Brought To You By
- "Grandma Noddy"
- Times Square - Broadway
- Tracy Francine
- At her Villa in Spain
|Below are some of the
stories Tracy wrote over ten years ago and I thought they may be of
interest, as they are about family. She is still writing but now she
writes and sells her stories to magazines whilst at the same time working on
her book that she will complete one of these days.
Let me know what you think about the website at:
Tom's website is on:
Tracy (Francine Lee) on:
Tracy's son [and my grandson]
Nick can be viewed on:
Dianne now has her own website
on holistic therapies:
Worse Things Happen At
- Francine Lee
As a child growing up in Grimsby and its
environs, and having strong links with the fishing industry, I was always very
aware of the sea and life upon it. If tears were caused by a tumble or a
broken toy, I was never told the proverb ' no use crying over spilt milk' but
'never mind, worse things happen at sea'. This phrase was often uttered by
my grandmother, among others, and always aroused my curiosity - what worse
things? Well grandma should know.
She was the eldest girl from a family of eight,
four boys, four girls. Her father and uncles were skippers on
trawlers, as was their father and his father also. Her four brothers
and her only son, all became skippers, the latter breaking many landing
records in the 70's before the demise of the industry. Grandma, or
Nanny Lettie as we called her, was the second eldest in the family, her
brother Alf being her senior by two years.
Skipper by the age of twenty, his first
trip in the command of the S.S. Leicestershire at the age of twenty-five was to
be his last. He and his crew were lost when the ship went down off the
Isle of Hoy in the Orkneys. Fifteen men died, twelve of them married,
leaving behind twenty-three fatherless children. The ship was bound for
home when it was caught in fierce gales and sank.
Out at sea, crews kept in touch via radio.
Alf's father, also called Alf, spoke to his son before they turned for home.
Great Granddad anticipated his son landing back in Grimsby a day or so before
him and sent Alf with message for the family of when to expect him in.
When Great Grandfather returned to dock he shouted to men ashore to ask if Alf
had made a good trip. He was told the Leicestershire had not returned.
The first news to reach Grimsby was that
wreckage had been found off the Isle of Hoy bearing part of the word Grimsby and
a wireless set marked No. 1125. By process of elimination the wreckage was
identified as that of the Leicestershire.
Angered by the lack of concern of the
trawler's owners Alf's father paid for my Grandfather Jim (Nanny Lettie's
husband) to fly to the Orkneys. Jim would be able to find out what had
happened and he would also be on hand to identify the bodies. The
Islanders, had with great heroism and courage, retrieved the bodies, though not
all were recovered.
On the 6th February 1938, the trawler
'Hampshire' sailed into Grimsby docks with its cargo of six black coffins
bearing the bodies of those found. It was Sunday night. All the
other ships in the estuary held back so that the 'Hampshire' would be first
through the lock gates. Crowds of friends and relatives stood on the
quayside awaiting its arrival. It must have been an incredibly tragic
My great grandfather, his remaining three
sons and two other male relatives went on board to unload the coffins.
They were placed in the hearses to be taken to the Bethel Missions, the
Fishermen's Chapel, in Tiverton Street.
Alfred Evans was from one of the best
known and widely respected fishing families in the town. On a cold winters
evening the streets were lined with hundreds of people, from the Dock Roads to
The Mission, as the cortege made its way in silence.
People paid their last respects at the
mission during the next two days. On the day of the funeral the streets
were lined six deep with mourners.
The bodies were interred at Scartho Road
Cemetery. Although other bodies were recovered they were too disfigured to
identified and are buried on The Orkneys.
Photo 1 - Ernie Rogers [I believe], ?, and my grandfather Jim
Meadows, Great-Granddad Alf stood to the right
Photo 2 - ?, Bill Hughes [I believe], Jim Evans and Great-Granddad
Nanny Lettie always said that that first
loss hit her so hard that the following losses never seemed to hurt so much.
Three years later in April 1941 her husband was killed in the war, returning to
his ship, a minesweeper. Another brother died whilst fishing, one at home
and one is still alive, Uncle Jim. He is a great source of stories of life
at sea, of the hardship, of loss of life and limb. At the age of 75 he
still works down the docks, as a ship's husband, standing watch when the ship is
in dock and overseeing repairs and the restocking or stores. Nanny Lettie's son John is still at sea, but no longer fishing. Once the top
skipper in the country he took to sailing from Spain and is now on the
'Stand-by' boats off the oil rigs, all his skills laid waste.
