past by the time you were a youngster? (Yes ) It was completely over? Govie; I canna mind nothing. Celia: Nothing aboot that at a because I do believe my grandfather and them went to Scarborough – That’s right – so presumably had yer father, had he - gin ti the herring in Scarborough etc. – Yes - Very interesting. Was there, em, maistly line fishing at that time,or wid there hae been a bit o net fishing, any shell fishing? Govie: Well, now, ah, as I gither, the main fishing alang the east coast was the herring, a alang the coast and the herring boats here, ye see, were a bittie bigger although they ….likit the herring and they were crewed, six or seven men to thir crew and they cairried sae mony nits per man and I dinna ken whether it was regulated. That was the main fishing and fin they were at the herring which started in Merch and April up north and they followed it a the wye and at that time that was the main


Govie later clarified to me that the Viking was another boat built by James Mowatt, a sister to the Rely.


fishing and so the line fishing was jist the littler boaties jist baiting bitties o line and gaein Celia: Ye say that women werena involved in the baiting at that time? Yes, they were. They still were. Aye. When yer father and my grandfather had been gaein ti the sea, and the herring wis past, it wid hae been the lines they were gaein till? That’s right. Yes, and the women were already baiting the lang lines. Main catch wis therefore…? Govie: Haddock, whitings, codlings, jist the same thing as.. Celia: Any shell fishing? Anybody fish for … Govie: There wis, ye see that wis a seasonal thing too. That wis the summer time. Efter Merch when the fish spawned, and the inshore fishing sort o fell awa, twa/three gaed ti the creels, twa/three gaed ti the lines and then about the late 20s, they first started - they gaed ti the flukes – first – and the Danish seine nit came in, the haddock nit. Now that had only started aboot – here onywye – aboot the late twenties, early thirties and I can remember in 1934/35, my uncle coming fae the herber, up ti the herber, and shoutin up the stair, “Willie Cargill come eer!” He says, “Gae wa doon the pier and see fit they’re dohin .” And this wis Davity Andrew and Joe Craig wi the Trustful – (Oh right, aye aye)10 – wi a twa cylinder engine and a haddock nit and they gaed oot and they were i the herber filling boxes and they were up ti thir waists, wi sma fishies – (Goodness). And Geordie Mill sed that then, he says, “They’re startin something noo at they’ll nae feenish” Ye see the results o it. Celia: Yes, ye see, changed days, certainly noo. That’s interesting. When you were growin up as a child in Gurden and that was the style o fishing that was going on, em, what did you feel aboot life? Did life seem hard or did it seem just run o the mill. How would you describe what it was like as a boy? Govie: Ye didna ken nae ither thing –( a laddie?) – Ye didna ken nae ither thing, so ye jist followed on. And it was understood fae day one that ye hid ti help. I mean, aabody i the faimly hid to help. Help ti shiel i the morning, help ti redd lines or what have ye.11 Ye jist did yer bit and that wis aa thir wis till ‘t. Celia: And ye become very well accustomed ti aa the different parts – the shielin, baitin, the reddin …. Ye cud doh’t Govie: Lang afore ye left school ye cud doh aa that. 10

Interviewer excited because her father later also skippered another Trustful Line fishing was labour intensive for both fisherman and fisherman’s wife who had to shell enough mussels first thing in the morning to enable her to bait a long line with 1200 hooks, often at least two mussels per hook while her man had to go to sea to shoot the line off the stern of the boat, haul it in and unhook the fish, then come ashore to land the catch, unravel the twisted line, replace any missing hooks, ready for his wife to bait next day, as well as take the line she had baited and “redd” it back to the start, ready for shooting next day. A long, oblong “basket” called a “scull” was used for baiting the line in neat rows of musseled hooks. Round baskets were used for the lines brought in from the sea and for the “reddit” line, ready for baiting. Reddin back moved the newly coiled line after it had been baited from one end of the scull to the other, ready to be shot over a funnel at sea , allowing the line to run out and fish. 11


Celia: Fit wis it they caa’d it – ye’d ti redd the back, ti prepare the line for shootin aff and ye also e hid to redd the line fin it cam in aa rave-elt – yes, That’s right. Celia: Fit aboot yer first berth, Govie. Faa did ye ging ti the sea wi first? Govie: Well, now, I , ti be - I’ll diverge a wee bittie. I gaed awa fae Gurden and I gaed inti the merchant service – Right – but I did six months in a training school in London. Prince o Wales And through a bittie o a mix up, I wis encouraged to ging as an apprentice i’ the merchant service. .Now the bit wis that the man that started me gaein, he wis a navy man, a naval officer, so he didna ken much aboot the merchant service and the twa that wis influencing me wis the skeul maister, Johnstone and mi father and nane o them hid been ti the merchant service but fin we were doon there in London we were trainin for the merchant service so we got ti ging aboard the ships – we jist used ti ging doon ti the docks and ye got aboard and aa ither thing and I saw fit the situation wis and I didna want ti ging as an apprentice an of coorse, again apprenticeships ye sent yer … fit di ye ca it …some kind o papers, documents…. papers – that ye need to be an apprentice for an apprenticeship , aye, according the companies ye were wi, the indentures wis ….scales, ye see. Well, my indentures wis £10 - uh haah - so this wis very low, so I joined the Dulwich in Cardiff on the 6th January 1937 – aye – when ye were 16 - I wisna quite 16 – and I did the first trip doon ti the Plate ti Rosario, taking coal and brocht back grain ti Manchester and we cam roond back to Cardiff and wi gaed the second trip and it wis early April. The day I wis 16 I wis puttin on watch – hid to keep fornoon watch, sharing watch … Tak twa oors at the wheel – tak twa oors. The day I wis 16 wis on a Sundi and it wis toomin – Happy birthday - so and that wis on the road doon – so I feenisht that trip. Wi cam up ti Boston. We gaed fae Boston ti Santa Cruz, loaded sugar and cam ti London and I cam hame. Celia: Was that exciting, that kinda world – Aye – world voyaging? Govie: I enjoyed it. The only thing was, ye see, bein the dogsbody, ye got aa he mucky jobs ti doh Celia: Aa the fool (dirty) jobs… Govie: Yes, and the bit wis, the bit that really annoyed me wis through bein at the trainin school, I kent mair aboot the sea than the merchant naval seamen. And the fact that I gaed ti the sea onywye. So I decided I wisna gaein ti be – so I cam hame and we contacted the mercantile office in Aiberdeen . It wis Captain Simpson i’ Bervie and mi faither speired if there wis ony chance – he says if I see anything I’ll let ye know. Well, very near a year gaed by and there wis nevir nae word and nevir nae wird. So, yer grandfather wis gaein ti the flukes oot o Stoney 12and een ae his crew grew unweel and wis taen ashore and he was only ashore twa three days when he deid. And I started wi yer grandfather the day the Exhibition opened i’ Glesga.


