Q: What are salliers? A: The waves of a passing ship, tug or boat etc.,
When we were kids and made rafts down at the fish quay or up the wood yards it was great fun. With the river being so busy with ships always running in and out you had salliers galore. Now when we were on the rafts and the bigger ones hit it was like being on a roller coaster. Keeping your balance was sometimes an art in its own right. You would always have wet feet, for the salliers would crash over the raft splashing you all over.
Now and again you ended up in the water with everybody trying to stay upright; there was plenty of pushing and shoving. Most of the time we just stayed inside the little basin at the west end of Smith’s No 8 dry dock, so the water was never over deep. Just as well because most of us could not swim anyway.
Now and again we would be mucking around and someone would shout ‘copper’. That was it. Off the raft, into the water, and off like a bullet soaking wet but laughing as we got away without getting another lecture off the River Police.