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Life in Hull's Fishing Community

The 1968 Triple Trawler Disaster

Find out more about the Triple Trawler Disaster and the Headscarf Campaign mentioned below by watching the interview video clips in this resource.

What was the Triple Trawler Disaster?

In 1968 three trawlers from Hull sank within a few weeks of each other and 58 men lost their lives. The city of Hull went into shock, especially the Hessle Road area, where most of the fishing community lived. People were horrified that this could have happened.

Who was Involved?

The St Romanus was the first trawler to be lost on the 18 January. All 20 crew members were lost at sea. The second trawler in the disaster was the Kingston Peridot, which was lost on the 26 January with all 20 of its men. The Ross Cleveland was the third trawler to be involved in the tragedy. It was lost on the 4 February, with 18 members of the crew. Only one man survived, Harry Eddom.

The 'Headscarf Campaign'

A campaign for better safety at sea was launched by the wives, sisters and daughters of trawlermen,  and led by Lillian Bilocca.  Lillian was born in Wassand Street, in the heart of Hull's Hessle Road fishing community. Her father, husband and son all made their living at sea. Lillian earned her nickname of 'Big Lil' during her campaign to improve safety and conditions for trawlermen at sea and became a local folk hero, known the country over.

The campaigners met with trawler owners, and also with government ministers,  to discuss better safety and fairer working conditions in the fishing industry. Some  wives picketed the dock to make sure that no ships left without a radio operator.  Lillian even met with Prime Minister Harold Wilson at No. 10 Downing Street.  

The campaign got a huge amount of attention from all of the national newspapers. The campaign was called the 'Headscarf Campaign' by one newspaper and it caught on. Find out why it was called this by viewing the unique film interviews - see video links below.