Stonehaven – 12 miles up th coast from Gourdon


Celia: REALLY! That was 1938, wis it? That’s right. Cause my father and your brither, Willie Cargill went doon to Glesga ti the Empire Exhibition in a hired car, wi a runnin board and nae wipers. Govie: That’s fin I started gaein wi him. And wi were roond at Stoney. It wis Joseph Craig. Fit relation ti the Craigs I didna ken – some relation ti you. Celia: Aye, it wid be. Which Joseph Craig was that? Govie: Ina Craig wis his doth-er. …Josephy – bade roon the back in a little hoosie. Yes, yes… his son, he wis gaein and me and him hid bit ae a difference – so I says right, that’s it. And I only gaed fae Maie till August and I left and cam hame. The first job I got I hid ti set up mi ain twa lines and then I’d to get a baiter, a wifie ti bait and then I started the lines wi him.

Govie and crew at sea on the Rely. Govie at stem/bows, Willie Dorward in hold, Willie Lownie, at wheelhouse Celia: Wi yer father? Yes. Yer father still hid the Rely, at that time? I wis jist gaen ti interrupt ye briefly, sorry. Fishing oot o Stoney – obviously Stoney wis still a pretty vibrant port at that time. Compared wi Gurden, wid it hae been in par wi Gurden? Govie: No, I widna say on par. There wisna very mony boats gid oot. In fact nearly aa the boats gid oot o Aiberdeen. Celia: Fit wis the allure o fishing oot o Stoney? Govie: Deep water, deep water. Ye could git oot and in mair or less only time. Celia: Nae affected by the tides. 7

Govie: And there wis mair buddem for floatin, saft buddem. Celia: How many o ye were livin aboard the May Queen? Govie: Wi werena livin aboard the May Queen (Ye werena livin aboard the May Queen) . The ither boats wir. Bobby Stewart, Robert Gowans and his brither, Jimmy and the – fa wis the ither lad – it disna maitter – there wis three o them bidin aboard her and there wis three o us – yer father, and – my grandfather – yer grandfather and me and we had a room fae a Mrs Mill doon at the herber. Celia: Ooh, this is really interesting. I didna ken aa this detail aboot mi grandfather, in Gurden parlance – deddie. Govie: And eh, we’d come ashore ivery day and wi slept at this room – jist shakk doons, of coorse but wi wis up at three o clock i’ the morning till three o clock i’ the aifternoon, ye see. Ging hame and wash yer face, hae something tae eat, seek sixpence ti ging ti the picters. Because ye hid ti get – borrow fae the skipper. Ye didna cairry bawbees i’ thae days. Celia: Wis he aricht as a skipper? Govie:


… I didna care fir Joe …..fae day one …. (Too much) But, eh, no …

Celia: Then ye were back ti Gurden - ti ging oot wi yer father? Govie: And I cam back ti Gurden and I gaed wi mi father, started wi my father. Celia: Let’s tak a pause at that point, will wi, Govie? Celia: So , continuing then. Ye were gaen ti the sea wi yer father. Fit like wis that? Ye’d gotten a baiter, ye said somebody to shiel yer mussels? Govie: They baited the lines - yer mither? - No, mi ither baited mi fathe’s lines – ye see that wis the point again fin the lines wis on the go - if ye wis a member o a big family – like Nellie, Nellie wis workin i’ the mill, ye see but some ..if they hid sisters, aulder sisters, ye could git them, they could bait but itherwise ye hid ti hae aunties or some ither body. If ye wis on yer own and ye hid ti git a neutral, ye see ten ti one, ye didna git them And it made it harder at the end o the week too because ye hid ti pey yer baiter and sometimes the wages ye got, jist wisna quite enough to doh that – so that made it hard. But this wifie, Jean Lownie, she bade ower at the Warehole14 - Yes, I ken – and gaed mi a hand and we were gaen – started in August – and things were gaen alang swimmingly, we’ll say – hard up times -


Answer lost at this point when the tape was stopped and resumed prior to the upcoming pause. On checking with Govie, I discovered that he was referring to his fall-out with the other crewmember, Joseph Craig and that Adame Craig, the skipper was very easy going : he and Govie got on well1 14 Picturesque name for West Bay/Coldwell area of Gourdon, so called because of the large amounts of seaweed washed up in the bay area.


