If the dock yard lads were running late they would give two whistles and the little Brigham & Cowan's launch would come over and take them back to the south side.
When we used to go fishing beside North Shields ferry landing, this dock yard was straight across the river at South Shields. Now often if the dock yard lads were running late they would give two whistles and the little Brigham & Cowan’s launch – called ‘the Nymph’, I believe – would come over and take the lads who were late back over.
Now I do not know how to this day the launch skipper knew who was who, for often we would whistle and nothing. Once or twice he would let go but instead of coming over, as we thought, off up the Tyne he went. We did live in hope that one day he would answer our calls but no chance. Often we thought he was having a good laugh at our expense. Now as the saying goes you get older you get wiser and, as a bloke pointed out, the skipper would have had a pair of binoculars on board and recognised the lads straight away. As for us, he probably just wanted to shoot us for whistling over all the time.
Sadly today – 2009 – both boat and yard along with the workers has long gone.