Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

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Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by Currie » Tue Mar 02, 2021 1:01 pm

Dundee Courier, Thursday, June 23, 1870.

STRANGE FREAK OF FISHER GIRLS.—Yesterday morning, while a number of young men were enjoying “the luxury of a bathe” at Broughty Ferry, they were subjected to annoyance from rather a strange quarter. A number of fisherwomen, returning to Broughty Ferry from gathering bait, were passing the clothes of the bathers, when they lifted two shirts with which they pretended to make off. The gentlemen in the water submitted to this joke as patiently as possible, but the marauders having returned in order to carry off further spoils from the shirtless bathers, the whole party, numbering about a dozen, got out of the water as quickly as possible, and, in a state of nudity, gave chase to the fisherwomen, who rushed from the beach, screaming madly, and dropping the shirts they had lifted. The women were seen at a distance obviously enjoying their own joke very much.

Dundee Courier, Friday, June 24, 1870.


Sir,—On taking up your issue of this morning, a paragraph with the above title attracted my attention. Imagine my surprise to find on reading it that I had about half an hour previously been subjected to the same annoyance. As a number of fisherwomen, who were taking home “ bait,” passed my clothes, one of them lifted my shirt and carried it along the sands to a considerable distance. When she found, however, that like my “brethren in adversity” whose adventures you recount, I did not give chase, but “coolly” remained in the water, she dropped it, and a young lad who was at hand recovered it for me. Now such an annoyance as this ought to he at once stopped; and I think it is the duty of our Commissioners to have it put down. I therefore trust they will see to the matter, for otherwise how can we keep their bye-laws? Cannot Mr Black, who takes an interest in this particular thing, do something for us?—Yours, &c., A BATHER.
Broughty Ferry, 23d June, 1870.

Dundee Courier, Tuesday, June 28, 1870.


Sir,— I see that some of your correspondents felt bad at having practical jokes played upon them by the baiter girls of Broughty; but they may bless their stars they got off so easily. Such “freaks,” as you are pleased to call them, are not quite new in that part of the Queen’s dominions, and by that most interesting portion of her subjects, the Broughty baiters. The writer had occasion some time ago to travel between Broughty Ferry and Monifieth, and while walking along the beach the baiters had just come ashore with their bait, and were marching along towards the Ferry in regimental order with their little tubs on their heads and wooden spades in their hands, ready for any sport that might turn up at the same time. About midway between the Castle and the Black Rocks an unlucky wight was enjoying a comfortable bath, but seeing the squad approaching, he seemed to be at a loss whether to remain in or come out of the water; and no doubt thinking he would have time before they came up to have at least some of his clothes on, he chose the latter course. But the old proverb says—“The more haste the less speed,” and so it fared with him.

Whether he got nervous at their near approach, or that his shirt had been turned partly inside out in taking it off, I could not say; but no shirt could he get on. And you can easily suppose the situation of the poor fellow standing there trembling and shaking in Mother Nature's first dress, all except the head, with ten or twelve of these hempes all round him in a circle, while he stood throwing his arms round his head trying to find his way into his shirt, but it was no go, his tormentors all the time calling out, “Od, man, put on your sark, will you?” “l’m sure ye micht put on your sark.” “Losh, man what way will you no put on your sark?” There was nothing for him but just to squat down Indian fashion, and gather his clothes around him as best he could, and wait until they thought fit to move on, which they were in no haste to do as they seemed to enjoy the freak amazingly That is only one case out of many that came under my own observation, but after what has been said on the subject the authorities of Broughty Ferry will make it plainly understood by all concerned that these vulgarisms will be allowed no longer to be played off with impunity.—l am &c., R. T.
June 25, 1870.

Hope that tickled your fancy,

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by WilmaM » Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:58 pm

Well now, pays to wear dookers evidently :oops:

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by garibaldired » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:18 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: =D> =D> =D>

Where do you find them, Alan?!


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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by SarahND » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:21 am

Brilliant!!! Thanks for starting my day off with a laugh :lol: :lol: [scotland-flag]

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by Currie » Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:37 am

Thanks Wilma, Meg, and Sarah.

