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This profile was last updated on 5/22/06  and contains information from public web pages.
 
Background

Employment History

  • Chairman
    Pooleand District Fisherman's Association
  • Commissioner
    Poole Harbour
  • Dorset Life
Web References
Dorset Lives - Brian ...
www.dorsetlife.co.uk, 22 May 2006 [cached]
Dorset Lives - Brian MullinsStraightforward and knowledgeable.Brian Mullins has recently retired after 25 years as a Poole Harbour Commissioner.
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Brian Mullins, Dorset lives
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Brian Mullins at work
Dorset lives, Brian Mullins
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Brian is a Pooleman born and bred and still lives round the corner from his childhood home in Parkstone.His father was a carpenter and joiner and Brian followed him into that trade but, because his interest in the sea was beginning to grow, he was apprenticed as a ship's joiner to R A Newman's boatyard - ‘all wood, no fibreglass in those days,' as he now points out.
When National Service loomed, all the other young boat-builders around the Harbour were sent to the Isle of Wightto use their expertise for the Navy. ‘So I thought I knew what to expect when the envelope came through the door,' Brian recalls. ‘I was really shocked when the letter told me to report to Winchester to join the Hampshire Regiment!'
Two years in Germanywas the result, followed by a further short spell with Newmans and a year working with his father, who by now was employing seven people.Brian continued to go out with the fishermen whenever he could, though, and in the end decided that this was where he wanted his future to be.He got a job with Ron Stephens of the famous Poole fishing family and was with him for 4½ years until Ron sold his boat.Brian was keen to buy it, ‘but my father was a strong believer that you should never buy anything if you can't afford it and I couldn't, so I didn't.'
He was determined, though, to go on his own and, supported by his new wife, Vera, he bought an 18-foot boat called Smiling Through.In this he worked mainly in the Harbour, cockling and trawling at night for plaice and sole. ‘There were fewer yacht moorings then, and more fish,' he says.In time he was able to move up a size to a Pooleyawl, Jewel, which he had for 18 years, using her in the Harbour and out in PooleBayboth for trawling and for setting lobster pots.
Dorset lives, Brian Mullins
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Brian usually fishes single-handed but for 8½ years he would be joined for breakfast on every trip down the harbour by a one-legged seagull which he first saw with fishing gut wrapped round its legs.It would come to the Elizabeth Shaun and wait to be fed, even if she had been laid up for a time.
In his heyday Brian would be fishing as many as 160 pots on ‘strings' with up to 16 pots on each string.Every six fathoms along the string there is a rope going off with a pot at the end of it, usually in about eight fathoms of water.The string is hauled in by a winch and brings the pots with it.Brian still makes most of his own pots.All his catch is sold to Greenslades, the fish wholesaler, and much of the shellfish now goes abroad.
Brian has seen many changes in the fishing industry.For a long time his boat did not even have a radio. ‘I was going to get one some time but kept putting it off,' he remembers, ‘then a fisherman lost his life on Christchurch Ledge but would have been saved if he'd had a radio, so that was when I got one.' Global positioning by satellite and video-sounders have also made the fisherman's job less dangerous and difficult than it used to be, but the other side of the coin is the increase in regulations and licences.
In 1978, the Pooleand District Fisherman's Association elected Brian as its Chairman, a post he filled with distinction for ten years.He was the leader of the 80 or so full-time fishermen (and almost as many seasonal fishermen) who work out of Poole and whose boats range from ‘canoes', which are actually small, flat-bottomed craft, to large trawlers.One of Brian's proudest possessions is the cormorant, modelled in clay from PooleHarbour, which the Association presented to him when he left the Chair.It was joined recently by a model of a curlew presented by the Poole Harbour Commissioners on his retirement.
Fred Wills, from another old Poolefishing family, was the representative of the fishermen on the Commissioners and when he stood down, also in 1978, Brian was appointed by the Ministry of Transport to take his place.Over the last 25 years he has looked after the fishermen's interests but has served the Commissioners, the Harbour and the town on a much wider front. ‘It has been a great honour to be a Commissioner,' he says modestly, ‘and nice to help run a trust port, where the profits are ploughed back for the benefit of everyone who uses the Harbour.'
There have been sad times during Brian's service, such as when the Channel Island ferry business was lost and redundancies had to be made, but this generation of Commissioners will leave the lasting legacy of the Dolphin Boat Haven.As well as providing better moorings for recreational yachtsmen, the haven was needed to replace the old fishermen's dock which was under pressure for space as boats got bigger. ‘People have said that yachtsmen and fishermen don't go together but Poole has proved that they can,' says Brian, modestly omitting to mention that he played a large part in building bridges between the two groups or that he was in the forefront of the fight for a grant from MAFF (now DEFRA) for the new fishermen's dock.He does allow quiet satisfaction to creep into his voice as he says, ‘The next generation of fishermen and charter skippers will benefit, that's the important thing.'
Dorset lives, Brian MullinsBrian and Vera Mullins recently had the deserved honour of being invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party
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Brian represented the Commissioners on the British Ports Association and was the only working fisherman on its Fishing Committee.He says that he learned a lot from visiting other ports, experience which he was able to apply to the Commissioners' work in Poole.
The churchof St Jamesin Pooleis known as ‘the fishermen's church', so it is appropriate that Brian has been a Churchwarden there for the last 16 years.He and Vera were married there, she having been born and bred in Pooleas well.One of the jobs which Brian undertakes for the church is maintaining the bells.He had been doing it for years when he was told that for safety reasons he must no longer go up into the bell-chamber alone.The first time he went up with someone else, his companion dropped an adjustable spanner on his head!At the next meeting of the Commissioners, the Chairman presented him with a hard hat and said that he hadn't realised bell-ringing was so dangerous!
The first time that Brian Mullins attended a meeting of the Poole Harbour Commissioners, the only person he knew was the harbourmaster and the Chairman was the formidable Major Ryder.He mentioned to a fellow-Commissioner that Fred Wills was a hard act to follow.Came the reply, ‘Don't follow anyone, just be yourself.' Brian has been living that advice ever since and Pooleand its Harbour are the better for it.
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