Saturday, 25 April 2009

Small Boys in Weymouth 1949

And what do small boys do in Weymouth in about 1949. Well we roamed around the harbour and went fishing on either the new pier or the old pier. I remember that just off to one side of the old pier there was a place where it was almost allways possible to catch small bream, and these were taken home where my mother filleted and fried them. Really good they were too. Otherwise the fish were often rass or what we called rock salmon, which we just threw back in the sea.

But best of all was going with my father in his boat to empty the lobster and crab pots or fish for conger eels by Portland Harbour wall. We would anchor just off the wall and try to catch these rather clever fish. They were tricky because they would take your bait and then back into the wall and hang on with their long bodies. To stop this happening it was necessary to strike and pull hard as soon as they took the hook and get them away from the wall before they could get a grip of it. My Dad was pretty good at it and the sight of a one to two meter long fish coming into the boat and then thrashing about all over the place was pretty exciting.

When we got home with our catch my Mother would prepare the lobsters and crabs for the fishmonger, and the whole catch would go to the shop. Fish from a local fish shop in Weymouth at that time was usually locally caught and very fresh. I wonder how it is today.

Another favorite playground was Radipole lake park. There was a long stainless steel slide that we used to polish with candle wax and the seat of out trousers to make it faster. Perhaps it is still there. But just a little way from the slide was a pool on which we could sail our toy boats, and there were all sorts there. Great sailing boats, model steam ships and paper boats that Dads would make. All together a very special place.

And of course there was the railway. Boy do things that are in hindsite certainly naughty and perhaps a little dangerouse. There was and perhaps still is a footbridge over the railway on the way to the park. And when the steam trains (and they were all steam trains then) passed under it the train would puff out clouds of steam and smoke. Us boys would take small stones and try to drop them into the train's funnel as it got close to the bridge. If we were successful they would be shot out under the bridge and clatter against it making a good old bang. There were also some shunting lines behind the park and if we had a halfpenny we would put it on the track where the shunted trucks were going to pass. As the trucks ran over the coin it would make a mark and move down the line. So after several trucks had run over it (and it was safe to take a look) there were several imprints of the coin on the metal railway line. I am sure they are all worn away by now and the line is inacessible too I expect. Perhaps I will take a look when next I am in Weymouth.


  1. Cheeky little boy that I imagine you were, that poor conger eel. Sounds like you had lots of fun though!

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