Meg, as quite often happens, I found the article while looking for something else and put it aside for later.

And Wilma, dookers was a new word for me. Down here, when I was a boy, I think we called them togs. It’s been a while, I don’t know what they call them now.

Back in the days when any form of swimwear was considered indecent the only way to respectably enter the water was under cover. Hence the bathing machine, a coach pulled by at least one horse, took you to the waters edge. On Broughty Ferry beach it seems the only legal way to bathe without using such a contrivance was if you went “far east”.

Broughty ferry had their bathing coaches until 1925 when Dundee Town Council was informed that they were “out of date”. They were replaced by portable bathing tents which were “easily handled by one individual”. Maybe by then the horses had been retired. I did find a 1910 article about bathing machines without wheels adorning Broughty Ferry beach in summer

Dundee Courier, Tuesday, July 6, 1869


SIR,—One party having the sole monopoly of supplying bathing coaches for the benefit of bathers, and as there are new restrictions (or bye-laws) preventing parties bathing without coaches “unless they go far east, which is neither convenient or safe,“ I think the proprietor should pay a little more attention to those who patronise him. I have been twice with the intention of bathing within these last five days. The first morning no party in attendance, the horse standing beside one of the coaches. After waiting a quarter of an hour, I went home without my morning dip. This morning at 8.50 a young girl was in attendance. I asked where the man was? I suppose he had gone to his breakfast. Both times I went it was nearly high water. I have heard several parties complaining. Surely the proprietor should be compelled to keep a man to take charge three hours before and three hours after high water, weather, &c., permitting. Your insertion of this will much oblige,
Links Place, Broughty Ferry.

Dundee Courier, Friday, July 9, 1869


SIR,—“A Constant Bather” charges me with neglect of duty in the “Courier.” Allow me in reply to state that since the commencement of the bathing season I have not been absent more than fifteen minutes from the coaches at one time of any one day. A constant bather may have been at the coaches at the time specified, but if he means to state that he waited longer than fifteen minutes he states fiction not fact. I am at all times ready to attend to my patrons, but at low water, even a constant bather must allow that I am entitled to fifteen minutes in which to take my meals.—I am, &c., W. PHILIP.
Broughty Ferry, July 6, 1869.

Dundee Courier, Friday, August 19, 1870


SIR.—There seems to be a war waging just now between the women-haters and the champions of women as to which of the sexes displays most boldness and familiarity with the opposite sex on the beach at Broughty Ferry. A most pitiful argument has been got up to show, on the one side, that the males are the greatest law-breakers, and on the other that the females deserve that unenviable designation. It strikes me, sir, that it is those who are most given to complaining and making a fuss about such things who look most eagerly for them, and who are secretly most tickled and gratified by them. A lady once congratulated Dr Johnson on his having excluded all indecent words from his dictionary. “Madam,” said the great lexicographer, “your remark shows me you have been searching for such words.” Now, I imagine the correspondents who peep from behind windows, and who manage to get a squint, after much exertion, of the men who come from the bathing coaches “without drawers,” and the other class of male complainers who feel so awfully annoyed at ladies watching them, very much resemble the lady who discovered that Johnson’s Dictionary was quite free of objectionable words.

While no wise man or woman would wish to see any privilege abused, nor encourage the least approach to indecency, still less could they wish to magnify a wholesome liberty into a prurient occasion of evil. Let it be remembered that where the beach is so limited as it is at Brought Ferry, and where so many want accommodation, a good deal must be put up with that might not be necessary otherwise. It is possible, I should think, for ladies and gentlemen both to bathe, and for them both to take their walks on the sands without hurting the feelings of any real gentlemen. I am told some snob gravely proposed to collect and publish names. I only wish that a number of strong-minded women should get hold of him and give him such a sousing in the water (he having on drawers, of course!) as would make him speak more charitably of the fair sex than he has just been doing.—I am, &c.,COMMON SENSE.

