Volunteer Thomas Nielson with the fishing net display.
Volunteer Thomas Nielson with the fishing net display.

Fascinating story of Hull’s trawlermen to be told in city’s communities

Proceeds from a play and book based on the life of former Arctic Corsair skipper Jim Williams will allow the trawler’s story to be taken into the city’s communities.

Hull actor Gordon Meredith and Jim’s daughter Jacky Devonshire have presented £1,000 to the Hull Maritime Foundation, a charity which supports the work of the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project.

The funds were gathered from last year’s run of Swinging the Lamp, which Gordon directed and performed, and its accompanying book. Both told the life story of Jim, who worked on the Arctic Corsair when it was at sea.

Jim started as a Mate on the ship in 1960, not long after it launched. Once the Arctic Corsair was purchased by Hull City Council and opened to visitors, he led the volunteer team giving guided tours of the ship.

The Arctic Corsair

The Arctic Corsair.

Together with Jacky and Hull Museums staff, a programme has been developed enabling volunteers to take their knowledge into the community while the ship is closed for refurbishment.

Now, with the help of the donation, the volunteers who give their time to maintain the Arctic Corsair will deliver two projects.

A memory corner will be created at Redwood Glades Extra Care Facility in partnership with The Fisherman’s Mission. A space for residents to reminisce and learn, it includes a display of a fishing net to act as a way marker for people living with dementia at the facility, helping them to navigate the building.

Former Arctic Corsair skipper Jim Williams

Former Arctic Corsair skipper Jim Williams.

The second project is an oral history project involving volunteers who worked as trawlermen or in a related industry, together with primary school pupils who will interview volunteers to learn about Hull’s fishing industry.

Lord Haskins, chair of the Hull Maritime Foundation, said: “The Swinging the Lamp play and book were both powerful and compelling, telling Jim’s story of his life on board the Arctic Corsair. This donation will make a huge difference to the local community and we are extremely grateful to Gordon Meredith, Jackie and Alan Devonshire for their generosity.”

Gordon said: “The piece of folk theatre, Swinging the Lamp, was based on my interviews with Jim as well as his auto-biography of the same name. I realised that the play would raise interest in Jim’s book and we made a significant number of sales from two reprints during the tours.

“When faced with a modest but reasonable profit, I discussed with Jacky the best way to use the proceeds and we agreed that Jim would want the Arctic Corsair volunteers to benefit.

“The timing of this as part of the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project is also very welcome and will help towards raising awareness and support for this exciting time for Hull’s maritime heritage.”

Care leavers Nathan Bray, left, and Jimmy Green in Room 42 at the Guildhall in Hull.