Where the Cod Run Deep
Deep Sea fishing has been described as the most dangerous occupation known to man, and with good reason too, for more lives have been lost in the pursuit of Britain’s staple diet, namely the Codfish, than in any other industry, and that includes coal mining.
The fishing ports of Grimsby and Fleetwood, along with the port of Hull, to this very day, still bear testament to the passing of a proud and glorious era. These ports were home to those cumbersome, though legendary leviathans, the Icelandic deep sea trawlers, those iron clad ships that set out to trawl the northern most seas, carrying their crews to the distant waters of Iceland, many of whom sadly were never to return.
Unforgiving Iceland, whose cold cruel hand could smite without warning through it’s legendary black icy fogs, and mountainous seas, was without doubt, one of the most inhospitable places on earth, and these trawler men, in their iron ships, were probably the only things on earth ever to have gained its hard won respect.
Alas these iron leviathans and the men who sailed in them, are now gone, consigned to history, two Cod wars, and a subsequent collapse in fish stocks have seen to that. But the tales of heroism, of record catches, and of the men who took these iron ships into the very jaws of hell itself, in order to bring home the Cod, are still legendary in fishing ports throughout the land.
Wherever and whenever an ever-decreasing band of old comrades gather together over a pint of ale or a drop of rum, the stories will be recalled once again. Exploits of both them, and their comrades, all heroes of the sea, and all rightly remembered, will remain alive, for they must never be allowed to die.
The deep sea trawlers that fished the inhospitable seas off Iceland, are a thing of the past now, they and their gallant skippers and crews have all sailed on into history, leaving behind a world that can only marvel at the legendary feats of skill and bravery, performed by these iron men in their iron ships. Numerous books still recall these trawlermen and their exploits, and many people, as yet unaware of their glorious past, will, through the many marine museums and dockside visitor attractions, subsequently learn of the proud heritage they left us.
Their story will live on, it will not die, it must not die. For as long as the eternal deep blue sea continues to offer up its bounty, and men still go down to the sea in ships, their memories will endure.
Their story will be told wherever there is a tavern beside a harbour, it will be told wherever and whenever fishing boats land their catches, be it early morning just as the dawn begins to whiten, or late at night when the world is fast asleep. It will be told through the years, by the years, for the years are witness to their passing.
Be a watery haven their final sweet repose, or peaceful grave somewhere ashore, these men must never be forgotten, for in them, was forged the true and endearing spirit that defined a country. They were its backbone, its sweat, and its blood.
And when in years to come men ask… ‘Who were these men in their iron clad ships?’ The years will echo back their answer. ‘These were no ordinary men, in ordinary ships… these were mighty men, in mighty ships, who through their labours, kept not just the spirit of an industry alive, but the spirit of a country as well.’