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Fishing folk of the fifties

PUBLISHED: 09:53 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:12 05 July 2010

On board during the 1950s

On board during the 1950s

PREVIOUSLY unseen pictures taken more than 55 years ago have provided a poignant recollection of Lowestoft's fishing heritage.

The rare images have been brought to light by a former worker for Explorator who still lives in Lowestoft.

PREVIOUSLY unseen pictures taken more than 55 years ago have provided a poignant recollection of Lowestoft's fishing heritage.

The rare images have been brought to light by a former worker for Explorator who still lives in Lowestoft. Lifelong resident Les Bennett stumbled across the negatives over Christmas, and for the first time in more than 50 years they have been printed for posterity.

Mr Bennett fondly recalled taking the pictures in his teens in the early 1950s as he was a keen amateur photographer.

“The negatives have lain dormant in a box at my home until I came across them recently,” said Mr Bennett, of Oulton Street.

The ones here show a busy fishing industry, happy times at a social club, a delivery van and Hamilton Dock - complete with the Henrietta Spashett boat skippered by Jumbo Fisk. “A lot of the pictures were taken on board the trawler Cape-town, which was one of a distinctive number,” Mr Bennett said.

Originally from Hull, the vessel was built in 1908 before serving on the seas. She was based at Lowestoft in 1946, prior to eventually being “broken up at Brugge in 1956,” according to research.

So the image on board the boat itself, taken in the early 1950s, shows the period just before the vessel finished service.

“I worked in the offices at Explorator from 1953 to 1955, aged around 16, and also worked on the market as fish buyers' runner, which meant I used to have to telephone people to inform them of the catches made that day,” Mr Bennett said.

Explorator became the largest fish distribution company in southern England under the mantle of Small & Co. Mr Bennett said its familiar fleet of lorries had been seen in the Old Lowestoft history books, but his photograph of a Ford Thames 600 Explorator vehicle had not been seen in public.

“These negatives have never, ever been seen before, and I am sure that these pictures will bring back a lot of memories to locals,” he said.

“When I worked for Small & Co they converted a net store at Walmer Road into a Small's Sports and Social Club, which used to be thriving.”

The picture of a scene at the bar includes the former managing director of Explorator, Stanley Stevens, office workers and employees. “The former social club is now a cul-de-sac,” said Mr Bennett.


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