Men that have gone to sea since boyhood
know of, nor want any other life. Away for three weeks at a time and
ashore for two or three days, they barely got to know their families, nor their
families them. At sea they live in cramped conditions and work, when the
fish is on, day and night. When in Arctic waters ice has to be chipped
from the ship with an axe so that it doesn't become top heavy and keel over.
They are at work in rough, cold, unforgiving seas. Lives and limbs lost
part of everyday existence. Now I know why 'worse things happen at sea'.
- 'Fishermen's Memorial'
- (photo by Gary Evans)
|This was written over 10 years ago and
since then Jim has died and the last of the 8 children Jean Eva also died
last year 2004.
Back To Top
- Francine Lee
|When I was about eight years old life,
although rather stressful for my parents, began to get rather exciting for
me. Dogged by financial worries Dad decided to give up his plumbing
business and trained to be a Publican. Before he and Mum could have a
pub of their own they had to do relief work, which meant covering at pubs
when the present landlords were on holiday. it must have been
horrendous for my mother having to move from place to place remembering
school uniforms and baby equipment, but to us children it was the start of a
great adventure. We lived in Waltham, which at that time was a slowly
expanding village and all the pubs we were to stay in were in Grimsby Town.
Our first temporary "home" was the 'Duke of Wellington'
on Pasture Street. To the left of it was the local Brewery and to the
right, a few yards up was the main railway crossing, complete with signal
box and long white gates. I would spend hours gazing from the windows,
watching the lights flash and the barriers glide across to form the large
red warning circle on the front. As Pasture Street was the main
thoroughfare between Freeman Street and Top Town there was always a constant
parade of vehicles and pedestrians making their way from one to the other.
The lights flashed, the gates came across and it seemed as if life was
suspended, waiting for the train. It would come rattling by, the gates
would move gracefully back and cars and people would jerk back into motion.
We had to keep out of sight during pub hours but the
remainder of the time were able to prowl around and explore. I felt
very privileged - I was in a building were only grown-ups were allowed.
The rooms were huge and the bars were a blend of glass, mirrors and bottles,
so many different shapes, so many labels.
I quickly made the acquaintance of Bill the bottle
man. He would arrive early morning and his job was to crate up the
empties and restock the shelves. I soon became his assistant. A
crate upended and used as a seat, a damp cloth to wipe the bottles and I was
ready for work. Every label had to face the front, rows perfectly
straight. Once the task was completed my reward would be a game of
dominoes, always hiding the double blank in the belief that the fewer spots
I had left in my hand, the more chance I had of winning.
The following two pubs were situated by the Bull Ring
'The Tivoli Tavern'
and 'The White Hart'. The Tivoli was a lovely
little pub, warm and friendly, and part of the main terrace facing the
Market Square. Albert Gait, booksellers, was next door, Chambers next
to that and toward the end of the street Noble's sweet shop. The other
buildings are lost from memory being of no childish value. It was the
Easter Holidays during our stay there and we were inundated with sweets and
eggs from generous customers. Living in a pub appeared to have many
During the day I would wander around the square.
Albert Gait's would be the first port of call admiring books and art
materials that never lost their appeal, then on to Chambers. Chambers
was not a shop it was an experience. You only had to open the door and
the wonderful essence of coffee beans would swim up your nose. I would
stroll around the dark interior peering at the produce in it's great
counters, teas, coffees, in huge glass fronted compartments, biscuits to be
bought by the pound, nothing pre-packed. Money and receipts whizzed
overhead in little gold capsules to the cashiers. You could certainly
have a good day out at Chambers.
On a Market Day morning we would look out onto a
different landscape. A sea of green canvas, dipping and rising in
waves would cover the square. Brightly coloured flowers in buckets,
pyramids of fruit and vegetables, clothes dancing on their hangers in the
early morning breeze. Traders shouting their wares, buses spewing
shoppers on to the streets. All day long people would stream back and
forth until around four o'clock when business would start to taper off.
Stalls would be gradually folded down, traders drove away, cleaners remained
to clear away the debris.
