The story of Hull’s “headscarf revolutionaries” was told to an audience of fishing charity and industry VIPs at the Cutty Sark in London to mark the first annual National Fishing Remembrance Day.

The multimedia 12 Silk Handkerchiefs production, which was first performed in Hull in 2017, features leading folk singer-songwriter Reg Meuross and East Yorkshire singer and musician Sam Martyn. It has been at Hull Minster twice, and went on a 10-date tour of port towns and cities in late 2o19.

It is inspired by the book by Brian W Lavery, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, which tells how the “fighting fishwife” Lillian Bilocca led a campaign for better safety on trawlers in the wake of the 1968 Triple Trawler Tragedy, in which 58 men lost their lives.

The production features audio and video from the time, and is centred on a cycle of six songs by Reg Meuross, covering key elements of the story, including Fish House Woman – about the women who filleted the fish in harsh conditions – and The Man the Sea Gave Back, which tells the incredible tale of Harry Eddom, the sole survivor of the sinking of the Ross Cleveland.

The regular narrator of the production is Brian W Lavery himself – but because of a recent illness he was unable to attend the Cutty Sark performance, so in a recorded video introduction he welcomed his replacement on the night, Hull actor Dan McGarry.

Dan’s appearance was especially poignant because he is the son of the late Mick McGarry, much-missed legend of the Hull folk and trade union scenes – and former 12 Silk Handkerchiefs performer.

The show was held underneath the hull of the famous clipper ship, which was built in 1869 and is now an award-winning visitor attraction in Greenwich. It was supported by the Seafarers Charity and Seafish.


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12 Silk Handkerchiefs for National Fishing Remembrance Day - on the Cutty Sark