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Brian Tyrrell - Fishing & Forts

Issue: 7 Date: 4th Jaunuary 2021

Born in Essex in 1937 Brian when he left school in 1952 began his career as a fisherman on the 'Seahawk' out of Southend

Trawling for Skate in the winter and Sprats in the summer, he worked for 10 years with his uncle Alf Leggatt (MBE) * in Wells, Norfolk

Returning to his Whitstable family he joined Vic Davis working the 'Mullard' (F19) Brian still lives locally to the west of the town in Seasalter

* Original owners of the 'Harvester I' & 'Harvester II' which he sold to Fred Downs who tendered Radio Sutch & City on Shivering Sands Fort

Horsebridge, Stone Boat Ramp, Whitstable

The Horsebridge, Stone Ramp, Whitstable (Painting by P.W Bashford) (Undated)

Flat bottomed Barges would ground to be unloaded by horse & cart from the Horsebridge Ramp

The Neptune left, the public house on the beach, now partially protected by the sea wall

Whilst you view the feature listen to Brian's story ...


Brian Tyrrell talks about his life as a local Whitstable fisherman, the craft he's worked and owned and servicing the Offshore Pirate Radio stations on the Red Sands Fort

British Rail Whitstable Poster

Whitstable British Railways Poster (1950's)

From the 1950's Whitstable was promoted as a seaside holiday destination is now one of the UK's top places to visit and live

he Harvester II with Brian Tyrrell 1953

LO 456 'Sea Hawk Queen' & 'Harvester II' with Brian Tyrrell in the bow enters the Harbour (1953)

LO 456 'Sea Hawk Queen' & F21 'Faustilus'

LO 456 'Sea Hawk Queen' & F21 'Faustilus' (1953)

Alf Leggatt with Brian Tyrrell

Alf Leggatt with Brian Tyrrell aboard one of the 'Romulus' (Undated)

The following images a-h below from the Fisk-Moore Canterbury studio archive aquired by Bob Robinson & kindly reproduced with his permission

B&W Fisk-Moore were founded in 1913 from 1917 - 1929 they had a Shop at 93 High Street, Whitstable

In 1969 then at 10c Burgate Street, Canterbury they sold to Ron Cranfield of R.E Cranfield Photographers 43 Burgate Street, Canterbury who continued to run the business

Whitstable Harbour 1957 (a) Whitstable Harbour 1957 (b)

Whitstable Harbour (1957a)
Whitstable Harbour (1957b)

Whitstable Harbour 1957 (c) Whitstable Harbour 1957 (d)

Whitstable Harbour (1957c)
Whitstable Harbour (1957d)

Whitstable Harbour 1957 (e) Whitstable Harbour 1957 (f)

Whitstable Harbour (1957e)
Whitstable Harbour (1957f)

Whitstable Harbour 1957 (g) Whitstable Harbour 1957 (h)

Whitstable Harbour (1957g)
Whitstable Harbour (1957h)

Built by Les Wood in his boat yard behind what in 2017 is the Harbour Gallery, Brian worked the F19 the 'Mullard' with Vic Davis, they recall the aim was to make £10 a day; £3 for Vic, Brian & the boat with £1 expenses

Faustulas 1958

'Faustulus' (1958)

Romulus & Remus

'Romulus' & 'Remus' (1962)

5th August 2020 - Above photograph taken by keen photographer Leslie Collison who printed his own 10 x 8 prints from 2 1/4" image is of his wife Jean and their son Brian aged 7 at Wells-next-the-Sea Norfolk whilst on holiday at Heacham near Hunstanton - Brian Collison


Alf Leggatt aboard 'Romulus' off Whitstable (Undated)

'Romulus', 'Remus' & 'Faustulus' were all built at Anderson, Rigden & Perkins Yard, Island Wall, Whitstable

'Mullard' 1950's

Launch of the 'Mullard' F19 from Les Woood's Boat Yard (Undated)

WW II Mine 1

Navy Bomb Disposal team brin WW II Mine carefully aboard 'The Mullard' (Peter Powell) (1962)

Post WWII Mines were often snagged in fishing nets, Warden Coast Guard instructed that this one be buoy'd a minimum of 2 miles off Whitstable where it was later detonated

WW II Mine 2

With care chaps! Brian by wheelhouse, Navy Ordnance Disposal Officers (Peter Powell) (1962)

Brian remembers one occasion they pulled aboard another drum like object, thinking it was a oil drum a crew member straddled it and started beating it with a hammer, Brian said '"Shouldn't do that if I were you" the crew member said "why's that' Brian replied "because it's a mine", ashen faced he belted below!

