JACK Manning has called his remarkable autobiography It Was Better Than Working, but not because fishing was an easy way of making a living.

Rather, it was because Morecambe Bay’s rich harvest enabled him, as a self-employed person, to turn his time and his hand to anything in the fishing line that took his fancy.

In producing this book, he has followed the same principle by involving himself at all stages of writing and publishing.

Mr Manning, who was born in 1932, has a knowledge of the bay that is second-to-none and his captivating story details how it has been exploited by fishermen for more than a century – sometimes with tragic consequences.

Although the Chinese cocklers tragedy of 2004 cost the greatest loss of life in one incident, Mr Manning recalls other accidents, tragedies and near misses that illustrate how unpredictable and treacherous the sands and tides of Morecambe Bay can be.

One of his earliest recollections, as a schoolboy in January 70 years ago, was the grounding during a blizzard of the trawler Impregnable. The vessel was discovered by Mr Manning’s father Harold and fellow fisherman Tom Wilson after a foghorn was sounded continually for hours.

“There had been some problem with their navigation system...They were completely lost and off course and had not seen any land since running aground,” writes Mr Manning.

“Over the next few days the fish from the hold, said to be worth £400, was carted to Flookburgh by horse and cart and the crew of 12 stayed with families in the village for a month.”

Over the decades Mr Manning became a well-known figure beyond Morecambe Bay, helping to guide people across the sands and advising film and documentary crews who wished to shoot footage there.

He was featured in several documentaries and, as a member of Flookburgh Band, appeared in the 1987 film Without A Clue, starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

He was also a guest on Harry Secombe’s Sunday evening programme Highway and helped Matthew Kelly make a children’s programme.

Mr Manning says he began writing his memoirs in the 1980s, intending it only to be read by younger members of his family, adding: “For many years I have regretted not taking more notice of what my grandfather told me about his life and work.

“For this reason I decided to write down some of my life story so my descendants may know of it if they so wish.”

It Was Better Than Working is being sold in Furness village shops and post offices at £12. Visit www.jackmanning.co.uk for more details.