Celia: Hard up times, I wis gaena ask ye aboot that cause if ony details occur ti ye aboot conditions, or dreich winter weather, how things affected, ye ken, hardly getting by sometimes, poor catches or sometimes good catches? Govie: It wis, ye could very near pit fishing doon as a seasonal thing and we’ll start , say, fae January. Noo, in the end o December, beginning o January, the haddocks come inbye ti spawn and they come inti sand and gaen wi the lines, ye jist hid ti come oot o the herber , shoot and ye come in – 10 – 12 – 20 boxes but that wis only for mebbe a fortnight, or three weeks and they started ti move awa and then efter the Nor West breezes come, and cleared the water, February and Merch, that wis the codlin fishin feensihed an aa , finever the water cleared, baitin wisna muckle yoose. So ye hid … near ivery year fae the time I wis at the skeul up n till 38, 1938 /39, I used to pack up the lines at the end o Merch and ye wis aff the sea aa April and ye started again in Maie. That wis fin the next roond o haddock come on the go and that wis the system and at this time wis April 39, so I was aichteen on the 11th – Yes - mi britherin law-, Willie Dorrit15 cam doon the herber on the 12th, and said fit aboot joinin the Reserves? – The Royal Naval Reserves, ahhuh? - Now, ye wisna entitled but disna maitter – that’s jist a …. But I sed, “Willie, I’m jist new aichteen” but wi saw fit wis comin, ye see and ye kent fine ye wis gaen ti be called up – Yeap Celia: Cause the lads that were in the Royal Naval Reserve, my father,Willie Cargill, yer brither, hid been in it, they were called up first. Govie: Aye ah well, awa wi gaed – wi gaed ti Montrose and wi joined the Reserves. Celia: Wis yer father happy aboot that? Govie: Oh, he cudna doh nae ither thing. I mean, it didna mak nae difference because eventually ye kent (Called up anyway) fit have ye, ye wis gaen to be called up but at that time there wis a Bill gaen through Parliament aboot the militia and they werena sure fit the age wis gaen ti be, whither it wis gaen ti be aichteen or twenty, ye see. So aa them that wis atween aichteen and twenty to safeguard whither they wis gaen ti wear a kilt or a … decided to join the Navy.16 And that’s why quite a big draft gaed in at that time. And then that wis the start. I did my six weeks, come hame in Maie - far did ye doh yer six weeks? - Portsmouth – Pompey - come hame in June and fin I cam hame, my brither, John, he jist come doon a fortnicht afore that and that wis him joined. There wis a crowd o them – six o them joined at that time aathegither and that wis fan they were gien up for the War and then of course, that was that. Come hame and then second o September I wis called up. The day afore/ the day war wis declared, we were sitting in the Union Jack Club steps, ootside the Union Jack Club fin war wis declared – in Portsmouth/ - No, in London – and the first …..the air raid gaed aff and they jist used the underground tunnels at the stations far the trains wer – they jist used them as air raid shelters – and wi gaed in and this wis a bit o road that gid in ablow the railwye and of course, there wis a great lot o taxis but their engines wis still runnin, so if wi hid been there for very lang we’d aa hae been gassed. But it didna lest nae time and then wi gid doon ti Portsmouth. 15

Dorrit is Gurden parlance for Dorward The object was to avoid being called up/drafted into the Army once legislation was in place, the navy being preferred. 16


Celia: Fit did you feel aboot aa this? Ye ken, the war bein declared and the air raid right away. Did young men like yersel feel nervous or …jist … how did ye feel? Govie: Well, ye saw fit wis comin, ye see : ye kent fit wis comin. Ye didna ken foo lang it wis gaen a lest, pit it that wye, but ye saw fit wis comin – and ye jist – well, ye’d volunteered so ye’d nae option. Ye jist hid ti ging. So then, ah by the New Year, 39, I wis oot in India. We crossed India in a train – that wis anither first – Celia: Quite an experience. Now wis that fae Bombay ? …. Ti Calcutta. Govie: Ti Calcutta. Wi joined the ship in Calcutta – the HMS , the Ranpura - she wis a P&O Steamship - Fit wis her name? - the Ranpura . There wis three – the Ranpura, the Rawalpindi and the Ranchee. They were built in Trieste. And the Ranpura wis the only een ti survive. The ither twa wis baith sunk. The Rawalpindi that wis farEddie Bey fae Johnshaven wis taen prisoners early on i’ the War – and so I wis there for twa and a half year. And I wis oot in Mombassa and I got a draft ti the Masters which wis a whaler – and I did very near three year aboard her, gaen roond the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles. Celia: That sounds quite groovy! Govie: It wisna at that time. Conditions, conditions wis bad here but they were worse there. Celia; But ye hid been in yer Navy whites – for the Tropics? Govie: Aye – bare skin maist o the time! Celia: So burnt bare skin? Govie: I wis a black in Gurden. And then they cry aboot skin cancer. We should aa hae hin skin cancer if that wis the case. Celia: My father spoke aboot that as well. He was in the Med., of course, and Africa, ken Casablanca, across ti North America on Atlantic convoys. Govie: Aye, and then I come hame … Celia: Was that yer first leave that ye got? Were ye awa for a considerable period o time, months, a year? Govie: I’d only 45 days at hame in six years.. Goodness. Here. The himbist year I wis at hame I made up for’t. Ivery chince I got I wis… I think the railwye wis very near rin aff the road bringin me back and fore. Ivery chince I got I took it –Montrose Station - But that’s aa I hid - 15 days in fower year, five year. An I had / wis in Canada for twa and a half, twa year and I wis in Mombassa for three and then I hid the year to be in the ship fin I cam back. Fin I cam back, ye see ye hid a gid idea ye widna be sent awa again, things were beginning ti… ti wind doon? Yeh and I cam hame and started the lines again wi mi father. Mmmhm – and wis this still the Rely? -


Yes, Now, eh, mi brither-in-law, he wis invalided oot wi a bad stomach and he cam hame and he wis gaen ti the sea wi mi father… Celia: By the way, wis there feelings of relief and rejoicing when the War was over? Och aye. But were you aware o – like ye hid short leaves really until the last year o the War. Were you aware that the fishing wis just chuggin on as usual in yer absence? Or – was it – what was yer impression there? Did yer father speak aboot … Govie: They jist cairried on. They were restricted. They hid ti wait till daylight come in afore - they got ti ging oot and lie i’ the baie till the herber maister gaed doon and hauled up the flag and then they could …They werena allowed ti sail i’ the dark. Celia: Ye see, I didna ken that. That’s an interesting aspect. Govie: They werena allowed ti sail i’ the dark – durin aa the War years? Yes. They were restricted ti daylicht fishing. They hid ti get oot … because o the tide. Govie: They hid ti git oot for the watter but they hid ti lie i’ the herber until it wis licht enough and then awa.. End of Tape 1 (only one side – Side 1 - used on Tape 1) Tape 2 – Side 1 - continuation of War portion > back home again Celia: Okay, now, eftir the War, ye came back ti Gurden – and wir still speakin aboot inshore fishing, aren’t wi, Govie? That’s right A short distance but gradually efter the War, mebbe boats getting better engines – they could ging further afield. Can ye tell me fit it wis like fin ye cam back fae the War first? Any changes ye noticed…? Govie: Nae changes – no – There couldna be because thir wisna .. naebody could invest in onything, ye see. Ye couldna invest in boats .. apart fae … they could harldy get enough crews ti tak aa the boats ti the sea. But fin I cam back that wis een o the things that really astonished me that maist o the diesels wir in jist afore the War. I think Bri-mie hid a diesel Atlantic jist afore the War. I think he wis the first een and then eftir the War, Cuttlie,17 Jimmy Criggie - ye better tak that oot – Jimmy Criggie and Doh – y ( = diminutive of Joseph) they werena lang in pittin aboard diesels. The boats werena that muckle bigger. The Chrissie Criggie (Skipper Criggie’s boat) – well, she wis jist on the forty fit mark, bigger built. And then, by this time seine nittin wis improving. So that come April, fin the line fishin petered oot, some o them gaed awa ti the seine nit. This wis catchin haddocks, flukes, you name it – the Danish seine nit. And it started aff wi twa coils o rope at the side and then as the power increased and the boats increased and the power increased, coils and coils till yer speakin aboot six an sevin coils. That’s for the latest eens and of course, since then it’s gaen fae seine nittin ti trawlin and trawlin fir aathing and iverything. 17

