Fish Tales Man: The Tour de Grimsby (P1)

6 May 2016

Part one of this tale...

Summer’s coming! Time then to pull up the armchair, locate the remote and settle down to watch the Tour de France! Hundreds of super fit men, decked out in their vibrant team colours, slogging round the highways and byways of France, with the faint hope of wearing the famous yellow jersey on the final day in Paris. The sight of all those cyclists in one seemingly endless stream of action, brought to us courtesy of Eurosport.

But, not that many years ago, you might have witnessed similar scenes in our own home town. “Give over”, do I hear you say? “Oh yes”, I maintain. Take yourself back to the 1950’s, and earlier, to a time when owning a motor car was just a pipe dream for most working folk. The local bus companies did their best in transporting people to work – but the vast majority of people travelled there in the only way they knew – on the old “sit up and beg” – better known as a ‘bike’.

Standing at Riby Square on any work day at finishing time one could witness hundreds of dock workers lined up at the traffic lights, waiting for the starting pistol – or rather the green light. Watch the bland dark overcoated, overalled, flat capped peleton stream off from the “Square”. Dozens of them turning left into Cleethorpe Road, towards the town of that name, others turning right towards Lock Hill and the West Marsh – and dozens of them streaming off down good old Freemo.

Another day over, another day of hard graft in the trying conditions of the Docks. Blokes whose arms had spent the day up to the elbows in freezing tubs of water. Blokes with cuts from the razor sharp filleting knives. Lads with muscles aching from pushing those ruddy great barrows from here to there, to who knows where. Blokes with the stench of fish guts in their nostrils. Women from the net-making and processing factories, from the smoke houses and those “luxurious” offices on the pontoon.

A “mixed peleton” then, dashing off home to their families. But not all of them …. I wonder how many of them propped their bikes outside the old Dogger Bank pub, and the countless other “boozers” down good old Freemo, swapping yarns, playing darts and dominoes, or reading the Telegraph.

Fish Tales Man