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Grimsby Fisher Lads – Moonrakers

Jon Bennett of Moonrakers talks us through their recording of 'Grimsby Fisher Lads', as featured as the soundtrack to the new BBC drama, Beyond Paradise.

In the late 19th century, the fishing industry along the east coast of England was booming. With it, however, came the demise of traditional family-based businesses, replaced by large companies that kept their overheads low by employing cheap labour. One such source was to be found in the workhouses where abandoned and orphaned children were looking for an escape from their misery. It was common practice to take boys as young as 10 from these workhouses as indentured labour on the fishing boats. They were paid very low wages and assigned menial tasks. Worse still, they were hated by the skilled fishermen because they kept wages low. 

Jon Bennett’s song reflects some research done in old newspaper cuttings from Grimsby. The most important resource was a book written by Marc Jones, a local Grimsby councillor, whose book The Grimsby Fisher Lads outlines the history of the Humber ports. For more than a century – in fact, up to WWI – young boys went to sea in the traditional sailing boats that braved the North Sea to bring back the fish that kept Grimsby prosperous. It was a brutal life. 

The song is arranged by Jon’s band, Moonrakers. It has been selected for use in the new BBC drama series, Beyond Paradise, and is the first track of the new Moonrakers album, Green to Gold

The opening verse sets the scene: 

When you live with the weather every trip has its tale. 
The Grimsby boys shudder as the wind hits the sail,
And the swell of the ocean closes down on the deck,
And we hope we are blessed

For more information about Moonrakers, visit moonrakers.net. Their new album, Green to Gold, is available in hard copy from MoonrakersCelticMusic@gmail.com and as a download from their Bandcamp page.