Bri-mie and Cuttlie are nicknames/bynames for skippers Ritchie and Criggie, the latter being sensitive about this byname which is why Govie suggests taking his name out. Skipper Criggie is now long deceased – so perhaps the name can stand.


Celia: So gradually it became mair expensive for a skipper ti run his boat, buy his nets… Govie: Nae really, that’s a kinda false statement toh. Eftir the War, the government set up a scheme – Grant and Loan. If you could raise a £1000, ye got a grant ae a thousand and a loan o twa – so ye could get a new boat. And of course, eftir the seine nit got goin, things wis improving,markets wis grouwin better and aa ither thing. So to get a boat that wye wis quite aisy in a sense. So eence ye got a start, ye see, things improved but the thing wi Gurden wis there wisna nae nae Gurden interest. Celia: Naebody took up the Grant and Loan? Govie: I think I had the only Grant and Loan Celia: Did ye - because I wis gaen to say when did you start being a skipper yersel or were ye still wi yer father at first? Govie: I wis wi my father till he wis retired.. Celia: Fan wis that? Govie: ’53 and then I gaed … by this time wi hid the Lisbeth ( Elizabeth) – She wis Willie Lownie’s boat18 And then, wi were gaen to the creels i the summertime and the lines i’ the wintertime. I wis nevir very intereted in seine nittin to be quite honest. I didna like the principle ava. Because? Over – fishin. Celia: Ye were aware o that, even at that time? Govie: Ye didna hae to be aware ae it. Fin ye gaed, they were shuffling fower times ower the side fit they were bringin ashore. Ye’ve nae On the pier - Govie's father, Willie idea – the slaughter - ………..Here …wis mair Cargill cutting flukes for creel bait or less under – towed boats. I mean they were on the right : Govie, lower left and aa gettin bigger and better – so if they were crew making up creel bait - upper bringin in ten boxes here and shufflin aa that – thirty, ye can imagine fit the rest were.. left, Celia: And thisupper thirty right, wis undersized? Bobby Mellis, Wulsy Gray, lower right, Willie Dorward Govie: They were aa killed. Ye see, nae wye can ye run a business. A fermer his ti keep grain and sawed and let it grouw. Ye hiv ti pit in tatties and let it grouw. The fishermen wis takkin aathing oot and nae pittin nithin in.


See Interview with Willie Lownie’s son, James Lownie who refers to the Elizabeth


Celia: So you’re saying that the seeds o this over-fishin started back in the 50s as boats became mair powerful and seine netting started scraping up everything? Govie: Aye .. that’s right … - it moved, it moved fae even here wi bringin in thirty and fifty boxes. Maybe five boats bringin in forty boxes, 200 boxes eftir aa the rest o the boats cam in. Well, the rest o the fish hooses couldna handle them but the first …….they were the size and they were fit for human consumption but they were ….jist gaen awa ti meal factories. Celia: Really? I didna realise that Govie: Och! Och! The fish merchants here …ivery morning – that’s foo they got the laaries .They loaded the larries ivery day and took them in fir fish meal. They got mair for fish meal than fir their catch. Celia; Terrible. Terrible So the traditional line fishing wis absolutely abandoned? Govie: It wis the best method o fishin. Celia: Well, ye got beautiful fish. I have never tasted fish like it since. Govie: Ye didna. Ye got very few undersized That wis aa the ..Afore the War, they used Scottish or Redditch hooks, 19s but they were littler.And before the War ye used to get quite a lot o sma haddocks aff the lines but fae 195019 on, ye got Mustads, 19s fae Norway and they were a bittie bigger. So it wis a bigger bait. Now, whither the bigger bait wis ower big for the little fishies or no.. but ye didna get near the same …ye got bigger …. Celia; Yes, yes. There’s a lot o skill involved in the line fishing, fae setting up the line in the first place and beatin on the hooks and maintainin it, wis there, wd ye say? In the really auld days, correct me if I’m wrang but mi deddie yoosed ti hae a steen that he yoosed fir the horse hair and ye hid ti twine it, suspended it from this. Now what wis this steen caa-ed again. Gosh, fit wis it? A tippin steen. Govie: A tippin steen. A cocoa tin filled wi lead, wi a brass nail bent ower the tap. Cleekit it in and then ye span ‘t till ye jist felt the twist comin in Celia: The horse hair twistin properly. And ye yoosed that to beat it on -- a span apart Govie: To feenish up they were aboot thirty-two inches – apart – but they were closer than that ti start. Celia: And yer still speakin aboot 1200 hooks. And the women shieled and baited for that. 20 The men shot them aff and pulled them in, fishies on quite a few o the hooks? 19

Interviewer corrects 1915 to 1950 The line was hung with 1200 hooks suspended at intervals from the length of the line from smaller lengths of twisted horse hair originally, replaced by a nylon product latterly. Before the lengths of horse hair could be attached at regular intervals, the strands had to be spun into a firm twist using the 20


Govie: Aye – well, sometimes – aye the fishing wis better eftir the War, fither it was the rest that the fishin grunds got fir the five or six eer o the War, cause the North Sea wisna trawled ti the extent and eftir that, ye see it wisna only the trawlers. The seine nitters started gaen and that took aff. Celia: And then there was little protection for British waters. Would that be correct, Govie? There was the Cod Wars, the Icelandic… Govie: They’d only the three mile limit for a start. That wis the international limit and then they increased it to six and then , of course, the Cod War came alang and Iceland, they claimed a hundred Celia: It was huge – it was a big exclusion zone. Govie: And ye see that’s the reason, I would say that’s the reason they hiv a viable fishin - we hinna noo. Celia: What di you reckon went wrang that we didna claim a larger exclusion ground because we were trapped wi the Russian Klondykers and goodness knows what?

