REDCAR – Fishermen Open Sea Race with Staithes

Accreditation Cleveland Standard 12/10/1935

When Redcar Beat Staithes


Mr. Picknett’s Memories

(Special to the “Standard)

   My mind was transported back through the years as I listened to Mr. T. B. Picknett of Redcar, a member of the famous fishing family, when he told me the story of the Redcar fishermen humbling the Staithes fishermen.

   The Staithes fishermen, Mr. Picknett told me, had a rowing match with the fishermen of Blyth. The race was in a large ocean going coble; with four men rowing over a stated course far out at sea. The Staithes fishermen won and consequently were filled with pride.
   In an interview with the reporter of the “Newcastle Evening Chronicle” the leader of these men issued a challenge. “We challenge any four fishermen on the North East Coast to a rowing match, the stakes to be £5 a-side.
   Three Picknett brothers, Richard, Thomas, Jack, and a local fisherman name Thompson took up the challenge.
   The day was fixed; two cobles were procured, as merely alike as could be. They were freshly painted and stored in a hotel yard. The leaders of the two teams had to toss for which boat they would take. Jack Picknett won but, turning aside to his opponent told him to take his pick.
   The boats were taken down to the beach and sent off . . They went out as far as the end of Coatham Pier (then in existence), just near the Coatham Hotel, and there the race started. The course lay out to Redcar Buoy, which they had to go round and then row to Saltburn Pier where the race was to end.
    Anyone with any money, said Mr. Picknett with a smile, began to bet, and Staithes people were wagering domestic animals. Two tugs besides numerous small boats carried huge crowds of sightseers. At the start of the race the odds on the Picknett’s were about 7 to 1.
   The race started, and almost immediately the Redcar boat drew away, and in a few minutes were two hundred yards ahead.
   The odds on the Picknett’s shortened and soon no one could lay a bet. The sightseers followed and when the race was finished at Saltburn Pier the Redcar team was three quarters of a mile in the lead.
   The Redcar fishermen had proved to be superior to the Staithes men in rowing prowess.
   That was a long time ago. Later Richard, one of the team was drowned at Marske. Jack and the two boys were saved. Tom died early this year (1935).
   Each of these men have taken out Lord Bolton, who mentioned his experiences at their hands in his opening speech at the Trades Exhibition.
   They have also taken out Miss Bell, now Lady Richmond, and sister of Miss Gertrude Bell.
   “I have taken out Miss Bell several times.” said Mr. T. R. Picknett, “when Mr. Tom was not about. She was just like a man in the boat. I had to sit still while she hauled up the sail – no mean feat in a large coble – and also ship the rudder.”
   And I left Mr. Picknett sitting with a far away look in his eyes, thinking of the times that have gone, never to return.

            –K. R.


dean June 15, 2010 Redcar