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Fishing

Introduction

Fishing for herring dominated the fishing along the East Coast, especially at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. But this is not the whole story. Following the coast from the Wash round to Essex, there were a number of different fishing operations, all set up to gain a living from the sea. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, whaling operated from King's Lynn, and along the north west and north norfolk coasts there was a thriving shell fishery, for mussels, cockles and whelks. At Cromer, crab fishing and longshore fishing dominated. Inland, on the Broads, freshwater catches such as eels were exploited. In Essex, at Mersea, Burnham on Crouch and Brightlingsea, whitebait and oyster fishing were of more significance.

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Fishing

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Fishermen and their Ganseys

Tightly knitted, and snug fitting the fisherman’s gansey was virtually windproof and waterproof. The cuffs were very close fitting so as to keep out winter winds and ended short of the wrist to avoid being caught on any pieces of equipment or becoming soaked as the fisherman worked at sea. Cast off at the bottom end, any necessary repairs could be made by unravelling from the cuff and re-knitting. As these working garments were rarely washed, a layer of filth would have given extra protection against the elements.

Halfway up the gansey the densely knitted pattern provided extra warmth to the upper body and an opportunity for the knitter to show off their skills with extremely delicate and fine knitting. This is particularly true of ganseys knitted in Sheringham. They are extremely fine, knitted on size 16 or even 17 needles with three ply wool.

The variety of patterns created by Sheringham knitters over the years is enormous. Apart from plainer ‘working’ ganseys, nearly all had vertical columns of pattern. Everyday objects in the lives of fishing families, for example ropes and herringbone, inspired many of the stitch motifs. Other patterns were based on the weather, for instance one-inch columns of zigzags alternating with similar columns of fine moss stitch give ‘lightening and hailstones’. Being the same front and back, the gansey was reversible. This meant that areas that came in for heavier wear, such as elbows, could be alternated.

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Related Pages

Fishing

Theme: Fishing

Ganseys

Exhibition: Ganseys

black and white photograph of Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg with the Prince of Wales at a presentation ceremony in the Central Hall, Westminster, London

Henry Blogg

black and white photograph of Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg with the Prince of Wales at a presentation ceremony in the Central Hall, Westminster, London

West Runton Elephant. A reconstruction drawing by Sam Brown of the likely appearance of the West Runton elephant.

colour slide

West Runton Elephant. A reconstruction drawing by Sam Brown of the likely appearance of the West Runton elephant.

Gansey knitting stick or shield

Knitting Stick

Gansey knitting stick or shield

Gansey

Propagansey, Cromer Museum 2pm Sat May 18th

Cromer Museum have kindly invited me to come & do my Propagansey talk & display this Satu…

photograph, colour slide, photographer Dr A.J. Stuart, 1990. Harold Hems measuring the pelvis of a large bull elephant in situ in the West Runton Freshwater Bed. 1990

Harold Hems measuring the WRE Pelvis

photograph, colour slide, photographer Dr A.J. Stuart, 1990. Harold Hems measuring the pelvis of a large bull elephant in situ in the West Runton Freshwater Bed. 1990

The Davies family taken between 1907 and 1909

The Davies family taken between 1907 and 1909

The Davies family taken between 1907 and 1909

Reminiscence of the Battle of the Dogger Bank

The Battle of the Dogger Bank

In March 1915 Rev Hamilton wrote in the Cromer Parish Magazine that he had been talking to Tom Ba…

A black and white photograph of Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg with the Prince of Wales at a presentation ceremony in the Central Hall, Westminster, London

Henry Blogg and the Prince of Wales

A black and white photograph of Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg with the Prince of Wales at a presentation ceremony in the Central Hall, Westminster, London

Six steel double-pointed needles, of size 16 and 17 gauge, the type used for knitting ganseys.

Gansey Doube-pointed Steel Knitting Needles

Six steel double-pointed needles, of size 16 and 17 gauge, the type used for knitting ganseys.

photograph, colour slide, photographer Dr A.J. Stuart, 1992. Artist Sam Brown worked with Tony Stuart to envisage what the West Runton elephant looked like - this is one of his sketches. 1992

West Runton Elephant

photograph, colour slide, photographer Dr A.J. Stuart, 1992. Artist Sam Brown worked with Tony Stuart to envisage what the West Runton elephant looked like - this is one of his sketches. 1992