Meet one of Grimsby’s last-remaining active fishermen and step on board his boat
4th July 2017
Casting his weary eyes over the sparse setting of Grimsby Fish Docks, the face of jovial fisherman, Darren Kenyon, crumples into a frown.
"When I look around it's depressing - absolutely depressing. When you look at the current situation, you have all of these buildings being knocked down and no one investing any money into the jobs," he says.
It's a particularly grey morning on the dock's North Quay and Darren and his crew are giving their vessel, Sweetwaters, a deep clean after another busy week out at sea.
Darren, 49, is among the last-remaining active Grimsby fishermen in the town.
Demonstrating the resilience of a barnacle stuck fast to an old shipwreck, Darren and his family still make a living on the Fish Docks where countless others have lost theirs.
Alongside his wife Jenny Kenyon, 46, and 23-year-old son Josh, the family's business - Fastline Shellfish Ltd - also manages to provide livelihood to around a dozen others.
In a location which has seen some of the most drastic industrial change in the county over the past 40 years, few have witnessed that change more explicitly than Darren has; his plot on the North Quay lies just a few yards away from the bases of Dong Energy and E.ON's Humber Gateway Offshore Windfarm.
And in a week when Prime Minister Theresa May outlined her plans for Brexit at a summit in Brussels, yet more change could soon be on the horizon.
Ever since the EU referendum was called by David Cameron, local politicians have pricked the ears of town's ex-fisherman over suggestions that the town's glorious fishing heydays could somehow return after Brexit.
Darren remains doubtful.
"I don't know - it depends on the what deal we get compared to the current fishing rules if we stayed in," he says, stood alongside his beloved Sweetwaters.
"To be honest I don't think much is going to change. There are 11 French trawlers out there and we have got rid of all of ours."
While much uncertainty still remains, Darren and his hardworking crew are concentrating on what they do best - filling their crates full of freshly caught shellfish.
Depending on the tides, they will set off in Sweetwaters sometime during the early hours each morning, except on Fridays.
They steer the 10 metre vessell around 30 miles off the coast and get to work.
"We're out for between 14 and 16 hours a day," Darren explains.
"When it's winter we have to fish further out when the water's cold and we fish nearer the shore in the summer. Obviously we'd prefer it if it was the other way around!
"I've got my son on board now because I'm getting knackered. I'm getting too old for bouncing around.
"It really takes it out on your knees. You don't realise how much it takes it out of you and I'm getting tired now."
Inside Sweetwaters, the small crew have a number of bunk beds tucked away in an alcove at the front of the boat.
There's also a store for the day's catch, as well as a relatively humble cockpit complete with a traditional ship's wheel.
The Kenyon family acquired Sweetwaters a couple of years before Darren's father, James Kenyon, retired from the industry.
"He used to be on the big trawlers where he used to go away for 28 days then he started going on the smaller boats," Darren remembers.
"We got Sweetwaters when he was getting old. He's been retired eight years and he's in his 70s now but he's still fit.
"He is a bit stern like they all are from back then but he is obviously very proud. It's not an easy job. You have everything against you."
He adds: "I was brought up on Fairmont Road in Grimsby and I was 13 when I started (working in the fishing industry). I didn't get far in education but I didn't really need it to do what I do.
"I did absolutely nothing and didn't even do an exam but there are lots of people who left school in that position in those days."
In an effort to ensure the business remains in family, Darren's son Josh has taken up the role as skipper after he was awarded his skipper's ticket.
Across the road, in the Fastline Shellfish Ltd shop on the North Quay, Darren's wife Jenny is hard at work selling the latest catch to a steady stream of customers.
"In here we sell all your typical shellfish, like crabs, lobsters and whelks. My husband has got that many pots he can fish anywhere," she says.
"This is the only specialist shellfish place left on the docks. It used to be dead busy here on the docks but there's not that many fishing boats out there now."
In order to stay afloat, Fastline Shellfish Ltd not only sells produce to customers who come into the shop, but also to shops all over the country.
"It can be quiet but we're still here because we've got the demand for it," she adds.
Back outside, Darren is busy with the crew, making sure Sweetwaters is in ship shape and ready to set sail again on Sunday.
It's routine Darren is thankful to remain in, even if his knees are starting to go.
"It's a tough life but I love it," he says with a smile.
News Courtesy: www.humberbusiness.com