The power of Triple Trawler Disaster song cycle 12 Silk Handkerchiefs comes to Barton

The powerful story of a fishing community united to campaign for far greater safety stands on trawlers will be re-told at Barton upon Humber’s Ropery Hall later this month.

Singer/songwriter Reg Meuross’s song cycle 12 Silk Handkerchiefs tells the story of Hull’s Hessle Road community were devastated in January 1968 when three Hull trawlers, the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland perished and 58 men died in what became known as the Dark Winter.

First performed in Hull Minster late last year Reg is now taking the show on a national tour this Autumn supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The music which tells of fighting fishwife Lillian Bilocca, who led a battle for better trawler safety following the Triple Trawler Disaster and the songs were inspired by the book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries by Brian W Lavery.

Joined on stage by stalwarts of the Hull folk scene, musicians Mick McGarry and Sam Martyn, Reg’s powerful songs are interwoven with narration from the author and an audio/visual show that includes rarely-seen archive footage, photos and audio from the time of the disaster. Three Hull trawlers, the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland perished and 58 men died in what became known as the Dark Winter.

“Brian’s book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, is now shorthand for the four women Lillian Bilocca, Mary Denness, Yvonne Blenkinsop and Christine Jensen who fought the trawler bosses in a campaign which ended in Westminster,” said Liz Bennet of The Ropewalk.
The show also covered a fourth tragedy, from which the show gets its name, telling how Lillian Bilocca was ostracised by her community and overlooked by history, ending her days in obscurity. Her last action in 1988 as she lay dying, which was to send her daughter Virginia to buy a dozen handkerchiefs to give as gifts to those who had cared for her in hospital.
“Fans of Reg’s music, so accustomed to seeing his intimate solo performances at folk clubs and festivals across the land, will be stunned by the power of this show, and those new to him will find it impossible not to be moved by this emotional and humbling tribute to the many, many lives lost to what was once the most dangerous industry in the world,” Liz went on.
Twelve ilk Handkerchiefs, Songs & Storytelling will be performed on Saturday, September 21, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £13 in advance or £15 on the door. Advance tickets can be bought online at, by telephoning 01652 660380 or in person from The Ropewalk’s Craft Gallery/

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Lynne Hanson

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