William Henry Lindsey 1
WH Lindsey was born 1906 he lived between Wadebridge and at times in Newquay. His father was a master baker in Egloshayle Road Wadebridge. His grandfather and uncle were boat builders W.H. Brabyn of Trevilling Quay. As a lad, he spent most of his time helping out with building and repairs to vessel there, often taking his young daughter Mary with him. She would love to sit on the benches and watch granddad at work. In 1921 he applied to his uncle Steve Brabyn of Padstow, to become an apprentice. His Father took him down to Padstow to meet his new employer Steve. He got the job and started the following day. Having to travel down from Wadebridge by train and walk to the yard which was known as the lower yard.
One of his first jobs was cleaning up the shavings in the sheds where men had been working. His main first job was with the “Helen Peele” she was the RNLI tug stationed at Padstow, she was to be brought in to the dock on the next spring tide, before this could be done the base of the dock had to be cleared of stones, rocks and bulks of timber, then chocks were laid for the boat to sit on.
All this work was over seen by RNLI inspectors, the boat had to sit level and square to prevent any damage. On the next spring tide she was brought in, Owing to her size it was a very difficult job.
Being an apprentice, he was subject to all the mundane jobs which he carried out and soon became a well-respected apprentice, there wasn’t a job he would not have a go at. All through his apprenticeship he worked very hard and soon became head apprentice. He built his first dinghy which in those days an apprentice had to do before becoming a trades man. During the war period he worked on many navy related vessels. So he applied to go to Plymouth dockyard to work on vessels. But as many became aware of Steve Brabyn did not give out Indentures. He carried on working with Steve Brabyn for many years, before opening his own yard within the red brick building. The down stairs were okay and one large room was made over to build boats and the one next door was mainly for repairs. Soon after this he took over the running of, the Padstow to Rock ferry. Built his own boats, from his own design. He built the “St Petroc” Percy Mitchell built another one called the “St Petrocstowe”, there was also “St Minver”, “Aurivour” and of course the “Zim”. When things started to get busier, he built the “St Saviours”, this was built in the Redbrick building, but was so big he extended the doors to cover the protruding bow.
I am sure at this time He was the biggest employer in Padstow and by now he had taken over another yard up at the old fish market.
Work was hard and money was short, most of the main jobs now were the fishing fleets coming in from all over the country. Jobs were repairs to trawl doors, bobbing any woodwork needed. From the early onset of starting on his own, he took on all work such as clearing Rock beach of the miles and miles of barbed wire from the war. The breaking up of the schooner “Genesta” was another job he took on. Selling mussels from Porthilly to Poole in Dorset he worked on with Tom Morrissey.
With Brabyns yard going into disrepair, he bought the yard from Steve, the work carried on from there, the redbrick building and the station yard site. Another venture Father went into was the old ice factory, this was one of his yards. He went into a company business and built a café, a dance hall and a shop which my sister Barbara ran.
After many years, the coming of fibre glass came to Cornwall, wood boatbuilding took a bad hit. From this he went sadly into a venture to build a Hotel on the lower yard site, this was carried out by family and builders from Newquay and Padstow. The Padstow Boatel was formed this combined a restaurant, hotel with many rooms a bar and lounge.
Father and mother ran this for a few years but sadly lost the business!!! With the ending of his life’s work, he and members of the family, and several people from Padstow, he decided to donate his tools and form a museum. This was started around 1972, his sons Bill and Derek were there to assist him with this venture and Derek is still there some 46 years on.
We as a family started a smaller venture and that is of the Padstow Craft club, we had several different crafts going with Father tutoring some of the youngsters.
From there he came to live at Porthcothan with his son Derek and from there worked at Tregirls car park where he took on a new hobby of carving, the first project was love spoons he made them whilst taking money at the car park he found people were asking to buy them, welsh dressers and furniture for dolls house were among the bits he produced. It was around this time that Mother developed cancer.
To help with cancer funds, he decided on his biggest venture of all “Wooden chains” This one is on display at Padstow Museum. This was made from a piece of mahogany, I’m not sure exactly what type of mahogany, it’s dimension was 2inch x 2inch and some 26 feet long, with this he made a wooden chain all by hand, and when finished it had grown two feet in length.
This was displayed over in the White shelter and people were asked to guess the length, with money going to the hospice towards a scanner, he displayed his chain all over Padstow and raised a lot of money, sadly mother passed away but his work fundraising for cancer carried on.
40 odd years later, Bill my father is still alive within the walls of our wonderful Padstow Museum, you can see his chain there hanging in a corner with a draft of what it was for.
I hope you enjoy my short account of my wonderful fathers’ life.
Derek Lindsey August 2019
Born Thomas Patrick Morrissey on 3rd December 1915 to Jimmy and Kate Morrissey. Both Jimmy's father and Kate's father (Patrick O'Keefe) had left Ireland during the potato famine and settled in Cornwall marrying Cornish girls. Jimmy and Kate lived at 12 South Quay looking out at the boats. Jimmy at that time was a fisherman working under sail with the Kingfisher and taking summer visitors on fishing trips. He also had a fleet of small boats which were hired to visitors for their own adventures on the Camel. Tommy grew up in and around the boats and was helping Jimmy from a young age. When Tommy was nine the elementary (board school he called it) encouraged him to enter a drawing competition run by the British and dominions school of drawing. His entry was good enough for him to be offered a reduced price correspondence course. They hoped to persuade the family for Tommy to take up a scholarship course. There was not enough money but more importantly Jimmy being crippled in a boating accident aged 11 was now relying on Tommy to help with the boats.
