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Great Yarmouth's Herring Curing Industry

Introduction

For hundreds of years, Yarmouth was an important port that played host to a great fishing industry. East Anglian herring fishing can be traced back to the Domesday book, when various herring rents were noted. The process of landing the fish, curing and then packing them created great prosperity for the town – and many jobs for people.

The industry has fluctuated over time, and now we find it has all but gone. This online exhibition tells the story of the curing industry and how is affected Yarmouth.

Comments

Posted:2011 8 12 20:14:33 GMT
fishermen
i am looking for john manthorpe fisherman in gt yarmouth in or about 1930-1939 he is my great gandfather were can i find him
Stuart IPSWICH
Posted:2011 11 16 13:59:14 GMT
i know where to find him ......
anon. unknown
Posted:2013 9 16 17:41:46 GMT
Brixham fisherman
I was crew on M.F.V Pescoso in the mid 60s started mid water fishining for herring and pilchard under capitain John Day. Iteresting site
Ken Hogg Mid Devon
Posted:2014 8 13 21:21:52 GMT
family question
I am intersted in information about the Websters who i believe were smoke house owners around 1900. My grandfather was George Webster who moved to North Shields and was a fish merchant until 1972.
Christopher Evans WoodfordGreen
Posted:2016 8 21 08:19:24 GMT
Norman Davison
Looking for my Maternal Grandfather: Norman Davison. From Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was with the Herring Fleet circa 1920's, met Grandma Edith Sands at Lowestoft early 1924
Liam Johnston Adelaide, South Australia
Posted:2016 8 21 08:19:24 GMT
Norman Davison
Looking for my Maternal Grandfather: Norman Davison. From Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was with the Herring Fleet circa 1920's, met Grandma Edith Sands at Lowestoft early 1924
Liam Johnston Adelaide, South Australia

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Great Yarmouth's Herring Curing Industry

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Fishermen

Fishing crews consisted of around 10 men. Some were full time fishermen, while others – known as ‘joskins’ – were agricultural labourers who joined the fleet for the autumn fishing after the land harvest was over.

Fishing required vessels that were sturdy, manoeuvrable and fast. Most were two or three-masted and called luggers, which is a type of sailing boat taking its name from the lug sail - that is, a large sail with a single long wooden spar at the top. There were no jibs or foresails, so the sail could be raised and dropped very quickly (for example, when landing on the beach).  The relatively short mast and lack of a boom helped keep the decks clear for handling the nets. Technically, as the ships were not lugger rigged, they were really drifters and they were commonly known by this name.

Drifting is the method used to catch fish that feed near the surface, known as pelagic fish. A long train of nets were sent out from the vessel and the ship would follow the tide – ‘drifting’ for about six hours by which time she could have covered anything from five to fifteen miles, however long the tide was.                                                  

Vessels sailed with their nets spread out to catch the herring, the smaller fish passing through the holes for another year.

Colin Elliott wrote of the 19th century fishermen: “they could set a course…from memory and sail it with an instinctive built in allowance for lee-way and tidal set. In thick fog they would make a safe landfall after negotiating tortuous narrow channels which only allowed a narrow safe passage in a vast expanse of broken water. They sailed with an intimate knowledge of the changing colour and surface pattern of the sea which told them where they were in 600 miles of watery waste. Above all they knew the shape of the bottom of the sea like other men knew the bumps and dips of their back gardens, for more than anything else they navigated by soundings… They were ship handlers whose skill will never again be matched and the sort of navigation they practised as now all but a lost art”.

Steam drifters replaced the sailing luggers in the early 20th century, proving quicker at hauling in the nets and returning to port, enabling more trips out to sea.

Comments

Posted:2011 8 12 20:14:33 GMT
fishermen
i am looking for john manthorpe fisherman in gt yarmouth in or about 1930-1939 he is my great gandfather were can i find him
Stuart IPSWICH
Posted:2011 11 16 13:59:14 GMT
i know where to find him ......
anon. unknown
Posted:2013 9 16 17:41:46 GMT
Brixham fisherman
I was crew on M.F.V Pescoso in the mid 60s started mid water fishining for herring and pilchard under capitain John Day. Iteresting site
Ken Hogg Mid Devon
Posted:2014 8 13 21:21:52 GMT
family question
I am intersted in information about the Websters who i believe were smoke house owners around 1900. My grandfather was George Webster who moved to North Shields and was a fish merchant until 1972.
Christopher Evans WoodfordGreen
Posted:2016 8 21 08:19:24 GMT
Norman Davison
Looking for my Maternal Grandfather: Norman Davison. From Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was with the Herring Fleet circa 1920's, met Grandma Edith Sands at Lowestoft early 1924
Liam Johnston Adelaide, South Australia
Posted:2016 8 21 08:19:24 GMT
Norman Davison
Looking for my Maternal Grandfather: Norman Davison. From Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was with the Herring Fleet circa 1920's, met Grandma Edith Sands at Lowestoft early 1924
Liam Johnston Adelaide, South Australia

Add a Comment

In order to defeat spam we require javascript to be enabled in your browser before you can comment on this site.

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