Tales of the Riverman 50

Tales50

It is difficult to illustrate the amount of work Bennie Parsonage undertook during the war years It was not just about recovering bodies from the water, there were rescues, preventions, safety problems, air raid precautions work, indeed the usual multitude of tasks that still befall the Humane Society. War time Glasgow (like all British Cities) had night time “Blackout” which coupled with our notorious fogs caused moving about near waterways to be difficult and even dangerous. There were also persons who having lived through one war did not really wish to live through another, and people who were very lonely with their loved ones being away at the “front” and their children moved to the countryside hopefully “out of harm’s way”

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Tales of the Riverman 49

tales49

Bennie Parsonage spent a lot of time dealing with lifebelts. He would retrieve them from the water and have them returned to empty stances. Bennie would advise the Council and give assistance to the Council worker who walked from Dalmarnock to the City Centre at least twice a week to replace the ‘belts. I have a lovely memory of my Dad sitting with “Bobby,” the lifebelt man, having a bottle of Coca Cola in the boatshed. On an aside, in those days there was no stopping for a cuppa tea or coffee as there was no running water at the boathouse; water (including toilets) did not come during Bennie’s lifetime, Bennie never had the luxury of running water, but that’s another story

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Tales of the Riverman 48

TalesoftheRiverman48

On the 9th February, 1937 Bennie Parsonage received word that a man's clothes had been found at 11.50 pm on the Quay wall at berth 36, Anderston Quay.

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Tales of the Riverman 47

tales47

It was a quiet winter’s day in Glasgow and in Partick Police Office no one really wished to go outside as it was below freezing and there was ice on the ground. A member of the public wanders into the station, a person, well known to the Police for making up stories and at this time of year knew that he could always get a heat in the station while he told his latest tale.

He claimed that he had been out bird watching and had been fighting his way down the banks of the River Kelvin through the bushes and fallen trees towards Kelvingrove Park when he saw two skeletal legs sticking straight up out of the river with shoes on the feet. The tale of the skeleton was interspersed with stories of the various feathered friends he had seen that day. The Officer behind the bar duly filled in a form making a report and saying that someone would look into it as soon as an Officer became available.

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Tales of the Riverman 46

tales46

Continuing the stories of Ben Parsonage who arrived on the Glasgow Green Lifeboat scene 100yrs ago (assistant 1918-1928, Officer 1928-1979)

Some of you will remember the year 1939 One evening Bennie talked to one of our family friends about an unusual rescue he had carried out at the Albert Bridge. Two boys had gone bird’s egg collecting from the nests in the girders below the bridge. The boys were finding difficulty getting back off the bridge and as dusk was coming down, they started to shout for help. Bennie arrived with a policeman in one of his boats and a ladder. The ladder was stood upright from the boat, up against the girders of the bridge, and with the policeman holding it as tightly as he could the bold Ben, carrying a rope over his shoulder climbed up onto the girders. He then crawled along to where the boys were and lowered them down one by one into the boat below. He then returned down the ladder into his boat.

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Tales of the Riverman 45

tales45

Bennie was working down at the boatyard in Glasgow Green when he met Sarah Mulholland. A relationship developed, though the courting seems to have taken place on boats on the river. Rumour had it that Bennie had a nail on the Kings Bridge to hang his jacket on.

With the new house on Glasgow Green being built, Bennie was staying in temporary accommodation in Templeton Street.

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Charity No: SC001178
Location: LIFEBOAT, Glasgow Humane Society, Glasgow Green, Glasgow, G40 1BA
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