MIKE Winstanley, chairman of the Ewecross Historical Society, welcomed members and guest speaker Michelle Cooper to the November meeting held in Bentham Methodist Church on Monday the 25th.

Michelle, from the Morecambe Bay Partnership, gave an Oral History Presentation of Fishing Stories from Morecambe Bay, ‘Catching Tales’.

She showed slides of fishermen in oil skins and sou’westers, Clydesdale horses pulling carts, fishing boats and nets drying on poles as she played some of the hundreds of hours from the archives.

These included men racing with their horse and cart to the best fishing places for shrimp and cockles four hours after high tide.

Shrimps were caught with a 14 foot wide trawl net pulled by the horse; they were boiled at sea in seawater or on land in fresh water, firstly with a coal fire, later using a gas cylinder.

Riddles of different sizes were used to sort the shrimps, and women and girls then picked the shrimp from the shells.

Tractors replaced horses in later years.

One of the men had barley escaped with his life near Ulverston when the tide came in; he had lost his net and catch, his tractor and most of his clothes as he struggled ashore.

Fishing boats differed from the north to the south of the bay; one of the women told of how she was never afraid at sea as she always knew where she was, none of the fisher people could swim.

Her father knitted nets in the winter, and with occasional mending these lasted four or five years.

With different seasons for fishing in the bay, some of the fisher people had other work; now there are only two full time commercial fishermen in the bay when there uses to be around 30.

Apart from rivalry the fishermen were great comrades who would help each other, they had great respect for the sea and it was a wonderful world.

In January Gill Hey will speak on The Neolithic in the North West.