The Tale of the Herring website

The Tale of the Herring

The Tale of the Herring was a project celebrating the fishing heritage in five ports in eastern England, Amble, Newbiggin, Cullercoats, North Shields and Lowestoft.

It includes a touring exhibition and website run by Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats, and work with schools during 2011 – and an appeal to the public for photographs, stories and information about the herring fisheries.

I guess we’re a bit late (no-one told us about it at the time – neither my old university, or the National Lottery Fund’s PR folks – bah!) but it’s well worth a look for the photos alone.

Fishing grew from a subsistence occupation to a thriving industry along the east coast during the 19th and 20th centuries; it became a way of life rather than a job, with everyone in the community having a role to play.

It was seasonal work, and the biggest event of the year was the arrival of the herring, which happened in different months in different harbours, starting in Scotland in June and ending in Lowestoft in November. During this period, Scottish herring girls would follow the boats as they moved down the coast, joining the local women to gut, salt and pack thousands of tons of herring.

My thanks to Liz Burke for finding the website and passing on the tip!

PS – I’ve been asked to draw folks’ attention to a current  project celebrating the herring fishery through drama and which is designed to involve communities in various ways including  singing and knitting. See the Follow the Herring website.

3 thoughts on “The Tale of the Herring website”

  1. I wonder if they included mention (and research) of the songs and step dancing of the fisher-women / fisher-girls who used to gut the herring on the harbour side. Maybe a missed opportunity but it a bit too late now.

    1. Good question… Not that I can see. Well, they’re about fishing and history, not so much about culture. I’m prepared to bet Christine Kydd has explored this topic though…

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