When Endeavour Went to Westminster

Fishermen are once again asking for greater control of the seas as the country tries to secure trading deals with the European Union. When we joined the Common Market fishermen were just as militant about their rights and took their protests to the heart of London.

Endeavour’s former owner, Peter Wexham had a leading part in the protest with his partner, Dave Spurgeon. Recalling the protest Peter said: “It was always hard to make a living whilst having a family and a mortgage as well as the expenses of the boat and this was a very hard decision in my life.

“We were going into the Common Market and the Government claimed all the resources under the sea, oil, as and aggregates but gave away our fish to European control. I made a banner with ‘S O S’ on it, standing for ‘Save Our Soles’. The ‘O’ was shaped like a lifebelt and it was quite good even if I say so myself. We joined the flotilla of boats from all around the country on our day of protest at Westminster. It was a long trip up the River and we had some local press with us. As we went through docklands all the cranes lowered their jibs to us as we went past . It was a tremendous sight which I don’t think had ever happened before except when Churchill's funeral went past the docks.

“Once we got up the river the Police and the PLA stopped us and we were all told to moor up but just one small boat could go through Tower Bridge to happened before, it may have done for Churchill if his trip went past the docks but this I do not remember. Once we got up the river the Police and the PLA stopped us and we were all told to moor up but they said just one small boat can go through Tower Bridge to make the protest and it was down to the Endeavour to do this with the world's cameras watching. They stopped the traffic and raised Tower Bridge so we could go through up to London Bridge and back down again to join the fleet.

“The fishermen were put on a pleasure boat to go up to Westminster Pier along with the TV cameras and crews. The protesters wanted to be seen and crowded in front of them which led to howls of protest from the skipper who had lost control of the boat as the weight forward had lifted the rudder propeller out of the water!

“We did our march along Whitehall and the Embankment to Big Ben where a coffin with signs on it saying, ‘British fish for British fishermen’ was launched off the bridge into the water. We watched it go down river until the PLA got it out as a hazard to shipping. It was a sad day and I had a bad headache which for some reason I always did when I went to London. I asked Dave to drop me off at Tilbury where I got the train home. The next day I talked to my family and Dave and sold him my share in the business and never went on board her again until we found her years later in Rochester.”




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