The true cost of fish

12th August 2007, 10:43
The following letter (reproduced with the author's consent) was sent to me recently. I'm posting it because it illustrates more powerfully than I ever could, that the true cost of fish should never be calculated just by the amount of coin that you pass over the fishmonger's counter.

It was sent to me by the daughter of one of the men who vanished, along with the Red Falcon (The full story is on The Bosun's Watch) and 20 other crew, somewhere off Skerryvore on 14th December 1959. To the monetary cost of your piece of cod must be added the human cost, lives lost and the misery of other lives ruined. How can you calculate that?

I am the daughter of Jim Read who, sadly, I never got to know as I was born on 6th May 1959 and my father was lost with the Red Falcon on 14th December 1959.

I often think about my dad and what my life would have been like had he lived, as my mother met and married an evil man who then became my stepfather.
He was a very jealous man and with me being a reminder that my mother had been married to another man I used to get beaten for nothing, just for being alive.
The times I used to go to bed and pray to God that my dad wasnít really dead and that he would soon come back and rescue me.

My life was hell it was that bad. I used to wish I was dead and I had my first daughter when I was 19 years old. That relationship didnít work, however, and I ended up getting married to my first husband, which meant my daughter, also would have a stepfather.

While I was pregnant with my second, child a son, my husband was beginning to lose his temper a lot with my daughter, so not wanting her to have the same life that I had, I ended that marriage when I was 5 months pregnant and got on with my life.

I found out through a relative that when my father died there was a trust fund for the families so I enquired about it and was told that I had been left £500, which was for me when I turned 21.

I wrote of for this and received a cheque for £17. My mother had been writing to the fund for money for holidays and clothes for school. However, the only holidays I used to have were at my late fathers parents, my nanny and granddad Read, and they used to pay for them as they did for school clothes. My stepfather never did an honest days work and we used to get a government school grant for clothes.

In 1982 I met the kindest man we married in 1985. He has taken my 2 children on plus we have 2 more together we are now proud grandparents to 7 and another 1 due in jan2008 so, apart from having to work all hours to have a decent life, I have found happiness.
I often think if losing my father hadnít happened, how my life would have been so different.
I would have been brought up by my real father and would have probably been a right daddyís girl.
Donít get me wrong my nanny and granddad Read loved me to bits but my stepfather didnít allow us much contact with them. I still see my auntie Betty who still lives in Fleetwood.

As we live in Withernsea near Hull my dream is to take my husband and four grown up children along with my soon to be 8 grandchildren on a big family holiday. So if it means working all hours to try and fulfil my dream then Iíll carry on, as all my kids are treated the same by my husband.
I think what Iím trying to say is that although its nearly 48yrs since the loss of the Red Falcon peoples lives can still be affected.
Iíve missed out on not having my dad and I donít have anywhere to go and place flowers or to go and sit and just think my dadís there, as I donít know where he is apart from somewhere in the sea.
Anyway thank you for letting me get all this off my chest and if anyone could tell me more about my dad I would be so grateful lots of love from Janice Read (that was)

PollY Anna
12th August 2007, 12:14
The sea is a hard task master it's just not fish that cost. All goods that are transported by sea. One has only to read the pages on this site to see that the cost is ongoing each month there is a disaster somewhere in the World.

One man here two there a ship sinks it never stops BUT very little is brought to the attention of the wider public they are more interested who is going out with who. It is the sign of the times.

Regards Ron

12th August 2007, 17:15
The real price of fish.

There is a famous remark by an icelandic fisherman early in the 20th century, that roughly translates; " I have quit the seamans job, and gone trawling". Such was the difference going from open oared boats, or sailing smacks to steam trawlers. I do not recall the exact figures, but an icelandic clergyman, writing in the 1880s calculated that the death rate among coastal fishermen, in open boats, was higher than soldiers at war. (In the 19th century). The main reasons were a)absence of harbours, and b) the main fishing season being in late winter/early spring.
When Britain shifted to steam, sailing smacks were bought on the cheap, and there was the hope that they would be safer. On the contrary, they were death traps. The fishing methods was handlining. Instead of a crew of six or seven, as when trawling in the north sea, 80 ton vessel would have a crew of 20-25, and would start fishing in late january. The losses were huge. Thus when the steam-trawlers began to arrive in 1907, the difference was so huge that it prompted the remark above. Until 1925, (the great storm known as Halavedrid), it was the general believe among icelandic fishermen that a steam trawler could not sink in open waters.

Birgir Thorisson

22nd February 2008, 22:47
Sadly, I remember the loss of the Red Falcon. I was a kid at the time, but one of the crew lived in the same street as me (Gordon Road). We were told not to mention anything to his son (Terry Gloss).

This was the first time I had known anything like this. The whole street just went very quiet. No playing out in the street and certainly no talking as we passed the house.

It was very eerie.

There is now a Memorial on Fleetwood seafront that pays tribute to all the Fleetwood trawlers lost at sea. Perhaps floral tributes could be placed there (, as the men have no known grave, as is the fate of so many seafarers.

22nd February 2008, 23:52
I was a pupil at a well known junior school in Fleetwood at the time, and as an 8 year old can still remember a teacher coming into the class, pointed at a young classmate, and said( I shall never forget the calousness of the man or what he said) ******, get yourself home, your dad's ship has sunk!
that was December 15th 1959?
Sadly that was the price of the fishermens lives in Fleetwood at that time!!

23rd February 2008, 06:28
In memory of Mr Read and his 18 crewmates, I post the report from the Times on the loss of Red Falcon:

Dec 17, 1959
Trawler With Crew Of 19 Missing Aircraft Answers "Distress Flares"

Hope for 19 men on board a missing Fleetwood trawler, Red Falcon, 449 tons, faded last night after an RAF Shackleton made an unsuccessful search off the Scottish coast where a coastguard reported seeing white flares.
The aircraft searched for an hour in what a spokesman described as "shocking" weather, but found no sign of flares or wreckage. The search will be resumed by another Shackleton at first light today.
A British Trawlers' Federation official said that two other Fleetwood trawlers, approaching the area where Red Falcon was last reported, had been asked by radio to begin an immediate search for survivors.
Earlier yesterday, after two days of radio silence, Captain E D W Lowford, managing director of the owners of Red Falcon, the Iago Steam Trawling Co Ltd, said: "We fear the worst."

The last contact with the ship was at 7am on Monday. She was then steaming for home from Iceland - her crew looking forward to Christmas with their families.
Relatives went down to the docks to meet the crew on Monday night. They returned again on Tuesday and again she did not arrive. It was presumed she had been delayed by the weather.
The ship's last position was off Skerryvore at the south of the Minsk. Her owners presume she was lost near the Island of Islay, known for its treacherous tides and rocks.
Police on the Island of Tiree reported finding wreckage that looked like hatches washed ashore in the south west of the island, an Air Ministry spokesman at Edinburgh last night.

Dec 18, 1959
"No hope" for crew of lost trawler

Families of the crew of 19 of the 449-ton Fleetwood trawler Red Falcon were told by the owners last night that there could be no hope for any survivors. The trawler is thought to have been lost off the Isle of Islay, West Scotland, on Monday.
Two lifejackets with the name Red Falcon and wreckage including a lifeboat seat and a box of flares were washed ashore on the islands of Baugh and Tiree yesterday.