Dundee Courier, Tuesday, May 26, 1925

Council to Purchase Ten.
Portable bathing tents are to be introduced on the sands at Broughty Ferry this summer in place of the usual wooden coaches.
The question was discussed at a meeting of the Markets and Baths Committee of Dundee Town Council last night. The special committee appointed to consider the matter suggested that six portable bathing tents be obtained instead of coaches at a total cost of £12, the tents to be under the charge of the man who looks after the deck chairs on the sands.
Mr George A. Greig, the convener, pointed out that inquiries had been made at various seaside resorts, and the replies showed that bathing coaches were out of date, and tents were being adopted. They were easily handled by one individual. They cost only £2 each, while it was estimated it would take £10 to put the present bathing coaches in a state of repair.

These two fair bathers, snapped on the diving stage at Broughty Ferry in 1921, evidently don’t give a hoot about any of the above.

Dundee Courier, Wednesday, July 20, 1921

These two fair bathers, snapped on the diving stage at Broughty Ferry, evidently think so at anyrate. Visitors to the Ferry are getting real “dookers” this year and all day long there are merry crowds in the water.

And when summer passes, and the temperature drops, and the reasonably sane have taken up other pastimes, that’s when The Ancients come out to play.

Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Friday, January 2, 1903

“A Broughty Ferry Dooker” sends me the following note:—|

Dare to be a dooker, dare to dive alone.
Dare to take a header from the Ancients’ throne.
On this New Year's morn do not be a funker;
Face the Kingdom's shore, and take the cold, cold plunker,

Three Ancients assembled at 8 A.M. in Ye Bunk. The Chief Ancient and a junior stripped, and quickly plunged into the waters of the Tay. Temperature was 38 deg., while the air was 28 deg. A Granton all-the-year round bather accompanied the Ancients in their dip. Shortie was served to the hardy ones as a shivering bite.

Hope that was educational,

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by WilmaM » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:14 pm

Always called 'Dookers' in this household - but I believe it's a Moray Firth expression we've picked up from holidaying up there.
Shortie was served to the hardy ones as a shivering bite.
We always had a Chittery Bite after going to the Swimming Baths, I hadn't heard anyone else use the expression.

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by Currie » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:02 am

Hello Wilma,

I had a look for both those bites and this long forgotten poem emerged from the dusty pages of the Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, September 2, 1885.


Oh, wha amang Auld Killie’s sons
Can e’er forget the day
When first he strippit on the beach
To gambol 'mid the spray.
When tumbling on the yellow sands
The breakers they foamed white,
And like a savage naked he ran,
And ate The Shivering Bite.

As cauld and caller blew the win’
Upon our bodies stark,
As while we weary watched the tide,
And warsled in our sark;
When chitter chatter went our teeth
And jaws began to fight,
What did mak' freenship with them a’
But that wee Shivering Bite.

Nae morsel ‘twas to brag aboot,
Twas just some beans and peas,
A simple bit o’ mashlam scone,
A wee bit whang o' cheese.
But yet when plenty reamed before,
Dull was oor appetite—
We sherped it up wi’ memories dear,
O’ that wee Shivering Bite.

As for Chittery Bite, all I found was one reference, much later, and it was a “Please do not feed the patients” complaint.

Aberdeen Journal, Thursday, November 23, 1950

SIR.— In the B.M.A. list of hospital needs submitted to the Secretary of State, the need for dainty meals is stressed.
That there is great scope for improvement in this line in many hospitals goes without saying, but I would suggest that the first essential for appreciation of a meal is appetite. and appetite is not best served by nibbles from the patient’s locker.
Until some form of control is exercised over the staggering amount of food—and the amount is staggering — carried in by patients’ friends and relatives I contend that even a good and wholesome meal will not appeal.
A patient who has had a “chittery bite” of two slices of bread with fried egg and bacon in it cannot hope to cope with the meal supplied by the hospital, and when there is less food taken into hospital there will be less carried out in the swill bucket.—Catering Officer, North of Scotland.

All the best,

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Re: Strange Freak Of Fisher Girls.

Post by WilmaM » Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:18 am

Interesting as always Alan,
My mother was a nurse who trained in Glasgow - so the last bit all adds up.

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