The White Hart was the other side of the Bull Ring on
the corner of Wellowgate and facing St. James' Church. Each morning we
would wake to it's bells ringing reveille ready for school. Even
though only a minutes walk from The Tivoli from here there was a totally new
perspective on the square, the Church being dominant to the scene. At
the back of the White Hart was a large courtyard where the draymen delivered
the beer and across from the arched entrance was the off-licence - handy for
I don't recall much of the pub itself only that it was
there that I first saw a Dimple Whisky bottle and rescued one to save
We only accompanied our parents to three pubs but it
was during that time I became aware that life existed beyond our countryside
haven. After a year my Mum and Dad became managers of their own pub
'The Pier Hotel' in Cleethorpes, situated opposite the Pier itself and
stretching out to either side beaches and the sea and more adventures to
Back To Top
- Francine Lee
I felt it quite warming that sounds,
smells and even taste, can evoke such vivid memories of times past, and at
the most unexpected moments.
A quick sortie around Sainsbury's
the other day and the purchase of that long forgotten delicacy - potted
meat - brought back such wonderful thoughts of childhood, and of one
person in particular - Nanny Lettie.
Although my purchase came in an
antiseptic looking white plastic tub - stating the required nutritional
information - I was transported back to my Grandmother's local corner
store where potted meat was scooped from a large white pot, slapped onto
squares of greaseproof paper, and wrapped like 'six-pennorth of chips.'
It was such a treat to go to her
house for the week-end, just Nanny and I, no siblings to vie for her
attention, and I could look forward to being spoiled and cosseted.
With Nanny Lettie unable to drive
(she later bought a car and whizzed about) we would catch the
single-decker bus that would take us to Queen Mary Avenue. Once on
board she would strike up conversations with other passengers and soon the
whole bus would be alive with the gossip and debate of the day.
She lived in Cleethorpes and,
although this bordered on the town of Grimsby a large and prosperous
fishing port, the many small shops and businesses that were dotted around
the area, gave it the characteristics of a small village. We could
hardly walk a few yards before we saw Mr. or Mrs. So and So, who would nod
in recognition or stop to pass the time of day. A five minutes walk
would often take an hour or more, depending on who she met.
As we strolled down the roads and
avenues to Dugard Road she would point out where some relative or other
lived, or had lived once upon a time. As a small child I was under
the impression that Cleethorpes consisted mainly of relatives on my
We would call at the Butchers,
Bakers, Post Office and shopkeepers, knowing her by name, would chat
easily to her whilst preparing her order. How many children of today
miss, with the loss of the small shops, some only having the knowledge of
the local supermarket on a Saturday afternoon.
|We all travelled to Spain on the 30th May 2004 (16 of
us in total) - Neil, Tracy, Nick & Neile' - Nick, Dianne, Luanne, Roxanne &
Olivia - Andrew, Taryn, Talia & Tom Jnr. - Tom & Joan & Alfreda. We were there for
two weeks and we had a fantastic time relaxing, swimming, gardening (Neil had
got some exotic plants and they needed planting pretty quickly - 300
altogether), Alfreda began planting whilst we
went into Marbella, she didn't want to come and when we got back she had done
quite a bit of the planting but ended up with a very red back, she didn't
realise how hot the sun was. We spent quite a lot of time during the next
few days planting and digging with help from Andy and Nick and Neil digging
out the heavy rocks so we could get on with the planting. Taryn and Di
took the younger girls, Luanne, Roxanne and Neile' into Marbella one night as
a treat and the young ones were teetering on their new high heels and had very
sore feet when they got home. Taryn wore very high heels all the time we
were there, she's an expert. Tommy did the cooking for us all when we
weren't eating out, he's quite a treasure. I don't know where we dug him up.
It was great to see Nick after his six months in
Austria snowboarding etc. and studying at the University of Life.
Alfreda was doing facials whilst we were there and
that included the men. They were all very impressed at how lovely their
skin felt afterwards!!
Bank Holiday week of May 2003 We all went to "Sunny Spain" to visit
Neil and Tracy in the south of Spain to enjoy their hospitality. We (Andrew, Taryn, Talia, Thomas, Tom, Joan and Alfreda)
arrived early on Sunday morning 25th May 2003 and in residence when we
arrived was Neil, Tracy and Neile`.
We had the most wonderful time and the
weather for the whole 7 days was fantastic and we spent our time beside the
super swimming pool and explored the acres of land surrounding the Villa.
has made some terrific alterations to the Villa during the time he has owned
it and keeping the style of it very Spanish. The Villa is up in the
mountains and very private. We had some fun in the early days driving
up the very steep road to the Villa thankfully for me and the rest of the
crowd I didn't do any driving.