Govie seated redding the line, assisted by Jake Freeman.

Govie: Aye but, that is ..kinda say big business. The Klondykers cam across - the factory ships – yes, the factory ships and they hid twa/three trawlers working wi them. Well, ye see the trawlers did the same. And then .. fae the seine nitters .. they got that sort o size …and increased the power and increased the fishing range, increased thir gear till they were very near fae tap ti buddom and nothing cud escape. Noo the fishers can blame onybody they like but …

Celia: Di ye think it will ever be retrievable? No No . Nae sure if you watched that – there was a Trawlermen programme …but there wis anither programme aboot boats and one o the state-o- the art trawlers, a huge trawler, you could really say it hoovered

tippin steen which was spun and weighted appropriately. Govie mentions a cocoa tin but I believe actual weights were also fashioned, with an embedded hook for attaching the horse hair which had to be purchased and replaced when the lengths were torn off in the process of shooting the line and fishing it. The hooks had to be beaten on with strong thread once the lengths of horse hair were in place. Hooks also became detached and had to be replaced. Line fishing was labour intensive in all in elements for both man and woman, usually husband and wife. Baiting and shelling mussels, redding, the tangled shot line and replacing broken/torn lengths, ensuring the new hook was neatly coiled and fastened ino the line lengt, - tippin, beatin on, redding the back, shooting and hauling the line. I can remember too stretching a new line with my father along the braes, pulling it out to its full length prior to use : I can also remember “barking” the lines, immersing them in a solution of “bark”, to treat and preserve them prior to first use. Govie can also supply further information on the number of hanks making up the line and on the snoods, the lengths to which the hooks were attached.


up everything, scraped right alang the bottom, hoovered everything up, came down in huge tunnels and funnels – that’s the end. Govie: I dinna think they’ll ever come back. The Canadians wi the Newfoundland Banks and roond the coast, they banned cod fishing for umpteen years until the stock cam back till it’s workable now but ye see they still hiv the same problem. So this is the Newfoundland Bank. This side comes inside, a party that comes inside Canadian - coast - waters – but the ither side there’s …, so ye still hiv the trawlers drawin up and doon – so again that canna come back ti fit it wis. Celia: Now tell me aboot fin you became a skipper.. did that – wis that a good time in your life? - I liked bein a skipper - Wis this wi the Reaper or did ye hae a boat previous ti the Reaper? Govie: Aye - efter the Leezbeth (Lizbeth : Elizabeth) and then we got the Reaper .She wis 42 fit, wi a twa- cylinder diesel engine. And we still gaed ti the lines and we still gaed ti the creels and so on. But I didna care an affa lot for the creels aither. It wis tae me affa scuttery wye a dohin. But we made a good enough living aff ae it – aye sometimes, some summers. But we aye managed ti survive. I likit the lines. That wis my favourite thing. Celia: Did Margaret like the lines? Yer wife. Govie : She’d nae complaint. She ..- well, pit it this wye. Margaret marriet a fisherman and fitiver … and neutrals cam in…. But ye see, afore I wis at this game, it wis mainly this ….fishermen, the women wis slaves…….aa the mairriet couples, baith o them exactly the same – That’s true Naebody says so noo Celia: No but it wis regarded as a pretty hard job for women, wisn’t it? Up early, very eident work, kinda conscientious, and leanin ower the skull, baitin, and line after line. Govie: Aye, in a sense it was a work o art, baitin a line - to see the mussels and the heuks, tippin oot, and say that’ll ging ower the side wi nae a hitch wis … Celia: No funnel bunches?


Govie: Very few. If there wis funnel bunches – somebody caused it …haulin the heuk oot. Celia: Fin your children were born, you wid hae been the skipper o the Reaper by that time, were ye? Govie: Betty wis - canna mind – disna matter – I remember teaching Isobel – at Mackie - fifty seven. ’57 wis Betty and ’60 wis Isobel. The next part is barely audible and blurred, possibly as a result of looking away or lowering the voice while 21

Govie is referring to process of shooting the baited line off the stern of the boat, using a funnel, a type of cylinder to ensure smooth running out. If the line was badly and unevenly baited, the line would not flow smoothly but become trapped around the funnel, creating a snarl, requiring clearing, at sea and requiring untangling and repairing back on shore.


thinking something out. Govie appears to say: Ye see,they were lucky in a sense toh. Ye see. Mi mither wis …- he then goes on to suggest that his mothe,r and his wife’s sister, Betty helped out with shieling and baiting for a half an hour before (Betty) going to her work at the fish house. So they werena really bathered aboot it. I think Govie here means that the women folk, his wife and sister-in-law and mother had no complaints. He then goes on about the desirability of paying women for this work, something that was never done in Gourdon, or perhaps anywherer in line fishing where the women in the family simply worked for the good of all. The only thing they did wrang aboot it - and this anither side to the thing – the only thing they did wrang aboot it and I’m afraid the accountants didna gie ye very muckle insicht but they shoulda …peyed/gien the wife a wage and peyed the stamp but they widna. If ye speired that, they widna say “Aye this is the thing to doh” Wi the result that a thae years Margaret wis workin but she wisna peyin the stamp. Celia: She wisna getting a wage. None o the women got a wage as such but… Govie: That’s right. But they should hae .. . they should hae gien them, they should hae puttin a stipulated price on it and seyn that’s that. Whither it wis the richt price or no, it didna matter a damn but… Celia: It’s an interesting thought that, an interesting thought. Govie: Because fin they stoppit shielin, fin they stoppit workin…inaudible – nippit in the bud. Celia: The traditional style, correct me if I’m wrang, Govie, wis ti em treat yer crew as share fishermen – work oot shares o whatever came in at the end o the week? Govie: Roughly – roughly. Gaen ti the lines – ye wis aa responsible for yer ain gear – ye hid to buy… Govie and Bobby Criggie at work unloading their catch at the harbour

