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Nautical tributes for Aberdeen trawlerman Johnny Winton

His half-century at sea was honoured by flowers in the shape of his last boat, the Grampian Chieftain.

Man of the sea Johnny Winton.
Man of the sea Johnny Winton.

Aberdeen trawlerman Johnny Winton – latterly of the Grampian Chieftain – has died aged 88.

The former Hilton Academy pupil went to sea for his entire working life, fishing the waters of the North Sea and further afield to Iceland.

Granite city born and bred

John Munro Winton – always known as Johnny, was born on June 7 1935 in Aberdeen.

Son of trawler fisherman William Winton and his wife Margaret, Johnny had two brothers and a sister.


Johnny would work on multiple ships over the years. most notably the Grampian Chieftain.

On leaving Hilton Academy he followed in his father’s footsteps, and by 15 he was going to sea on the same vessel as his dad.

Young love

In his late teens Johnny met Alice Courage Leslie while out dancing at The Argosy in Bucksburn. Introduced by Alice’s brother, Francis, the pair began courting.

Johnny proposed the next year and they married on November 26 1955, joking that an old fishing injury – a winch ripping off his ring finger – saved Alice the cost of a wedding band.

On tying the knot Johnny moved in with Alice and her grandmother in Park Street.

A later move to Provost Rust Drive, into Johnny’s parents’ home, saw the birth of sons Brian and Derek.

Growing family

Needing more room the family relocated again, this time to Fowler Avenue, where their third son Graham was born.

The family still growing, Manor Avenue became the location of their next family home. The family was completed with the birth of daughter Lorraine.

A family man, although tired when he was at home after extended periods of time away at sea, Johnny made sure he was present for his children.

Alice and John Winton celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary at the Transport Club on Canal Road with family.

“Long walks around Persley and visits to castles were favourite pastimes when dad was back,” said Lorraine. “But really he was happiest at home. I think when you’re away all the time, being at home with family is what he looked forward to.”

Over the years Alice and Johnny continued their love of dance, making regular visits to the Beach Ballroom where Johnny’s brylcreemed hair and immaculate attire were a constant.

Beloved granda

Johnny retired from trawler fishing after 51 years, due to ill health.

After 21 years in their family home the couple downsized, eventually settling in North Anderson Drive.

Taking great joy in his garden Johnny shaped his front hedge to look like a castle wall, and loved to introduce the children of the neighbourhood to his gnome collection.

A man of routine he would walk his terrier at the same time each day, garnering “toots” from passing cars. In later years he’d become fond of his grey parrot Zippy, teaching him to call out for “Johnny Winton”, and feeding him with a spoon from his armchair.

Johnny Winton, at Aberdeen Harbour where he set sail from thousands of times over his fishing career.

“Really what summed up dad’s retirement,” said Graham, “was the time he devoted to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“When we were young he was away so much but he was able to devote himself more to mum and the grandkids in later years. I think he was making up for all the time he was away from home previously. The kids adored him and that time with their granda too.”

‘He was my best friend’

Johnny passed away at home following illness, on November 18, surrounded by family.

Given the choice to move into residential care or look after him at their house, Alice was determined to bring Johnny home.

Alice and Johnny Winton, devoted to one another for 70 years.

Just a week shy of their 69th wedding anniversary, with Johnny’s passing Alice has “lost her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved”.

“He was just such a modest, cheery man, my dad. Always immaculate, known by everyone. Just a loveable guy who we are going to miss terribly,” added Derek.

Mementos of the sea

A celebration of Johnny’s life took place at the funeral home of Aberdeen Funeral Directors. A poem about fishing and some of his favourite Jim Reeves songs were included.

Flowers shaped as an anchor, and his last vessel, the Grampian Chieftain, were placed on his coffin. A heart-shaped arrangement was added, from his more than 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Nautical tributes to trawlerman Johnny Winton.

“For a quiet man at times he leaves a big void. He’ll never be too far away though. If mum wants to hear dad’s voice again she only has to turn to Zippy,” said Lorraine. “He’s still calling dad’s name, using dad’s voice.”

The family wish to express their sincere thanks to all those who contributed to a collection at Johnny’s funeral in aid of Alzheimer Scotland.

Brian added: “We are really grateful for everyone’s generosity. Dad had dementia himself and in total almost £250 was donated.”

You can read the family’s announcement here.