Fish Tales Man: Whats in a name?

13 Apr 2016

An Introduction to Alfred Bannister – Local Hero

“A bannister” “A. Bannister”

Notice the subtle difference between the two above? Correct! The first “bannister” has a lower case ‘b’, whilst the other has the upper case ‘B’.

A bannister – the railing and supporting balusters on a staircase

A. Bannister – renowned trawler owner and businessman on Grimsby Docks.

Alfred Bannister, known to close associates as “Alf” was born in Cleethorpes in 1868, into a working class family, and he attended a local church school. I would hazard a guess that this would have been the school attached (not physically) to St. Peter’s Church, a school which still exists to this very day. Now why have I brought up the subject of Mr B? Well, Louise Coulbeck of JCS Fish, has family links with the Bannisters. And this JCS Fish blog is trying to establish links between the present and the past in order to keep the Grimsby Docks I the forefront of people’s minds.

If you wish to find out the minutae of Alf’s life, then there is plenty to be found in the archives of Grimsby Library or on “t’internet”. I quite like to keep these blogs fairly light – and show you how the docks can impact on the lives of everybody in this great area of ours. For instance, I have a link to Mr B too. Moi? A mere fish tales man? Oui! (Must have learned that French from Francis Dolan’s visiting balloonists!) I have actually dined in the Bannister household on many occasions. “Go on!”… “Yes, it’s true.”

As Alf made his fortune, he had a fine house built in St Peter’s Avenue which was christened “Saxon House”. In the late 1990’s, this lovely building was converted into a hotel, called the “Saxon House Hotel”. The proprietors were Mr and Mrs Harry Wainman, Harry being the former Grimsby Town goalkeeper, and I’ve had many a lovely meal there with my wife! 

And the historical links continue. As a young lady, Louise’s Mum, Roberta Dolan (nee *****), attended Saxon House, which then housed an organisation called Odhams which taught office skills – typing and shorthand – to demure, young ladies of the town. Saxon House then became the home of the Jane Dawson School of Dancing and I was privileged to teach her daughter, Sarah, at Signhills School!

And now, here I am contributing to these “blogs” (which I write in pencil) about Alfred Bannister and his local links. I would like to thank Louise and Andrew Coulbeck for inviting me to write these because, even as I approach a major age milestone, I’m still learning something new every day. 

And, therefore, thanks to JCS Fish, I hope the reader is also learning something new.

Next time, a more in depth look at some of Alf Bannister’s achievements.

Bye for now,

Fish Tales Man