Grimsby fisherman Alwyn Call was jailed for piracy
- 23 November 2011
- From the section Humberside
With his steel rimmed spectacles and flat cap, Alwyn Call does not cut a likely figure as a pirate.
But do not be deceived by appearances - Mr Call received notoriety when he became what was believed to be the first person in about 200 years to be convicted of piracy charges.
Together with four other Grimsby fishermen, he took over a trawler for more than 24 hours.
At the time, Mr Call - whose nickname is Olly - described the caper as little more than drunken high spirits.
But the judge at the 1966 trial actually said Mr Call and his pals were lucky not to face the death penalty.
Of course, that was a different age and now "Olly" is reliving the time by telling his story in Grimsby as part of an oral history project.
Mr Call, now 71 and the last surviving member of the pirates, was one of the crew of the Loveden who had been drinking on board for some time.
He recalls: "We took beer and wine and rum with us, and carried on drinking.
"Of course in high spirits we all sat in the mess room... and I just said: 'Shall we take this ship over?'
"And jokingly another crew member went: 'Yeah shall we?' It was all jokingly.
"We went on the bridge and in the skipper's berth and said: 'We've got bad news for you, skipper - we're taking the ship over.'
"He said: 'Oh don't be daft lads' so we tied him up and then went down and tied the mate up and the cook, and carried on with the drinking."
An account of the piracy, published in The Times on July 13, 1966, quotes the skipper: "We were six hours out of Grimsby when the mate, myself and the cook were seized by five men, bound and locked up. The men took a boat and started to row towards the German coast. After they had left we were released by the engineer."
According to The Times, the trawler then sent out an SOS message and was found off the German coast on 10 July, 1966.
Mr Call, who was 26 at the time, served five years in jail. One man was released without charge and the other men were given sentences of five, three and two years.
Mr Call said it was not until they sobered up that they realised the gravity of their situation: "It came to us later what we'd actually done and there was no turning back. It was only after we got caught that we realised how serious it was."
Now a respected skipper, Mr Call said he would not consider himself to be a pirate.
"People have joked for the last 40 years about it - the only person who didn't see it as a joke was the judge because he wouldn't accept that it was a drunken escapade."
He said his family were among the victims of the prank.
"When that May Day went out, and then silence - my mother, my brothers, they were all: 'What's happened to Alwyn?'
"It wasn't a nice thing to do - [I'm] full of regrets, full of regrets."
North East Lincolnshire Council, Young's Seafood, the Fishmerchant's Association and Grimsby Fishing Vessel Owners' Association provided funding for the oral history interviews with Mr Call.
Librarian Jenny Mooney said as well as the recording they were hoping to produce a booklet with photos and newspaper cuttings.
"We'll have a lasting legacy of Olly's story... It's very unusual," she said.
"The local history library has an awful lot of information about the fishing industry but I've never ever come across a story about piracy.
"To have the last pirate here in Grimsby is absolutely unique - it's a real catch for us."