Echo Memories looks at the work of the Reverend George Bramwell Evens - better known as The Tramp - whose wanderings took him to Whitby, and of Herbert Leslie Gee, who 'painted' portraits in words.

SOME of this column's readers of a certain age will remember fondly the voice and observational skills of the Reverend George Bramwell Evens, although they would have known him better as his alter ego, the BBC wireless broadcaster Romany, sometimes called The Tramp.

In the early years of the BBC's Children's Hour, Romany the gipsy became an evergreen favourite of hundreds of thousands of children.

In Out with Romany, he travelled pre-Second World War England's unclogged country lanes in his caravan - his vardo as it was called - pulled by his horse Comma and accompanied by his spaniel, Raq, and his young friends, Muriel and Doris.

Unbelievably, only one of these now-legendary broadcasts survives - the edition transmitted in October 1943, only a month before Evens' death.

George Evens really was born in a gipsy caravan in 1884, his mother being a true Romany, and, as well as broadcasting and running his ministries in Cumbria and Yorkshire, he was also an immensely popular writer and photographer, generating dozens of countryside books.

When he could no longer write, and then after his death, Romany's son and wife produced the books and, in 1949, one of his closest friends, Herbert Leslie Gee, wrote The Spirit of Romany.

Gee was also a popular and prolific writer, some would say one of the unsung greats, a master wordsmith, one of his favourite topics being the people and places of Yorkshire and particularly its coast, of which he writes with tremendous empathy, as in this piece from 1928.

In holiday towns such as Whitby he spends much of his time in piloting visitors over the blue and shining waters. He may run a few miles out to sea and occasionally he will sail out of sight of land.

Then Gee, the master of contrast, shows the other side of the fisherman's lot.

When autumn heralds the approach of winter the scene is changed and life becomes a mighty drama. Nevertheless, a new beauty is born in the hollows of the waves; a beauty not unmixed with grandeur and a certain ominous solemnity undreamed of during brighter days.

The music remains but a strange melancholy creeps into it as if wind and wave were playing their own version of Chanson Triste. The long breakers roll majestically shorewards and their sullen roar is magnified by cliff and cave.

Moreover, the very nature of the sea seems changed.

Alluring as always, it mingles malevolence with captivating loveliness. At one moment it smiles innocently, at the next it frowns angrily but only those who go down to the sea in ships realise how callous, how cruel, how wickedly-intentioned are the wide wastes of grey waters.

These are, beyond doubt, the words of an artist who is such a master of his medium that he needs neither brush, paint nor canvas to create the images he seeks to convey, and rarely does it better than in this pen portrait of the Yorkshire fisherman of 80 years ago and his relationship with the sea.

He is not always sailing through silvered waters. During the greater part of the year he must run into the wind's eye and steal an honest living from the grudging sea. He must watch the weather from hour to hour and rush seawards at a venture whenever Neptune is looking the other way.

There are innumerable dangers encompassing the fisherman. He knows it full well yet he faces them bravely and cheerfully, even carelessly, for the age-long enmity between the sea and his own kindred has bred in him a sturdy strength, a determined spirit and an unequalled courage. The greatest romance of the Yorkshire coast is to be found in the struggle between man and the sea and that struggle has given rise to some of the noblest heroism, most daring adventure and splendid acts of sacrifice that men have ever witnessed or God recorded.

Gee must have spent a great deal of time in Yorkshire to have known and understood the county so well and to have been able to write so prolifically and with such emotion about the area.

The fisherman is born not made and no amount of training will change the essential nature of a landsman's legs nor create in him that faculty foe seamanship which is a part of the fisherman's character.

It is not simply that the typical Yorkshire fisherman is tough, well-knit, strong-armed, roughhanded and wind and weatherproof; not merely that he wears stiff blue trousers with capacious fore-pockets, a thick woollen jersey and a tightly-fitting cap, slightly on one side, for these things might be acquired by any man.

But to the true fisherman, born and bred within sight and sound of the sea, belongs that peculiar weather lore, that unique dexterity of hand and thumb which enables him to bait a line and tie a knot as no amateur can do it.

His is an understanding of ships and tides, of fisheries and ocean currents, of beliefs and superstitions far beyond the comprehension of those who have but an imperfect knowledge of his profession.

Besides, he is not only the son of fisher-parents but usually the heir to the accumulated knowledge and ability of generations.

Gee cautioned against judging the fisherman on first encounter.

There are some who imagine that his work consists in nothing more than steering out to sea, trailing his lines and returning home. They would be astonished by a peep behind the scenes.

They would find that the fisherman's task includes the boiling, stretching, tarring and coiling of thousands of yards of 'snooding', the baiting of hundreds of hooks and the cracking of great heaps of whelks.

They would discover that he has to know a dozen trades, that he must spend tedious hours in mending broken nets and splicing ropes and cleaning his boat and handling and packing wet fish when the day is freezingly cold and the wind like a razor edge. His task is anything but enviable when the tumbling sea rocks the boats with a short, uncertain motion and the biting spray eats its way into the raw flesh of chapped hands and wrists until they sting as if they had been dipped into boiling lead.

As a community, they do not shine in modern drawing room life for they are made for the world of sea and wind but once thoroughly known they lose much of their habitual reserve and show a surprising courtesy, a kind consideration and a gentleness which does not always appear on the surface.

H L Gee preserved in his writings much of the folklore of the Yorkshire coast and was not afraid to venture into its darker side, that occupied by ghosts and strange beliefs. Fisherfolk were notoriously superstitious.

"If the sea birds fly high the price of bread is sure to rise."

Even today, there are fishermen who will never whistle at sea and in the Twenties, many still followed the custom of placing a coin near the boat's mast before putting to sea as a sign that he was willing to pay for the fish he caught if Neptune desired him to do so. Gee relates the story of Whitby's Death Coach on the Cliff Top.

Death is a mystery to the wisest of us, but to the fishermen of earlier days it was doubly strange.

Innumerable superstitions have been woven about it. Some believed it best to die as the tide went out, others that the man was cursed who died at full moon; and, again, the ghosts of the departed were frequently supposed to roam about their homes or walk upon the waters, especially in foggy weather, and even direct a ship's prow, steering it either to safety or destruction.

Amongst these beliefs, that of the phantom coach seen in Whitby is, perhaps, the most remarkable. At one time, it was held to be true that whenever a fisherman or seaman of the town was buried, a barghest (ghostly) coach appeared on the night following the funeral.

It was, indeed, a dreadful and hair-raising spectacle, for the coach was drawn by six coalblack horses, accompanied by two outriders robed in black and bearing blazing torches, from which the wind snatched away the flying sparks and sent them trailing far behind. The driver, also blacked-robed, hid his face that none might see; and, starting from Green Lane, he drove at a furious speed to the churchyard.

There, a company of mourners tramped silently round and round the newlymade grave until the dead man clambered out and followed them into the church.

And after that, upon the stroke of midnight, the whole company, including the dead man, came out of the dark interior and tumbled into the phantom coach which, at a word from the mysterious driver, leaped madly forward, thundered pell-mell down the narrow streets, lurched madly round sharp corners, its terrific speed increasing all the time until it plunged over the cliff and was lost to view.

As are we - but only until next week.