Celia: Kin l jist pit this on Stop – At this point Govie’s sister-inlaw returned from a hospital

visit and we stopped to speak to her. Celia: So the role o women then wis quite a important role but a role that wisna actually waged and you thought maybe it could have been. Govie: Should hae been (Yes, aye). Ye see, a mairriet man – he could aye get his line baited but if you hid a son-in –law gaen wi ye, if he didna hae a sister that kid bait his line or kidna get a baiter, …


Celia; Younger women became less prepared to undertake the heavy duties o a fisherman’s wife? Govie: No – I widna say that - No - because – tak Bobby Criggie’s family - they gaed ti the sea and they got thir lines baited and ye see, I mean, they got better wages than they got in civvy street, at that rate, on average. Some didna but maist o the tap rankers got better wages than twa wid hae gotten workin i the Mill o twa wid hae gotten workin i’ the fishhoose because on average ye got better wages than them. And therefore it wis justified in that sense but the fact wis it should hae been declared as a wage sos that they could get aa the benefits- Absolutely - o the Stamp. Accountants widna pit ye through it.22 Celia: What sort o skipper were you? Were ye a hard taskmaster? Govie: No I got on aricht wi my crew. Celia: What size o a crew did ye hae? Govie: There wis fower ae us. Celia; Fa were they? Govie: My brother-in-law, ti feenish up wi The Reaper - Willie Dorrit 23 Willie Dorrit, Sandy Don? - Sandy Don and ti feenish up wi – Desmond – Desmond Flannagan – yer nephew – Afore that Willsy Grey Ye jist came doon and ye jist – aabody wis gaen and you decided fan ye wis gaen. You did it but there wis .. the standard - Shald Water 24 Celia: Foo far awa is the Shald Water?25 Govie: Aboot 16 miles – 16? – the Hirst wis aboot the same – but aff Skateraw Celia: Far aboot wis the Shald Water exactly? Govie: South East - and eh, it’s the Montrose Bank if ye see a chart – that’s the same. But ye see there wis aye the competition and it wis a case o fa hid the best shot the day. There wis gaen ti be half a dizzen mair there the next morning or else ye wid git oot o synchronation wi the tides, so ye see I preferred raither ti let them ging their ain wye , try and synchronise the tides better, simple as that Celia: Wis it highly competitive? Were the fishermen competitive wi each other? Govie: Aye – very – aye –if I kid tell ye the truth. ….But I’m nae gaen ti.


The background noise is Govie tapping the table to emphasise his point here. William Dorward, Govie’s brother-in-law with Gurden pronunciation. Sandy Donaldson, usually shortened to Don. Desmond Flannagan, Govie’s nephew.Willsy Gray, an earlier crew member 24 Govie is referring to a favourite fishing ground out from Gourdon. The Hirst is another fiahing ground. 25 Shald means “shallow” 23


Celia: But yer nae gaen till. Fit aboot certain ither aspects, Govie, things like the railway? That wis important at one point, wasn’t it? Gourdon hid a railway station, then in the sixties Beeching axed many o them. That’s right. That had a certain effect . I remember my father used to send crabs to Billingsgate and that wis nae langer viable. They hid ti get anither route. Did that affect your fishing in any way, the railway? Govie; I suppose it did. I dinna ken really because I nivir really gaed in ti the … but afore the railway wis runnin, the merchants kid pack their fish inti boxes and ice and send them ti ony o the markets but efter that they couldna but then I suppose it a kinda worked oot that they bocht the codlin they couldna sell on the markes for their markets, retail here and took them inti Aiberdeen and they got ….. I take it. I canna prove it but I take it. Celai: That wis possibly the track Fit aboot communal aspects o village life, connected wi fishing, even tenuously, like the lifeboat? Did you feel that that played an important part? Something that you were conscious o’? Govie: Eh, this wis a touchy subject. Celia; Wis it? I didna realise it wid be. Wis yer family involved in the crew o the lifeboat? Govie: No, well but, ye hid the twa. Ye hid the Lifeboat and ye hid the Coastguards – Service. When it wis a sailing boat, sailin lifeboat, they actually hid three crews on the list but according ti fit boats they were sailin in and fither they were gaen ti the seine net, they widna be available ony time through the day. So they hid ti stick – ti different times in the day - mainly in shifts wi the result that that didna jist work satisfactorily and then fin the motor boat came on the go, there wis only sevin o a crew, ye see. Ye still needed ti haul so ye just hid the checks26…. and that took the ropes and hauled it doon an – I dinna like ti say it – Yer chosin yer words – well, tryin till. Some freends o the crew were favoured. Yes, I suppose they wid be. Aye, they hid the checks so they could mair or less doh aa they likit. But fin it wis a call-oot, ye jist maid a race for the lifeboat shed , they opened the door and they emptied the box o checks oot and fa evir got a check, that wis it. Celia: And fit wis a check exactly? Govie: Aye it wis, that wis fit ye got – it wis yer time for getting peyed. The crew , there wis a standard crew for the lifeboat but fin it wis a call-oot, the only eens that wis ready wis the coxswain, the second coxswain, the bowman. This part is blurred but the gist is that the crew was made up thereafter of whoever came on the


This refers to the designated lifeboat members who had collected “chits” enabling them to be accepted to form the crew on any day, somewhat on a first come, first served basis, I believe, though there was rivalry for the honour of crewing the lifeboat. On practice days as opposed to call - out days the issue was less fraught! The suggestion is that when checks were being issued, certain people were favoured and others ignored. In early lifeboat times checks were in the form of red and blue coloured armbands but latterly they were like alloy tokens inscribed with RNLI. (Information supplied later by Govie)


