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Brian Tyrrell - Fishing & Forts

Issue: 3 Date: 16th April 2018

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 & Sprats in the summer, he worked for 10 years with his uncle Alf Leggett (MBE) * in Wells, Norfolk

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

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

Horsebridge, Stone Boat Ramp, Whitstable

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

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

2. Whitstable 1950's (British Railways Poster)

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

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

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

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

The following images 2 - 9 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)

5. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (a)
6. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (b)

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

7. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (c)
8. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (d)

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

9. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (e)
10. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (f)

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

11. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (g)
12. Whitstable Harbour 1957 (h)

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

WW II Mine 1

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

Post WW II Mines were often snagged in fisherman's nets Warden Point Coast Guard instructed this one be tied to a Buoy a minimum of 2 miles offshore of Whitstable, where it was detonated

WW II Mine 2

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

Brian remembers one occasion they pulled aboard another drum like object, thinking it was a oil drum a crew member straddled it & 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!

Vic Davis & Brian Tyrrell on the Mallard 1964

15. Vic Davis & Brian Tyrrell on the 'Mallard' 1963 (Douglas West)

Rear of image 4

16. Rear of image 4

When Radio Invicta began Eddie Hinkins came to Whitstable looking for a boat as they were starving on the Fort! Vic & the Mallard 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

17. The 'Mallard' 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

18. Brian Tyrrell 1966 (Martin Stevens)

Rear of image 6

19. Rear of image 6

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

Brian brings home the bread 1966

20. 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

21. 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

22. The 'Mallard' at Red Sands Fort *
23. Crane Operative view of the 'Mallard' ^

* Unusual flat calm with five 45 gallon barrels of red diesel each side of the 'Mallard', 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 & sank

More than 20 years old the Gardner LW Generators were thirsty & 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

24. 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

25. 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 remembers that throughout 1965 & early 1966, tendering Radio 390 was far more lucrative than fishing making £100 a trip

In late 1966 Lawrence Bean (Senior Mechanical Engineer) & John (Ray) Glendinning (Transmitter & 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 'Mallard' 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

26. 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 & catches

Old anchor 1977

27. Old Anchor anyone?

Tim Ward, Ian ?, Don Rigden & 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

28. Harbour Crane manoeuvring the anchor, Brian & Phil Edwards 1977

outside the Royal Native Oyster Stores

29. ... outside the Royal Native Oyster Stores 1977

Pearsons Crab & Oyster House

30. Pearson's Crab & 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 & Whitstable Railway (Crab & 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

31. South Quay, Whitstable Harbour 1977

Rear of images 14-18

32. Rear of images 14-18 (1977)

Parrett & Neves owned the Chatham, Rochester & Gillingham News at 30 High Street, Chatham from 1859. See 1st known business record from 30 High Street, date 1890

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 & continued using the two Ray Gilson designed Cockle Dredgers 'Ol'Ray' & 'Cardium'

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

F21 1

33. 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

34. F21 'Faustulus' 1982

F21 3

35. F21 'Faustulus' trawling for sprats in 1982

36. F21 'Faustulus' & 'Loandric' 1982 *

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

F21 4

37. F21 'Faustulus' with distant Red Sands Fort 1982

Whistable Harbour at night

38. Whistable Harbour at night, fitting radar to 'Tykella' April 1983

Our Sarah Jane trawling off Shivering Sands Fort

39. '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

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

41. Black Deep Dredging the Harbour in 2008 (Doreen)

Bryan Tyrrell Portrait

42. Bryan Tyrrell Portrait 2011 (Phil Edwards)

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, 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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