Brian asked the Ordnance Team later if it could have exploded, their reply was "If it hadn't gone off hauling it aboard then, no". Not exactly reassuring words!

Whitstable Harbour

Whitstable Harbour (Undated)

Vic Davis & Brian Tyrrell on the Mallard 1964

Vic Davis & Brian Tyrrell on the 'Mullard' (Douglas West) (1963)

Rear of image 4

Rear of above image (1963)

When Radio Invicta began Eddie Hinkins came to Whitstable looking for a boat as they were starving on the Fort! Vic & the 'Mullard' were available so began a three year link with 1-2 trips each week supplying Red Sands Fort

All we took out in the early days was a few 5 gallon drums of diesel oil, 3 - 4 gallons of water & a box of food for the two guys on the Fort

Red Sands Fort 1964

The 'Mullard' off the Bofors Tower at Red Sands Fort (1964)

Above is an early photograph of a team of six Radio Invicta guys aboard working on the aerial, a constant problem until the 150' antenna mast was built by Radio 390 in 1965

Brian Tyrrell 1964

Brian Tyrrell (Martin Stevens) (1966)

Rear of image 6

Rear of image 6 (1966)

Radio Invicta initially ran few trips, KING Radio under David Lye were more organised and once Ted Allbeury had the helm of Radio 390, tendering became more regular & with larger loads

Brian in bow of Mullard

Brian in bow of 'Mullard' approaching Red Sands Fort Radio 390 (1966)

Brian brings home the bread 1966

Brian brings home the bread (1966)

A new Commercial for Radio 390 as 'Top Taste Bread' launch their on-air campaign, Brian stages the picture at Whistable Harbour supposedly taking fresh bread to the radio station

Sunblest Tiger Bread

Sunblest Tiger Bread

Brian has recollections of delivering 'Tiger Bread' to the Forts as Radio 390 ran another bread campaign, above image post February 1971 decimilisation, loaf cost seven & a half pence

Mallard & Crane Hoist Mallard from Crane Hoist

The 'Mullard' at Red Sands Fort *
Crane Operative view of the 'Mullard' ^

* Unusual flat calm with five 45 gallon barrels of red diesel each side of the 'Mullard', normally 450 gallons a trip

Normally supplies were taken up to Gun Tower 1, with oil drums taken to the North Searchlight Tower where the original Gardner LW 30KVA Generators were, rebuilt by Lawrence Bean

^ Brian & Vic fashioned a pallet for Radio 390 like Radio City for the 1 ton hoist (crane jib)

Barrels were hauled up singly on a strop, empties were dropped in threes, once they tried throwing the empties from the Fort but when they hit the sea they buckled and sank

More than 20 years old the Gardner LW Generators were thirsty and uneconomic with untaxed red diesel fuel at a shilling a gallon (1/-) cost wasn't a problem but fuel runs were frequent

With strong offshore winds the 'Mallard' would lay off the North Searchlight Tower even in choppy waters, making transfers of provisions & personnel

Whitstable Harbour 1965

Whitstable Harbour (1967)

When the Offshore 'Pirate' Radio boom began in 1964 the proximity to the station on the Forts Harbour Whitstable Harbour became a natural supply base

Vic Davis, Fred Downs & Brian Tyrrell

Vic Davis, Fred Downs & Brian Tyrrell talking to Radio 390 representative (1967)

Vic & Brian tendered Radio Invicta, KING then Radio 390 on the Red Sands Fort, whilst Fred Downs tendered Radio Sutch then City on Shivering Sands

Brian said tendering Radio 390 was far more lucrative than fishing making £100 a trip

Partly filmed aboard the Red Sands Fort in the Summer of 1965 the ITC produced TV programme 'Danger Man', Season 3, Episode 23 'Not So Jolly Roger' had Radio 390 portraid as Radio Jolly Roger, a covert spy ring operation centre, staring Patrick McGoohan as John Drake and Patsy Ann Noble as Susan Wade the programme was first televised on 7th April 1966

Brian recalls being paid the princely sum of £10.00 as his hand appeared in shot

Not So Jolly Roger : Episode Details : Music

In late 1966 Lawrence Bean (Senior Mechanical Engineer) and John (Ray) Glendinning (Transmitter and Studio Engineer) proposed pre-recording programmes, these 'shore shows' cut the number of personnel needed aboard the Towers

Two or Three Continuity Announcer/Presenters remained aboard filling in with some 'live' programmes