scene first. I mean, if you were there first, … and the rest wis jist haulers and man handlers and then of course, the lifeboat moved fae being haulers ti a tractor. Celia: I remember it when it wis haulin – cause I remember we used ti aa ging doon ti the lifeboat shed and ye got hid o the rope as well alang wi the men, the little kids, like mesel and bairns haulin it through the toon. Govie: The photo that’s in the apparatus shed - ye see them haulin the lifeboat through the toon. 27 Celia: I think it’s a sound thing – it wis a communal activity that seemed to bind people. Govie: And then the Coasties – they hid a set crew too, ye see – being on watch? No – callin oot… the rockets, ye see. There wis a wee bittie o undertow there. You shalt not tread on my ground. Jimmy Scott and them, the Scotts at the fit o the Lane they were staunch apparatus men. Ye see I can mind, I can jist mind o the apparatus men and the lifeboat men fin they hid the great big … Celia: The first lifeboat I mind wis the Margaret Dawson but you’ll mind before that? Govie: The Moss wis the last haulin and sailin boat and she gaed awa and – is that a power cut? Celia: Di you remember as a bairn haulin the lifeboat through the toon? Cause I remember that – the next generation sort o thing. Govie’ s response is blurred at this point. He appears to refer to Willie Douglas who was the village’s chief musician, perhaps meaning Willie Heath who was the “engineer” responsible for operating the tractor that hauled the lifeboat. Celia: I believe … I was speaking ti ye aboot social aspects – so just come in wi onything ye want but I believe like mi father, you yerself, did you star in the class Cantata that they put on - The Midshipmite? My father mentioned that sort o thing. 28 Govie: I wis inti – (mentions one of the Cantatas) Celia: They encouraged a lot o dramatic and musical talent? Govie: It wis an annual event and he started, that Johnstone started.Fin the een ye wis dohin had feenished its run and then ye mebbe hid holiays cam in atween and then the next ye gaed back, ye got the books. And they were near aa three act plays, so ye started at the front and ye aa sang the chorus; ye aa sang the duets; ye aa sang the solos, wi the result that aabuddy, by the time they pickit the thing, aabuddy kent the 27

The former apparatus shed down in the centre of the village is now a Museum, also housing the former surf boat, The Maggie Law which preceded the lifeboats. 28 Each succeeding “Top Class” starred in the yearly Cantata organised by the Head Master, Mr Johnstone and the primary school’s teachers. In his time too my father took the principal role, involving singing and acting.


pairts. They didna ken the words but they kent aa the sangs. Then eftir the summer holidays ye gaed back ti rehearse this , the play and then they pickit the thingmies, the principles and ye gaed through ti the different rooms wi the teachers and they put ye through yer paces and ye hid ti learn them and ye hid ti be book perfect, I’m telling ye. There wis no nonsense thunder (there/under). And then ye hid the practices. And ye’ll mind the middle room the maisters up here, there wis twa doors, een at the front and een at the back. That wis the anteroom. That wis far the off- stage crowd wis and they used ti come in and fin – aathing hid ti dovetail. Ah well, that wis aboot that. The local orchestra – Wis this the silver band, Willie Douglas?29 - No, oh no, this wis a bunch a – I think it must hae been Willie Douglas. Bit there wis Willie Douglas and Henry Craig - eh - Davidson, the shoemakkar at Bervie (next village north of Gourdon) - he hid the twa hairdressers and he played the bass fiddle – oh right – eh, een o the pinters – fit did ye caa him – Clarkies – een o the Clarkies played the fiddle and Willie Douglas played the fiddle. Onywye fin we wis rehearsing i’ the skeul, they brocht the cookin tables through and they set them on the tap o the desks and the band got up there … that gied ye the floor and the twa doors, ye see. So ye come in and ye rehearsed the first Act and the next Act and of course it wis … sang the choruses. Mr Davidson standin on the edge, aside a winda and they were inset, ye see. He steppit aff and he …Laughter as this tale of misfortune is recounted. He gaed - the bass fiddle gaed .The fiddle went oot? The fiddle gaed through… He went through..?? No, he didna but the bass fiddle did. The bass fiddle did. Oh dear, pandemonium! Pandemonium! Bit then, fin aathing wis gone, ye gaed ower and ower and ower’t. Ye got yohsed ti . ye see ivery day – half oor i’the morning, an oor, Tuesdays and Thursdays – fae three till fower and this wis fit wis goin on. Plus ye hid a prize givin concert ti get up an ye hid a concert for Christmas – aa hid ti be gotten up. Celia: And then the haill o the village wid come and listen ti that. Govie: It wis three days, three nichts. Celia: It’s very good, very good Govie: And then ye cam, at ye hid ti ging doon - the week o the concert there wis nae skeu. Ye started on Monday. It wis Widensday, Thursday and Fray-day, ye see. So ye started on Monday and ye gaed doon fae the skeul, doon ti the Hall and ye did the first Act or maybe twa Acts and then next day ye wid doh the third Act. Tuesday ye wid ging aa through it and then, cam Widensday noo, this is the deal, the end, started on Widensday nicht and the Hall used ti be packit a Widnesday, the opening nicht, but wisna sae fuhl on the Thursday. But Fray-day again it wis packit because the Mill wis aff and aa ither buddy wis at hame –and on Fray-day they hid a dince eftir’t. Super. So that wis it and honest, the waas yohsed ti be runnin a sweat. Sweat. Condensation. Great times. I fair enjoyed it ti be quite honest. Celia: I believe that the boats were in a sense involved in some o the ither celebrations in the village. For example, my father used to speak aboot pittin the flags up for a wedding. Wis that something that you were … 29

Willie Douglas was a talented fiddler who organised and trained two village bands, a silver band and a brass band. He taught violin to local lads too. My father once received one term’s tuition from Willie and went on to become a fair fiddler himself.


Govie: Aye, ony wedding. Ye jist hauled – anonymous. Ye jist hauled them. Aabuddy put up flags. That wis pairt o the village life.

Okay. This is Side 2 of Tape 2 and Govie wis ti sum up some o his final thoughts and ideas aboot fishing, past and present. Govie: Aye – gae-in ti the sea, to be honest, I enjoyed it. Ye kid say – I canna say I didna ken nae ither thing because I hid been awa fae hame for quite a spell. I knew anither job – I cud hae left it an gaen awa ti that bit I likit gae- in ti the sea and it wis competitive. Ye tried ti keep things on a level keel and fit hiv ye. And ye see eftir the 60s, 70s, there wis nae young lads started. And actually the writing wis on the waa then because the catches were getting less aff the lines, aff the seine nit – we wis getting less – and so that it jist gradually deid oot and it wisna worth for here, it wisna worth because if ye wantit ti get a boat, ye hid ti get a big een and join the big boys and then that wis awa fae hame. Ye micht as weel ging awa ti the sailin or joined the Navy or done ony ither thing. Celia: Fan did you actually retire? Govie: I retired fin I wis 65 – in ’85 – 87? Celia: Did ye find retirement difficult after.. No Govie: No, I’ve aye haen something ti doh. Govie points to tapestries displayed on the walls of the room. Celia: Oh I like …? Govie: Tapestry. Celia; Oh is that yours? Oh tapestry? That’s beautiful. Govie: I did … Betty brocht that een 30 In a licht – ye’ll see’d better. Turn that licht up. We examine the different tapestries on the walls – some very intricate – work requiring Patience, skill and good eyesight! Celia: Now ye were speakin aboot tapestry. That was something ye did when ye retired. Govie: Still gaed oot wi the boys singin - the concert parties - Willie Beattie and the Burns Suppers and what have ye. I wis a founder member o the Fisher Folk. That wid be, fit? Six eer seen. Wis that a singin group? Aye – it wis locals – AngusThow, Bobby Gowans, Margaret’s husband and Alan Mackie roond here and 30

