Ref NoWIN/019
CollectionWinstanley Oral History Collection
TitleMr. Bob Bishop interviewed by Michael Winstanley
Name of creatorWinstanley, Michael
Date14/02/1977 - 21/02/1977
Duration1 hr. 52 min. 36 sec.
Extent1 sound tape reel
2 audio file Waveform Audio
DescriptionMr. Bob, Bishop, born 1905, interviewed in Whitstable. Mr. Bishop's father was a Whelks fisherman who was originally from Sheringham, Norfolk. His mother was born in Whitstable. Bishop belonged to a family of 7: 4 boys, and 3 girls. Bishop's occupation was a fisherman of Whelks and Dredge Oysters, a plasterer in the 20s and 30s, and a fireman in the 40s and 50s.
Track 1 [1:35:37] [first interview: 14 February 1977] [0:00:00] Introduction: interview of Mr R E Bishop [RB] at his home 1 Reservoir Road Whitstable by Michael Winstanley of the University of Kent at Canterbury on 14th July and 21st February 1977. [0:00:16] Comments on family background, RB born Whitstable 1905, mother from Whitstable, father from Sheringham [Norfolk]. [0:00:44] Comments on move of Sheringham whelkers to Whitstable c 1901/2 to find new grounds. Description of differences in whelking techniques, Sheringham using whelk pots, Whitstable ‘trotting’ [immersion of fish offal in sea]. Detailed description of using whelk pots, ‘crinnies’ [nets], ‘bars’ [for bait], red belly crab bait, ‘shanks’ [lines of pots], ‘tows’ [ropes]. Remarks on problems with dredgers cutting lines. [0:09:22] Detailed description of differences between Sheringham and Whitstable built whelk boats, Sheringham needing galvanised nails for beaching, Whitstable using ‘rews’ [bolts] for harbour landings. [0:12:12] Detailed description of using ‘dipping lugs’ [engineless lug sail boats]. [0:15:18] Comments on start of motorised whelk boats, Jack Green’s Gertrude c 1923. [0:17:37] Remarks that Sheringham whelkers not welcome in Whitstable. [0:19:25] Detailed description of whelking areas, Church in Hole off Warden Point Sheppey, Spaniard, Middle and Redsand banks, Stone channel off Reculver. Mention of overnighting at Reculver pub. Comments on need for long trips to Girdler lightship and Gilman buoy to satisfy market. Mention of father’s boat the Lloyd George, so named as most Sheringham whelkers liberals. [0:23:30] Comments on dangers, whelkers including RB’s uncle drowned at Sheringham but not at Whitstable, boats not insured. [0:26:06] Remarks on perils of mooring in Whitstable harbour, crushing by large boats. [0:27:34] Mention that Jack Green, Billy (Piddy) West only original Sheringham whelkers still alive in Whitstable. [0:29:02] Comments on arguments over whelking grounds, fouling gear. Description of whelking off Redsand bank. Remarks on variation in whelks from different areas, customer dislike of large whelks. [0:36:36] Comments on using whelking boats to put ‘hufflers’ [pilots] on steamboats carrying stone into Whitstable harbour at Street buoy or Girdlers lightship. Mention that many boats Scottish. [0:37:42] Mention of family fish and chip shop, closed during World War 1. Remarks on difficult times early 1920s, RB left sea, father working in Chatham Dockyard. [0:39:18] Comments on whelking, boats manned by 2 or 3 men, motor boats having more gear, boats usually family concerns. Mention of Joiner brothers, Jack Green and son, father and son teams of the Whorlows, Coxes, Wests. Mention of RB’s father having boat with his uncle Derek West. [0:42:30] Comments on finances, boats jointly owned within family, system of allowing ‘share for the boat’ on oyster boats, avoidance of debt, clearance of expenses important. Mention of severe hardship in winter bad weather. Anecdote about living off Quaker oats washed ashore on barge at Tankerton. [0:46:34] Description of RB’s father repairing boats in harbour or on beach, ‘tingles’ [patching for hulls], making masts. [0:51:12] Mention of rarer whelks, left handed and red shelled Armontails. [0:53:18] Detailed description of maintenance of whelk pots, making ‘crinnies’ [whelk pot nets] with wooden needles. [0:58:10] Detailed description of cooking whelks, raising from boats in ‘wash measures’ [tubs], carrying on yokes, boiling in coppers in harbour sheds using water from standpipe. Mention that harbour sheds rented from the railway company who owned land. Mention of whelks being sent to station by lorry for Billingsgate, sale prices notified from Billingsgate by telegram. Mention of Mr Frost buying by sack, sending whelks to Ramsgate, Margate, Dover for sale on summer stalls. [1:03:36] Mention that Whitstable station originally at the junction of Oxford Street, Canterbury Road, Belmont Road. Mention of RB living in Westgate Terrace [Whitstable] near electricity station shut after shaking nearby houses. [1:05:40] Remarks on selling whelks locally, in pubs, in a shop in Whitstable, RB’s father having regular buyers. [1:08:16] Detailed description of crab/whelk boats, rowing/sailing changing to motor engines, first Gardners single cylinder then Kelvins petrol/paraffin. Detailed description of sail whelk boat construction. [1:15:29] Comments on sail making; local sail makers Gambrill, Lawson, Goldfinch, frequenting pubs; hard times after World War I due to ships being sunk and change to steam. Mention of sail maker Harry Goldfinch, son Ray and employee Alf Humphrey. [1:20:13] Description of whelk pots, originally ordered from Sheringham, later made by local blacksmith Harold Leney. [1:27:52] Remarks on RB’s early work, going to sea with father and younger brother during summer holidays, whelking and trawling with father c 1919, working in oyster store. [1:30:12] Detailed description of sailing garments, leather boots, creating oil skin ‘frocks’ with linseed and oil, buying sou’westers from Great Yarmouth, stiff brimmed fishermen’s hats.

The following is summarised from the transcript for the second interview..
Track 2 [not known] [second interview 21 February 1977]. Comments on dangers of whelking, Billy West hitting beacon on oyster beds, no weather forecasting, problems of navigating using only watch and compass, using paint cans as buoys for gear. Comments on Sheringham whelkers, many Salvation Army, living mainly in Albert Street/Sydenham Street/Woodlawn Terrace area. Mention of RB’s father paying into Friendly Deposit for insurance and sickness benefit.
NotesTranscript exists for this interview.
PhysicalDescription1 sound tape reel : analogue, 5 inch reel, 9,5 cm/sec, 2 track, mono
Waveform Audio
Related OrganisationUniversity of Kent
Related PlaceWhitstable, Kent
Access filenameWIN-019-001A-A.mp3
WIN-019-001B-A.mp3
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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