The Coble

Duration: 1:46 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.416
This story has been viewed 18483 times

Gordon's story is about the traditional North Sea fishing boat- the coble.

By Gordon Burrows


Other information

This story was inspired by a coble from the collections at the Museum of Hartlepool.

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Video transcript

My name is Gordon Burrows. The boat you can see is known as a coble. These were the traditional North Sea fishing boat, used from Berwick to the Humber Estuary. I fished from one of these out of Sunderland. Although there were all sizes of cobles, the most usual was about thirty feet, or in decimal money, eight and a half metres.

Ours was smaller, only about twenty feet long. Originally, these boats were rowed and sailed so the bow, that's the front of the boat, was deep and slim and the rudder at the stern was very long because there was no proper keel. Towards the stern the coble was broad and flat, since these boats were beached stern first.

Later, engines were fitted, which was a relief for amateur fishermen like me because sailing the boats was now not such hard work. Unfortunately, the propeller meant the boats could no longer be kept on the beach.

Of course coble fishing, like all old things became redundant as larger and larger vessels were used. Me, I don't even go fishing any more. Now most of these big boats have retired. This trawler has not moved for many years. There may still be fish in the North Sea but where, the gods only know. At least these steel trawlers can be recycled into something useful.  

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