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Review: Broadside On

Life is all about learning and the significance of shipbuilding in Beverley has been brought to home in a new play, commissioned for the 2019 Stage4Beverley Festival.

Penned by local playwright and actor, Gordon Meredith, and produced after much research, Broadside On tells the story of the one of the main industries in the East Yorkshire town.

It was a cast of two, Gordon and his son Joshua, who brought the story to life, using the interesting scenario of a guided tour of Cook, Welton and Gemmell. It was the shipyard where well-known Hull trawler, the Arctic Corsair, was built.

It started with Jim, the tour guide, leading to Stan the draughtsman designing vessels in the office, and then to George and son Frank as riveters.

We learnt that 700 people had worked at the shipyard, described as the number one trawler building yard in the world. It was a male preserve with a third of the workforce being local but what came through was the sense of pride in the way a vessel was constructed. Much of the material for this short play came from research for an East Riding Council exhibition and was complemented by music from Wai Wan.

Broadside On? It’s the description of how completed vessels were launched at Beverley, sideways.

The final section was young Alex from the local museum talking to Ken in the pub about his memories. It was comical to see Ken trying to insert his hearing aid to have a decent conversation, a throwback to my late father who hated wearing his. Ken’s hearing had been affected by the noise of the shipyard in an era where cotton wool was the solution to this health and safety dilemma.

The chapter ended in the late 1970s because of the need for bigger vessels.

If you missed this one at the East Riding Theatre, there will be a second performance on Saturday 6th April, 1.30pm, at Beverley Guildhall. Tickets are available here.

Tony Barker

East Yorkshire Reporter

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