We all got a tan and Tommy Jnr. spent
most of the time running around the pool with not a stitch on enjoying the
We visited and
ate out in the local town on Tapaz and other Spanish delicacies and learnt
some of the language whilst we were there and intend to learn more.
The Villa is situated not far from Marbella and we visited a couple of times
and also went further along the coast to Puerto Buenos (not sure of the
spelling) which is where all the very large yachts and cruisers berth and it
is quite a sight.
Tom Snr. cooked breakfast every morning
for all of us and some of the evening meals, when we weren't eating out.
He's becoming quite a treasure, worth his weight in gold!!!!!
The only thing that wasn't quite right
was because Dianne, Nick, Lu, Roxy and Olivia were missing. Someday
soon we'll all be able to be together on a holiday and that would be just
Back To Top
First of all there was a grand family gathering for Joan's 65th birthday on the 15th July. Family travelled
from far and wide to celebrate this occasion.
The day started with an early morning trip to Yorkshire (Kirk Ella) for Joan, Tracy, Dianne and Taryn to get their hair done at the "Hairdresser of the Year" Mark Hill's Salon, and we were all pampered and cared for by none other than Mark Hill himself. (All thanks to Taryn).
Olivia (2 months old) came along for the experience and was as good as gold.
Then the ladies lunched at Cafe' Valerie (Cleethorpes Seafront) and waddled around the corner to Taryn's house.
Following this a barbeque was held at Andrew and Taryn's home and all family and friends gathered in our favourite place 'The Potting Shed'.
Oldies had nibbles and dribbles and sang old songs until the cold set into their bones and they were taken home and the youngsters took over the Potting Shed. A good time was had
by all. Dad (Tom) even managed to stay right until the end showing a stoicism not seen since he won his British Empire Medal in 1960. There is no limit to this man's courage and endurance.
The following day the family met for a birthday lunch at The Briggate Lodge near Scunthorpe. After a plentiful and beautiful meal we relaxed in the lounge, chatted and relaxed to music played by the pianist in the restaurant. All the children were really well behaved except Neil who kept playing the
piano in the restaurant.
Nick took a week off work and travelled up via City Link truck. He finished his shift at 8.30 pm one Friday and had a ride in the truck to the HUB at Birmingham then, after helping load and unload got on another truck to Sunny Scunny when Grandpa picked him up in the early hours. He had a great week
up there in Cleethorpes sleeping at various houses and eating Chez Nick (those famous fajitas are worth travelling for).
After all this excitement, out of the blue the call was out to go the Center Parcs
for a week. Everyone was up for that apart from Nick B and Lu who were at
work, Neil who was in Spain and Tracy who was left holding the fort.
Grandma and Grandpa drove down to collect Neile` and took Roxy
with them for a long awaited visit to visit Neilé's home.
We tried to pack in as much as possible - a trip to the pub and the trampolines,
a Chinese takeaway; a shopping spree, ski bobbing at
the Ski Centre (where Roxy looked like she was overheating); and a session on the waterslides at Splashdown followed by a
Then the troop took a long drive back home to Cleethorpes, Grandma and Grandpa having to listen to pop music all the way home and Roxy and Neile` suffering to Radio 2 for the last part of the journey.
Then they all went off to Center Parcs (Noddy, Baldy, Taryn, Andy, Di, Nick, Roxy, Neile`, Talia, Tommy and Olivia) everyone made the most of the wonderful facilities. The log cabins were spacious and comfortable Roxy and Neile` went canoeing, windsurfing, roller skating etc. Andy, Nick, Roxy and Neile` had
bikes for the week (Andy having a trailer on his for Talia). We all swam every single day in the wonderful pool/s. There were numerous wonderful eating places and Talia celebrated her 5th birthday there on the 31st July at Huckleberry's restaurant and had a special cake and a magician came and entertained us at the
table. Nick also made his Chicken fajitas (maybe we can persuade
him to tell us his secret recipe for a further issue).
Neile` was brought back by Grandma and Grandpa and Neil took everyone out to a pub five minutes down the road - which by Dad's reckoning was 15 minutes drive - but at least the beer was good (well for southern beer anyway!)