DOWN MEMORY LANE Going fishing – by hand – in the harbour

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Derek Wren grew up at Prinsted and spent many happy days on the harbour.

Here is an extract from his story:

“I remember there were two brothers in Southbourne who caught flat fish, feeling for them by hand.

“They wore waders up to their thighs but always went on into deeper water until the water poured in. I think they both went into the navy. One of them was killed but I never came across the other one again.

“Sometimes conger eels were caught at Prinsted but not, I am sure, by hand.

“My father was given a wooden boat (above) which had had the bows smashed in when it was dragged over the shingle bank which encloses the creek at Prinsted. I helped him repair it, steaming the planks to replace the bows.

“We named it Mayfloat. It could never be rowed in a straight line but we had many days of pleasure rowing it out into deeper water at high tide.

“Anyone on the shore who knew us would swim out, climb on board and dive off.

“I don’t remember seeing any sea-going yachts, only dinghies and boats fitted out for fishing, sometimes driven by converted car engines.

“The Sea Scouts had been given a large vessel which they kept anchored in the middle of the creek.

“One test the Scouts had to take was to jump off this, fully clothed, and swim a given distance. My father acted as an independent judge to watch them swim.”

Were you one if the Sea Scouts who dived off the boat? Or do you remember the fishermen at Southbourne and know what happened to them?

John Ascoli remembers the Big Freeze over the winter of 1962-1963.

He says: “Snow and freezing conditions began on Boxing Day and lasted over a large area until March 4. “In places the snow lay 2ft deep – with massive drifts, driven by an Arctic wind, sometimes it was as high as 20ft to 30ft or so in the worst-hit places.

“Temperatures failed to rise above three degrees and the chill factor was acute – even the sea froze in harbours and estuaries. Chichester was one such place.

“The picture shows the three-masted schooner Kathleen and May ice-bound in the harbour. She was locked there for many weeks.

“The ice was so thick the whole of our end of the harbour was solid, making it possible to walk across to the Bosham side.

“One mother was seen frequently pushing her baby in its pram to and fro.

“With his dinghy useless, a yachtsman used skis and snow boots to cross back and forth to his ice-bound vessel mid-stream.

“The council resorted to sending tankers to the harbour to extract saltwater for the roads. Firemen’s hoses were known to freeze solid.

“For many, life was hard. For others the Big Freeze provided endless pleasure.

“A group of young men raced their cars on the upper pond of Birdham Pool only to find, when eventually colliding, the insurance companies, not unsurprisingly, refused to pay out!”

What are your memories of the Big Freeze and how it affected your family at the time? Get in touch and let us know. Addresses are at the top of the page.