Old Skip by John Ward

by John Ward

This is a sequel to Barty, John’s first novel.  John also wrote the non-fiction book Beetroot for Breakfast: Tales from the Land Girls of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.  Available on this website.

This book is the story of a young lad born in Suffolk who after leaving the workhouse found casual work in the slums of London, served in the Army Veterinary Corps during WW1 and when demobbed eventually became a successful boat owner, running his own business.

Barty’s success was mainly due to an old boatman who befriended him when he was almost penniless in 1918.  Taken on the ‘Ellie May’ as a labouring deckhand he and Skipper became great friends and Donald McLean (Old Skip, born 1850) taught him many things about making a living from the sea – both legal and illegal.

Barty’s story continues in this second book which looks back respectively at some of the Old Skip’s adventures prior to his death in 1925. A popular figure along the coasts of East Anglia and the West Country receiving the ultimate reflection of his popularity along these coasts with the erection of a sculptured statue as an everlasting memorial.


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