An Interesting Story & a Can of Beer

An Interesting Story & a Can of Beer


In November 2021, STAND were approached by Erik Schoning from Norway with a very interesting story and an amazing item of historical interest.

What follows is Erik’s story, some photographs and extracts of the email conversation that ensued between Erik and STAND.

Erik Schoning’s Story

I expect you all to know the history of the deep-sea factory ship Gaul that disappeared in the Barents Sea north of Norway around February 9, 1974. The crew members lost their lives and the wreck was not found till 1997. This accident is often described as “the worst ever single-trawler tragedy”.

The following history is a strange but true history known only by a few.

During the sixties, the seventies and partly the eighties my father, based in Lodingen (northern Norway) was the local agent for trawlers from Hull and Grimsby. His job was to make sure that fresh water, ice, fuel and provisions were delivered according to the skipper’s order. Sometimes he had to take a crewmember to the dentist or doctor. As a young boy and later I often joined him going to the trawler to have a talk with the skipper. My father often got a chocolate, a pack of cigarettes and not so often; a can of beer.

As of January 26, 1974 I was a young student visiting my parents in my home town Lodingen. On this very date Gaul was expected to visit Lodingen. Both my father and I drove to the dock and went on board Gaul. A crew member had some kind of health issues, and we took him to the local doctor. Returning to the trawler we went on board again, talked a little with the skipper who gave us a can of beer (each). Gaul left Lodingen and we drove home.

If I remember correctly, it was a Saturday evening. We arrived at my parent’s house, and I was eager to have my beer that was made in England.

The beer tasted very good; I remember. My father, however, decided that he would save the beer for a special occasion, i.e. for later.

Well, a week or so later we learned that Gaul was missing. My father then decided not to drink his Long Life Beer and stored the can in his bedroom closet. He died 12 years ago and when emptying his house, I found the beer can, yes the 1974 Long Life can unopened.

Today I have his Long Life beer can in my closet and I guard it like it was made of gold, please see pictures. Today, 47 years later, the can is in excellent condition. The beer however; well I don’t want to know.



The handwritten inscription on the base of the can reads:






27 – 28.1.1974




What follows are extracts from the email conversation between Erik & STAND and how the story moves on……………

Dear Erik…….

Your personal story and the can of beer has been of great interest to our Hull fishing heritage charity group – STAND (The St. Andrews Dock Heritage Park Action Group).

As the longest serving fishing heritage group in the City of Hull ,we have connections with the Hull Maritime Museum, The Fishermen’s Mission, the Fisherman’s Church (St. John the Baptist Church) and many associate maritime organisations.

Both our Chairman, Ron Wilkinson and Vice Chairman, Victor Wheeldon are retired ex-trawler Skippers, with over 40 years service between them.

On many occasions they both occasionally picked up pilots at Lodingen when proceeding through the fjords to escape bad weather.

George Petty, mate of the Gaul (who was taken ill) and Maurice Spurgeon (who replaced him) on the fateful trip, were colleagues and ex-shipmates of our two Committee members.

              GAUL H243 (photo Malcolm Fussey)

 We are fascinated and moved by your story and the can of Long Life which was particularly popular with Hull fishermen. By saving the beer, your father has created a piece of social history.

 As I previously explained to you, STAND is a very active Hull fishing heritage group about whom you can read about our group and its charitable work  

A collection of items recovered from the Gaul included  two hatch doors, the vessel’s name plate showing ‘Brooke Marine’ as the builders, the ship’s bell engraved ‘Ranger Castor’,  a navigation light, a fire hose nozzle and a life raft hydro static release mechanism.

                                   TWO HATCH DOORS


              NAVIGATION LIGHT





The fishing communities local place of worship is St. John the Baptist Church which is currently the custodian of the Gaul bell whilst the name plate is displayed in North Shields, the home of a number of those lost on the Gaul.

 The remaining items are in the safe keeping of STAND and are part of a collection of artefacts that are currently stored in our maritime unit. 

These items, amongst many other artefacts, are currently awaiting to be displayed in a new multi million pound state development to Hull’s Maritime area in the city which will include the Maritime Museum, Queens Gardens ( a former city centre dock) and the refurbishment of North End shipyard dry dock to provide a permanent home for the historic trawler ‘Arctic Corsair’. 

A new innovative Visitor Centre is being created which will be situated alongside Hull’s last sidewinder trawler, ‘Arctic Corsair’ which itself is currently being refurbished before being moved to its new location.

STAND is liaising with Hull Museums Service to provide expertise, advice and artefacts for both the new Visitor Centre and the Arctic Corsair, which will be open to public tour once completed.

As we are custodians of recovered items from the Gaul and these will form an important part of the new Hull Museums City Centre Visitor Centre once it is built alongside the Arctic Corsair, please would you give your permission to include the can of beer and your personal story with the other precious Gaul artefacts as part of an overall collection?

We would be delighted for such a poignant story to be accessible to a wide audience and to visitors from far and near who will visit what is being presented as quite an iconic visitor attraction in Hull once it is completed.


Dear STAND……..

I know you will take care of the can and make it and the story that is related to it and Gaul available for visitors and readers of your web-site in a proper manner. 

 For years I have been thinking of visiting Hull and Grimsby. There have been so many reasons for making the trip. Now I have one more.  So when the Covid-19 allows, I might just do that. Hopefully some time during next year.

 Please stay in touch and let me know what’s happening! Thanks.


Dear Erik……..

Rest assured we will take care of the can and, once the new state of the art Visitor Centre is built in Hull, we at STAND will make sure it forms part of the Gaul exhibit along with your poignant story.

Would you be happy to send a photo of yourself and your father to go with your story please?

We will certainly keep in touch and let you know what is happening.


Dear STAND………..

Please see attached photos –                      

My father’s name was: Arnt Schøning. He was born in 1925 and died in 2009. He was a very busy man and had his own company within the transportation industry. In addition he was the agent for trawlers registered in Hull and Grimsby, a job he liked a lot and took care of with enthusiasm and with a smile in his face.



ARNT SCHONING 1925 -2009 : Erik’s Father


                         ERIK SCHONING











                                                                       UNDERWATER SCAN OF THE GAUL ON THE SEABED