Winter 1968. Three Hull trawlers sink. 58 men die. A fishwife leads the fight to change safety laws. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs, Reg Meuross’s 13th album inspired by Brian W. Lavery’s book The Headscarf Revolutionaries, opens a window on Hull’s Hessle Road fishing community in the aftermath of the Triple Trawler Disaster of 1968. After three sellout performances in Hull that recreated and expanded upon the original song cycle, the singer-songwriter is now taking the show on a national tour this Autumn supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
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 author Brian W. Lavery 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.
Fighting fishwife Lillian Billoca’s subsequent successful campaign for improved trawler safety; sole survivor Harry Eddom who returned to sea just eleven weeks after the sinking; and the superstitions, lives and deaths of all those affected: all of these stories are contained within a fascinating and moving work of social and political history described as Meuross’s “most important work to date” by Pennyblack Music.
Reg himself says: “12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a classic tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and the mighty strength of the human spirit. For years the Hull trawlermen and their families fought for survival in the harshest of working conditions: frozen seas with very little safety or protection. It took Lillian and her fellow revolutionaries to fight the companies who were exploiting this community’s poverty and need for work. They took on the Government itself until desperately needed changes in the safety laws were made.
“If ever there was a story of survival vs. greed, honour vs. entitlement, courage and bravery vs. careless exploitation this is it. I believe such a story in living memory needs to be told now, and remembered for the future.”
Those 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.
“Meuross has achieved something rare and important: he has reanimated a valuable piece of history, and he has done so with great sincerity and emotional depth. 12 Silk Handkerchiefs is a fitting tribute not just to Lillian Bilocca, but to the power of individuals to bring about change for the better.” Thomas Blake, Folk Radio UK
“A finely spun tribute… rich in honest emotion, deep humanity, resonant lyrics and infectious melodies.” Mike Davies, Folking.com
“..further confirming Reg Meuross as one of the most eloquent and compelling singer-songwriters ever.” David Pratt, Fatea Magazine
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Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/
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Artist’s website: http://www.regmeuross.com/12SH/
Read Mike Davies’ full review of 12 Silk Handkerchiefs here.
AUGUST 16: SEAHOUSES METHODIST CHURCH
SEPTEMBER 13: GRIMSBY FISHERMAN’S CHAPEL
SEPTEMBER 14: WEST KIRBY ARTS CENTRE
SEPTEMBER 16: GREENWICH THEATRE, LONDON
SEPTEMBER 18: JUBILEE HALL, ALDEBURGH
SEPTEMBER 19: THE SEAGULL, LOWESTOFT
SEPTEMBER 20: *RAISING THE RAFTERS, WATH
SEPTEMBER 21: ROPERY HALL, THE ROPEWALK, BARTON-UPON-HUMBER
SEPTEMBER 22: CLUNY 2, NEWCASTLE
OCTOBER 19: MUSICPORT FESTIVAL, WHITBY
*NB solo fundraiser for Humber Rescue