Tommy left school at 14 and started work on the fish market working as a ganger under Charlie Brinham but after two weeks he was taken on by Bloomfields of Yarmouth. Their boats came to Padstow for the Trevose white fish season from January to May each year. Tommy had many jobs with Bloomfields learning the ropes but was employed by them each season ending up as their agent in Padstow responsible for re-provisioning the trawlers, keeping a tally of their landings at the market sorting out repairs, coaling, water and ice so that they could go back to sea after a couple of days in port.
In the summer he helped on the Kingfisher with the trips for visitors, catching mackerel. Bass and herring in season as well as coping with the hire of the small boats, their maintenance and recovery when visitors got tired of rowing or scared of the sea and abandoned them all up and down the river. There was always more than enough to do.
Then aged 21 he developed peritonitis which put him in hospital in Bodmin, in a touch and go situation for a while. During his recovery he was taught how to make and put ships in bottle by another patient, on his discharge he had a very useful skill. The art of carving the ship's hull, the fine painting and the intricate rigging and sails suited his artistic abilities but most of all he loved painting the putty seas and the signal flags flown from the ships masts.
When he had recovered, he went back to work on the "Kingfisher" with his Father. He was deemed not fit to be called up for war service but went into coastal command and ended up as a Chief's� Petty Officer serving around Cornwall and in Plymouth on search and rescue for downed planes and boats that had hit mines in the western approaches.
1945 saw him back in Padstow running the Kingfisher married and with a baby daughter to support. Jimmy�s injury now had him mostly bedridden and Tommy supported the whole family. Fishing was good the trawlers came back Tommy was with Bloomfields again for the season and the train was bringing in visitors, He had a good side line with his ships in bottles his painting skills were put to good use painting the registration letters and numbers on other fishing boats .When he was 14 he had been co-opted by his Uncles to paint the hat for the Blue Ribbon Obby Oss (Peace Oss) This job he continued to do for the whole of his life. He also designed and painted the Blue Ribbon stable sign which is on the Harbour Inn next door to Tommy's cottage in Strand Street.
The family moved into the cottage in 1952 at the same time he bought the ex-lifeboat "Docea Chapman" and converted her into the fishing boat "Girl Maureen". A good sea boat and with his fishing skills a good earner for the family. Tommy was always around the quay the Irish ancestry made him happy to stop and chat with one and all passing on the history of the locality orally to anyone who had the time to listen. He would be on the quay mending nets making pots fixing engines painting boats or their registration numbers and if he was happy the fishing was good and the sun was shining he'd be singing. He had been on the radio programme "Down Your Way" with Richard Dimbleby talking about ships in bottle and was sent loads of Dimple bottles in the hope of a ship in return. His chosen song was "One of A Roving Kind" so he sang that a lot, but he also favoured "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Farewell and Adieu to you Spanish Ladies" and selections of songs that his Mother Kate sang from time to time.
As daughter number one got married daughter number two arrived to help out on the boats and keep him company down quay. In the early 1970's he made and painted the hat for the Blue Ribbon and the Old Oss. Maureen had presented him with a Grand-daughter and for the baby he made a rattle in the form of the teasers club for the Blue Ribbon Oss. He was still putting ships in bottles for friends and by this time had started on oil paintings of tall ships. He painted the trawlers he had worked on for Bloomfields. When he had the peritonitis he had painted in watercolour the Thermopylae as a thank you to the nurse who had looked after him in hospital. Now he repeated the painting in oils. Tommy used mixed media. He could have tubes of oil paint household paint markers as long as the end result was a good rigged ship with the wind in the sails and on the sea in the right tone and movement he was happy. He also painted portraits of his mates fishing boats.
From 1970 onwards he became involved in the folk revival increasing his repertoire of songs and singing in the Old Ship with his mate Charlie Pitman. They gave loads of visitors happy memories of time spent in Padstow. Tommy and Charlie were recorded by Veteran records and produced a cassette called "Pass Around the Grog". The family often came home to find Strand Street full of film companies or University students doing a thesis on May Day.
Throughout all this he was a fisherman first and foremost and many of the young would be fishermen went to sea with Tommy to learn the ropes. He was a hard taskmaster but you were taught to do the job properly with due respect for the power of the sea.
Tommy a man who overcame illness loved to fish to paint to sing to entertain people and led a very full life but first and foremost he was a Padstonian extremely proud of his town and his home.
"Girl Maureen tied up along the Quay"
That quizzical look said "You haven’t got the dam rope in the Prop"
Catch must have been good, Tommy's smiling.
Steaming home at the stern with his pipe & a cuppa
Tommy with Alfie Orchard. Old partners in crime.
This photograph was made into a poster for advertising
This book was printed about Tommy's life, by his daughter
Maureen Tatlow & good friend Gill Scott
"Tommy Morrissey fisherman painter"