BBC Radio 4 Programme about the ‘Pill Hobblers’; tidal river boatmen of Bristol-

BBC Radio 4 Open Country: The Pill Hobblers

Should be listenable to on-line for some months – but maybe only in the UK

“For this week’s Open Country Helen Mark explores the fascinating world of the Pill Hobblers – the ‘boat men’ who for centuries have risked their lives to keep ships safe on the River Avon.

The Pill Hobblers are known to have existed from at least the 17th centuary and still provide the linesmen who handle the lines for all shipping coming through the locks and onto the quaysides at Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Docks. Alongside the ‘Pill Pilots’ (the skilled navigators who guided ships through the waters) the Hobblers of today still work much as they did hundreds or years ago, working the ropes to secure and release ships into the Bristol Channel.

The Hobblers are still required to live in Pill – the small North Somerset Village that generations of Hobblers have come from – to ensure swift access to the nearby docks so that they can be on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to tend to the ships just as they always have been.

Whilst visiting the village of Pill itself and The Royal Portbury Docks, Helen meets with Hobblers and Pilots – past and present – to hear how generations of local men have kept ships sailing – and trade flowing – safely into the 21st Century, come rain or shine.”

Presented by Helen Mark. Produced by Nicola Humphries.

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