FISHERMEN – The Great Ocean Coble Race Redcar and Staithes

Accreditation the Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 10/10/1873


            This match was arranged on the 24th of the last month, between William Thompson, of Whitby, the backer of the Staithes fishermen, and William Picknett and John Wynn, of Redcar the supporters of the Redcar fishermen. The stakes be £100 a side. The distance to be roared is about 6 miles, from Coatham Pier end (outside all rocks close, to Saltburn Pier. The whole of the money has already been deposited in the hands of the stakeholder.


            Two cobles to be picked off Redcar Sands, and to be tossed for by each party. Each coble to be as near as possible, of equal dimensions, and to be tossed for within seven days of the race. The winner of the toss to have first choice of the boat. Each crew to find their own proper Coble fishing oars. The race to be a straight run from Coatham Pier, from a flag bought anchored off Coatham pier, clear of all rocks, and the race to be finished at Saltburn Pier, at a bought anchored off Saltburn Pier, the running boards to pull in between the board and the pier.

Four men in each boat – three pairs of oars – one man forward to pull one power of oars, two in midships to pull one or each, and one man at to pull a pair of oars. Each crew to carry in their boat what they think proper.

£50 on either side to be deposited in the hands of the Editor of the Newcastle Chronicle, to tie the match, and either party not fulfilling the agreement to forfeit the money deposited. The remainder of the money to be paid over to the said Editor three days before the race. Each party to appoint their own umpire, and the appointment of referee to be left in the hands of the said Editor.

N.B. Should the weather be unfavourable, so that the board’s would be unsafe at sea, the parties concerned shall arrange as to the time when the race shall take place

William Thompson.
William A. Picknett.
John Wynn.

Thos. Atkinson Boyd
Isaac Weighill.

Accreditation the Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 17/10/1873


            As stakeholders in this most interesting contest, we have received from Mr full stop William Thomson of Whitby, the sum of £50, which is his second and final deposit on being half of the Staithes crew. It is rather unfortunate for the match to have been placed at a time of the year when most fishermen are so fully employed that it is impossible for them to leave their avocations to take part in such a competition; and we understand that Mr.Thompson, has for this reason, been unable to secure the services of the crew which he at first trawls to represent the hardy men of Staithes. The race, as most of our readers will know, is fixed to take place off Redcar between one and 1:30 o’clock on Saturday afternoon next (24/10), and a steamer has been secured to follow all the competing boats. As stakeholders it falls to our lot to nominate a refereed to judge upon and control the match; and as a professional man, unacquainted with either side, must needs he be appointed, the parties will understand that the usual expenses will have to be paid. Newcastle Chronicle.

Accreditation the Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 24/10/1873

FOR £200

This race, the conditions of which were published were published in our columns last week, 10/10/73 came off on Saturday last (17/10) the result being the victory of the Redcar men. The forenoon of Saturday was threatening and gloomy, and at eleven 11 o’clock rain fell heavily; but after the shower the weather brightened and brilliant sunshine succeeded, and continued during the whole of the afternoon. A large number of visitors and inhabitants assembled on the Redcar Pier, for although the race started off Coatham Pier the place most convenient for observation was the Redcar Pier Head. Amongst the visitors present non-web more enthusiastic are anxious for the success of the Redcar fishermen than Mrs. Dawson, of Weston Hall, Otley, a lady who is well known as one of the most munificent patrons of Redcar.

After the race was over the four Redcar fishermen returned to the Redcar Pier Head, where Mrs. Dawson awaited of their arrival, and, with her accustomed generosity, presented them with a bottle of champagne and a sovereign each, the drinking of the former to Mrs Dawson’s health been accompanied by an enthusiastic cheering stop the following description of the race, with slight corrections, is taken from Monday’s Newcastle Chronicle.

It was generally felt that the match was a thoroughly genuine one, and very considerable interest was manifested in it. Each party teeing anxious to obtain the best crews from “toilers of the sea” on the north-east coast, they set themselves to work to select their men, and ultimately the following were appointed to champion their respective localities :-


John Picknett, 40 years of age, 11st.11lbs (stroke.)
Richard Picknett, 32 years of age, 11st.8lbs.
Thomas Picknett, 27 years of age, 11st.10lbs.
John Thompson, 19 years of age, 12st.3lbs.


Simeon Robinson, 37 years of age. 12st. (stroke.)
Francis Harrison, 43 years of age,12st.10lbs
John Crooks, 23 years of age, 12st.2lbs
Thomas Coale, 19 years of age, 13st.8lbs.

