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After many years of saying, "someone should write about the characters and life around the 'Bottom End' of Scarborough," in 1992 Fred began writing. Dorothy had found a brochure in the local library advertising a writing course in West Yorkshire (The Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank in Heptonstall) and challenged him to "get on with it."

Fred's first work on the course was a series of humorous anecdotes, varying in length, telling of the fishermen, the highs and lows in the community and of his of own exploits around Scarborough Harbour in the days of his youth.

On a subsequent visit to Lumb Bank the following year, and on meeting author, Nicholas Royle, Fred was encouraged to re-work his short stories into book form.

In 1998 at Nicholas's suggestion, Fred submitted a manuscript, 'Fishy Tales', to 'Neon Lit', a book of short stories by unpublished authors. Fred's contribution was published and chosen as the 1998 winner of the 'Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize’ of £500.

Fred's first book, 'First of the Flood', was eventually published in 2002 with excellent reviews and to-date has sold in excess of 12000 copies.

Following the success of his first book, Fred subsequently penned:

  • 'Slack Water' (2004),
  • 'The Tide Turns' (2006),
  • 'Ebbing Tide' (2010)

All have received very favourable reviews and have sold well throughout the UK and Ireland.

This latest volume brings to a close Fred’s fishing and sailing career.

low water

Low Water

This, the fifth and final volume of life at sea and on shore takes the story to the noughties. Earlier volumes roughly followed the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Sadly, the Yorkshire trawling industry is now in terminal decline following the heady days of earlier decades. There is still humour, mischief, characters, sinking’s and near misses to recall.

The latter part of the book relates to a whole new life at sea, sailing on tall ships, meeting more characters, making many new friends and finding a wonderful, life-changing, existence, previously undreamt of.

ebbing tide

Ebbing Tide

‘Ebbing Tide’ the fourth volume in Fred Normandale’s tide series tells of big catches of fish, freezing conditions, lost vessels and men and of a hurricane at sea.

There are tales of the hardworking, hard drinking characters that fished from the Yorkshire ports of Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington in the 80s. Fred also tells of diversifying to work in a fast vessel, working with pots for crab and giant lobsters, fishing offshore from the Humber. He tells of diving the wrecks in this region both for pleasure and to recover lost gear.

Sadly, in this volume the author also relates how, over thirty years, the UK fishing industry has been decimated by year on year cuts in quotas, several rounds of decommissioning and of effort limitations. Fred lists the skippers and boats from the 1980s and 90s, contrasting with today’s few remaining vessels. The book tells of fishermen being forced to land ‘black fish’ and break the law to survive. Those optimistic enough to hang in, believing things would get better are still waiting.

the tide turns

The Tide Turns

The Tide TurnsThe fishing industry in the North Sea has changed dramatically over the years, though none more so than the decades between 1960 and 1990. The characters and battle with the elements remain the same, though technology has brought greater catching capability and comfort

This book, the third of the series, tells of a new vessel, Independence FR 196, storms, wrecks and salvage, strange catches and life at sea and ashore in the late 1970s and early 80s. The emphasis again is on humour, including a surprise stripper for the pub landlord’s birthday..


slack water

Slack Water

Following the success of ‘First of the Flood’, set in the mid to late 1960s, in and around Scarborough Harbour in the heart of the Yorkshire Coast, the author, son of a fisherman, now continues the tale into the1970s.

In his first book he introduced some of the many ‘larger than life’ characters and related the way of life in the fishing community when he first went to sea. Now he’s become a skipper and introduces more of the inhabitants of the ‘Bottom End’. Fred also relates some of the poignant, dangerous and hilarious happenings at sea and ashore during this period, firstly aboard the chartered, ‘Pioneer’LH 397 then his first owned vessel, the twenty-five year old, 54’ trawler, ‘Courage’ SH 63.

The way of life has passed into history now but ‘Slack Water’ brings alive the characters who inhabited the harbour and ‘old town’. The emphasis throughout this work is on the humour, which these people found in adversity, in what was an arduous and uncertain profession.

This book concludes when, at the age of twenty-eight, he brings home into Scarborough Harbour his new vessel the 60’ Independence FR 196, a state-of-the-art craft from her Scottish builders.

first of the flood

First of the Flood

Fred Normandale grew up in the 'bottom end' of Scarborough among some wonderful characters, big men with big hearts. Humour could be found constantly, even in adversity.

The fishermen were extremely hard working and when ashore, mostly hard drinking, though never mixing the two pursuits. Fred thought this was a normal background; that everyone lived in a world such as his. He couldn't have been more wrong. Life around the harbour was unique.

He records growing up in the 1960s and his burning ambition to be skipper of a fishing boat; something he achieves at the age of twenty-three, following a brief period in the Merchant Navy on leaving school.

The post-war steam trawlers had been scrapped and new synthetic twines, diesel engines and the Decca Navigation System enabled keelboats with small crews to commence trawling.

This was the beginning of a new fishing and the perfect time for a young man to commence his career.