Historian to deliver lecture at local historic pub

Author and historian Brian W Lavery will be delivering lectures at an historic North Shields pub to mark the 50th anniversary of the loss of the trawler Gaul.
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Tomorrow (Thursday March 21) Dr Lavery will give the two talks at the Low Lights Tavern - one in the afternoon and the second in the evening.

Six crewmen from Shields were lost when the Hull-registered trawler Gaul vanished in atrocious weather in the North Atlantic in 1974.

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Thirty men perished and for decades the ship's disappearance was at the centre of allegations that she had been involved in espionage at the height of the Cold War.

Collage of news cuttingsCollage of news cuttings
Collage of news cuttings

Dr Lavery who has written two books about trawler disasters was invited to the historic tavern by the North Shields Fishermen's Heritage Project. (NSFHP)

NSFHP spokesman Mr Terry McDermott said: "There are still a handful of tickets available for the afternoon talk - but the evening event has sold out.

"The story of the Gaul has great significance here in North Shields and in the port of Hull where the crew came from.

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"They originally sailed from here as the Rnager Castor before being sold to Hull and undergoing a name change."

Book coverBook cover
Book cover

The Gaul was a state-of-the-art supertrawler of its time - yet she disappeared without trace with not even an SOS despite of having an automatic distress signal system.

A lifebelt from the vessel was found months later.

For decades after her disappearance the Gaul was rarely mentioned without her name being proceeded by the word "spyship".

Dr Lavery a former national newspaper journalist will be exploring the range of stories that the trawler's disappearance in February 1974 sparked across half a century.

Lecture title coverLecture title cover
Lecture title cover
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There are still questions about her perishing that remain unanswered.

Brian W Lavery is the author of The Headscarf Revolutionaries and The Luckiest Thirteen (Barbican Press)

The Headscarf Revolutionaries tells of the fishwives' uprising led by fighting fishwife Lillian Bilocca after the 1968 Triple Trawler Disaster in which three Hull vessels sank in as many weeks.

The campaign for better safety at sea led by Mrs Bilocca, led to massive health and safety changes after she and her "headscarf army" stormed trawler bosses offices and took their fight to Westminster and won.

Author Brian W laveryAuthor Brian W lavery
Author Brian W lavery
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The Luckiest Thirteen tells of the 1966 Christmas Day disaster on the Grand Banks when a fireball explosion killed 10 men instantly from a crew of 25 of the Hull trawler St Finbarr . Two more men died in the two-day rescue bid when the blazing ship was towed for miles before sinking within sight of land.

A few tickets are still available for the event from Mr McDermott on: 07810 546162.

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