            The Staithes Crew arrived in the steam-tug Emu from Whitby about midday, and took the waters at the Globe Inn, High Street, to which house there were followed by a large crowd. The Redcar men resorted to the Royal Hotel, and were accompanied by their friends. About half past twelve o’clock, the umpires, Mr. Trattles,, of Coatham (for Staithes men, and Mr. F. Hedley, West Hartlepool (for Redcar men), assisted by Mr. Thompson and others pecuniarily interested in the match, commenced to make the necessary preliminary arrangements with a view to getting the flag boats off the crews into their cobbles. Crowds of people then began to assemble on the Sands, the promenade between Redcar and Coatham became thickly studded with spectators, and the Redcar Pier was lined with persons anxious to witness the coming struggle, The Prairie Flower, belonging to Messrs. Dickson of Stockton, which had been chartered for the referee party, was steaming off the coast, the Confidence steam tug, the River King, of Stockton, and the Emu, were hovering about, and picking up passengers taking out to them in cobles from Redcar. After a little delay, the respective crews got into there are boards and put off amid much cheering. The Redcar men had won the toss for the cobles, and they picked the “Gentle Annie,” leaving for the Staithes men “The Rising Sun.” As nearly as possible the boats were alike, both being about 18’3” in length, and weighing something like 12cwt.each. North cobles were built by Mr. Charles Cambridge, of Hartlepool about 10 years ago. As soon as the two crews, accompanied by the flood board (to be mowed as the starting post), had towed off towards Coatham Pier, the referee, Mr. Edward Winship, of the Ravensworth Arms, St. Anne’s Street, Newcastle, and a few friends, put off in a callable from the Redcar sands, and were put on board the Prairie Flower. Ample opportunity was afforded the people on board the steamers to scrutinise the crews. The occupants of both cobles looked suddenly fete for the work they had in hand, their physique warranting the belief that now the crew would win without a fair share of hard work. At the bow of the Staithes coble floated a red, white, and blue flag of larger dimensions. After rowing about two and a half miles out to sea Mr. Winship requested the crews to get ready for the race. The flag board was moulded, and amidst great sharing the crews paddled until they got into line. On behalf of the Staithes men Mr. Thompson had won the toss for sides, and he selected the off side. The Redcar men were the first to strip, but there antagonists were not long following their example. The two men amidships in the Staithes Crew kept their flannels on, but the whole of the other men in both cobles were stripped to the “buff.” no time was lost in manoeuvring for the start, Mr. Winship at once placing the cobbles in a fair line and giving the necessary warning and single to “go.” An excellent start was made, and the boards dashed away so evenly as to give the idea that there were going to be a severe struggle. A few strokes, however, satisfied critical onlookers that the Redcar men would win. So confident were the Staithes party before the start that they had been laying 2 to 1 and 7 to 4on their men, but no such wages were offered after the race had begun. From the first the Staithes crew steered badly, whilst the Redcar man road as if they were in a fine four and kept in such a straight line that people on the beach might have fancied that they had a tiller to guide them. In consequence of the Staithes men steering so badly, the cobles got about 50 yards apart, and it was doubtful to many whether the strangers were not leading. Any impression of this kind, however, lasted only a short time, for it was soon unmistakably apparent that the Redcar callable was ahead, and approaching the Redcar rock buoy they were clearly leading about a length. On reaching the buoy about 1 mile of the six had been rowed, and the leading crew had increased the distance between the boats to fully three lengths. The stroke of the Staithes coble put his oars too deep into the water and consequently lost a great deal of power, the lum of the oars – especially the right hand one – often being level with his head. The start had been effected at two o’clock, and at eighteen minutes past two the Redcar men were pulling 27 strokes per minute.

Twenty minutes after the start the Redcar coble was about twelve lengths ahead. Here the Staithes men put on a gallant spurt, but it was of no avail, the Redcar crew having any quantity in hand. At this point a Scarborough fishing smack and several cobles in full sail joined the steamboats and accompanied the race for a short distance. Getting nearer the land, the water was smoother but there was still sufficient swell on to pitch the Staithes sport about and to make their bad steering more apparent. Opposite Marske church were live the remains of the late Earl of Zetland, who during his long life manifested such an interest in the fishermen of the course, the Redcar coble was fully twenty lengths in advance of their plucky competitors, who pulled a game stern chase. Approaching Saltburn, one of the Redcar crew – Richard Picknett – held up his hand in token of an easy triumph achieved, and amidst great sharing the Redcar men pass the winning post more than 30 boat lengths ahead, having roared the 6 miles in 50 ½ minutes. Mr. Winship went round with the hat and collected about 3 pounds for the losing crew. It is to be regretted that it was deemed necessary for the race to be roared so far out at sea that the people on the Coatham and Redcar Piers, and on the Redcar Sands, were unable to enjoy the contest so thoroughly as they would have done had the race been nearer the shore. Thousands of persons went on to Saltburn Pier and loudly cheered the crews.

Mr. Charles Moore, of Saltburn, kindly consented to be the judge, and took his station in the flag boat is precisely half past one o’clock.



Lol Hansom September 5, 2014 Fishermen