Betty is Govie’s elder daughter.


we gid doon ti Johhshaven Sea Festival31 the seecond year. And the they were doon the next year. I jist gaed the first year it startit aff and then ach I jist got – I kept it goin – it’ll be five eer seen the last time… Celia: There’s certainly been a tradition o Gourdon fishermen getting involved in things like the Pensioners and various concert parties. Govie: Well, ye hid ti mak a lot o yer ain entertainment. Ye see,fin ye ging back far enough, aa weddings werer mair or less open. It wis mair or less on the same principle as … I mean ye didna get invitations – the band wis there – and if ye gaed, ye took yer ain grub – and – nae in my time. That wis the wye it gaed, so atween the weddings and the organised dances at the fitba club, or fitiver – that wis the only entertainment ye hid, except for the skeul. Celia; There were dinces. My father mentioned gaen ti dinces, Bervie, Johnsivin, ye walked ti get ti the dances. Govie; Benholm, Kinneff. Govie’s soster-in-law interjects that there was a bus available sometimes. Celia: Yer speakin about people joinin in with or without an invitation made me think about First Fittin, at Hogmanay and inti New Year. It was open house. Ye visited different people’s houses. Well, people that ye did ken but… Govie: Well, but - fin ye mind back aboot it, there wisna the same money gaen far ye kid ging ti the hotel and get half fou afore the New Year come in I mean it wis limited. In fact, it wis a struggle ti git, sometimes ti git a bottle o whisky i’ the hoose afore Hogmanay but it wis an understood thing that ye gid ti the dince and ye come oot at twelve o’ clock and ye gaed – hame – well, I wis gaen wi Joseph 32 roond – we wis chums, so we cam doon here and we kid ging alang there33 – That’s right – and then mebbe some ithers ye met and ye gid – but that wis the total but far iver ye gaed ye hid ti doh yer party piece. Celia: Yes, that wis right, party pieces and of course, the aulder fishermen kept Auld Yol. Govie: That’s right. Oh aye I mind o yer– my grandfather – yer grandfather and his twa brithers, ivery Auld Yol - the three o them and their pipes34 Celia: I remember eence, my mither thocht that the New Year Festivities were well and truly over and we were just relaxin and suddenly there wis a knock at the door an in cam Edom and Jimmy, that’s my grandfather and his brother and and they sat doon


Govie is probably referring to the yearly Fish Festival held in the next village, Johnshaven. The people mentioned in the Fisher Folk are relatives and neighbours. 32 Joseph, my uncle, killed when his ship The Beverley was torpedoed in 1943, was a pal of Govie’s. 33 Govie means they would go to his parents’ house and then along to Joseph’s parents’ house. 34 Pipe smoking was customary among the older fishermen while the younger men favoured cigarettes if they smoked.


and they giggled and they sed, “We’re celebratin Auld Yol” and out had ti come the rum and whisky once more. Govie: They widna ging ti the …. then - we did, they didna… Celia: They didna – you were een o the first, Govie, if I’m correct, ti nae ging ti the sea on Christmas day because you hid young family cause Christmas wisna kept. Thta’s right. That’s right. Ye gid ti the sea on Christmas day and certainly I got my presents fae my Gurden granny on New Year’s Day and fae my Mum and Dad on Christmas Day. That’s right. Govie; Aye, I stoppit that ae year and then the next year, anither een stoppit – Ye established a tradition – and then they jist stoppit gaen. And then, of coorse, the merchants, they fell inti line toh. Celia: But that’s … Any final thoughts because we must stop. Govie: To be honest, I’ve enjoyed it. I canna - I ken there’s things I should hae done, ken there’s things that I cud hae done better bit .. Celia: By and large, ye made a gid job o bein a fisherman? Govie: I think so. Celia: I think so. So thank you very much indeed. Thank you. Govie: Thank you.


Andrew Gove Cargill (Govie) Interview (7/9/06) – Synopsis Fishing in Gourdon                       

The early days – the appearance of Gourdon harbour – Govie’ s father’s boats Gourdon boat builder Types of fishing – herring, line fishing, baiting the lines, redding the lines Govie’s apprenticeship and merchant service days Fishing off Stonehaven, with The May Queen. Fishing at different seasons Joining the Navy – Second Word War Service – training – Pompey (Portsmouth) War declared – air raid – London/Union Jack Club In India – 1939 – the Maldives, Mauritius, the Seychelles Leaves Post War Gourdon – after the War time restrictions Changes – seine net fishing more common - diesel engines – the Government’s Grant and Loan scheme Personal preference for line fishing above shell fishing or seine net fishing Over-fishing becomes a problem, with seine net fishing – in the 50s Large catches – fish meal Lines – detailed information on hooks and processes More problems – Cod War – Icelandic exclusion zone – Klondykers – factory ships – fishing in peril – irretrievably lost in Govie’s opinion The role of women in line fishing/baiting – suggestion that women should have been waged to benefit from the Stamp Govie as skipper – share fishing – fishing grounds used by Gourdon fishermen The Gourdon Lifeboat and Coastguard/Apparatus Services – rivalries – launching the lifeboat – villagers participate – the “check” system Village life – the annual School Cantata and concert – village dances Summing up – final thoughts – retirement activities – Fisher Folk singing group – tapestry work Christmas – Hogamanay and New Year, also Auld Yol – in Gourdon



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