Hense the number of studio Radio 390 programme tapes still around

Strange but true Government Hydrographers chartered the 'Mullard' to survey the Middle Sand which rarely dried but was used to bring the Red Sands within territorial limits

Once Radio 390 closed for the final time on 28th July 1967, Anderson, Rigden & Perkins (1917 - 1982) Whitstable's largest yard built the 40' 'Kordella', the 'Tykella', & finally 'Ticino' (The Ugly) for Vic Davis

Fisherman Net handling Whitstable Harbour

Dave Shilling, Ian Cartwright & Brian Tyrrell at Whitstable Harbour (1977)

Ian Cartwright studied physics whilst a fisherman, he moved to Tasmania with a technical qualification, where he advises on fish quotas and catches

Old anchor 1977

Old Anchor anyone? (1977)

Tim Ward, Ian ?, Don Rigden and Brian 1977 (Don Rigden is my wife's brothers father - Ed)

This large hefty Admiralty (Naval) pattern ships anchor was brought up whilst pair trawling i.e two boats hauling a net between them

To this day Ship & Barge anchors are dragged up, a number can be seen as ornaments in the towns gardens

Harbour Crane manouvering the anchor

Harbour Crane manoeuvring the anchor, Brian and Phil Edwards (1977)

outside the Royal Native Oyster Stores

... outside the Royal Native Oyster Stores (1977)

Pearsons Crab & Oyster House

Pearson's Crab and Oyster House (1977)

One of the oldest pubs in Whitstable on the seawall The Pearsons Arms dates from 1830

Charles Pearson a London business man had bought several Copperas works, in decline he demolished the works using the bricks and land to build Tankerton Tower his Manor House in 1790, now Whitstable Castle

The dawning of the Railway age he invested in the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway (Crab and Winkle Line) building the end of the line station by the Horsebridge

Other investors wanted the railway to terminate at the Harbour, so Charles turned his station into a hotel the 'Pearson's Arms Inn' (Horsebridge Road, Whitstable, CT5 1BT)

South Quay, Whitstable Harbour

South Quay, Whitstable Harbour (1977)

Rear of images 14-18

Rear of images 14-18 (1977)

Parrett and Neves owned the Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News at 30 High Street, Chatham from 1859

1890 business record

The first known business record from 30 High Street, date 1890 download full image

It became the 1st studio building for BBC Radio Medway later BBC Radio Kent

Ross Fisheries had owned the business on the South Quay

From a long line of Thames Estuary fisherman, Ray Gilson had worked cockle boats in Southend with his sons John & Patrick acquired the business trading as 'Cardium Shellfish' they closed on Wednesday 11th November 2011

A Spanish Company bought them out and continued using the two Ray Gilson designed Cockle Dredgers 'Ol'Ray' and 'Cardium'

Ray's brother Peter had been coxswain of the Southend Lifeboat and sadly lost his life whilst working his own fishing boat

F21 1

F21 'Faustulus' on the hard west of the Harbour September (1981)

Brian was to buy his own fishing boat F21 'Faustulus' in the early 1980's

F21 2

F21 'Faustulus' (1982)

F21 3

F21 'Faustulus' trawling for sprats in (1982)

F21 'Faustulus' & 'Loandric' (1982) *

* 'Loandric' an anagram of owner John Martins children's names: Louise, Andrew & Richard (Dick)

F21 4

F21 'Faustulus' with distant Red Sands Fort (1982)

Whistable Harbour at night

Whistable Harbour at night, fitting radar to 'Tykella' (April 1983)

Our Sarah Jane trawling off Shivering Sands Fort

'Our Sarah Jane' trawling off Shivering Sands Fort (Undated)

Above possibly by Phil Edwards, a competent photographer Phil left the family fishing heritage for a couple of years to study photography at college

Painting of Sand Pipper off Shivering Sands

Superb painting by Mike Judge of F93 'Sand Pipper' trawling off Shivering Sands (Mike Judge) (1994)

Black Deep Dredging the Harbour (Doreen) (2008)

Bryan Tyrrell Portrait

Bryan Tyrrell Portrait (Phil Edwards) (2011)

Thanks to Brian Tyrrell for sharing his photographs & memories

Thanks also for the assistance of P.W Bashford, Doreen, Phil Edwards, Paul Jarvis, Richard & Mike Judge, Penny Knowler, Dave Phillips, Peter Powell, Bob Robinson, Martin Stevens, Charles Trill, Douglas West

We'd be pleased to hear from you if you can add to Brian's feature

There's more pictures of Brian in Glendinnings - Part 2

See our other Whitstable Harbour pages and the Red Sands Fort radio history by navigating from the ScrapBook Index

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