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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.

Comments

Posted:2009 8 10 03:18:10 GMT
most interesting. Thank you. Please can you tell me whether or not in, say, 1830 ANY whaling was being carried out in or around Kings Lynn?
Chris Coggin pccoggin@bigpond.com
Posted:2009 8 14 15:23:24 GMT
Chris, Thank you for your enquiry. We don't have any specific information about when the last whaling ships sailed from Lynn. St Margaret’s Church in King’s Lynn was apparently illuminated using whale oils until 1839, so presumably some whaling was still going on up to then, although not necessarily from Lynn. Answering your question would require research. You might try the King's Lynn Library's newspaper archive and early Directories such as White's (tel 01553 772568). The Norfolk Record Office would also be worth contacting: Norfolk Record Office The Archive Centre Martineau Lane Norwich NR1 2DQ Telephone: 01603 222599 Fax: 01603 761885 E-mail: norfrec@norfolk.gov.uk and you should also contact Trues Yard Fishing Heritage Museum, North Street, King's Lynn info@truesyard.co.uk who might be able to assist. Yours sincerely, Tim Thorpe Curator King's Lynn Museums,
Tim Thorpe King's Lynn Museums
Posted:2009 10 3 15:56:08 GMT
This was very interesting especially since we live in Congham and there is evidence of the whaling work having been carried out here too. However one of the questions on my sons local knowledge badge at cubs is Find out where was the headquarters of Kings Lynn Whaling Fleet, we seem to be really struggling with this and would really appreciate some help. Thanks Ruth Gadsbey
Ruth Gadsbey Congham, Kings Lynn
Posted:2009 10 7 11:38:07 GMT
Ruth, Thank you for your enquiry. There was no 'headquarters' of the fleet as such, but the 'Greenland Fishery' inn on Bridge Street was a popular meeting place for whaling fleet sailors and the nearby Blubberhouse Creek was where whale blubber was boiled down into oil. Yours sincerely, Tim.
Tim Thorpe Curator, King's Lynn Museums
Posted:2010 4 15 12:18:00 GMT
The factories for prossesing whale bones was at Narborough on the river nar which prompts me to ask, was the Narwhal hunted for this purpose. Brian
B Pain Kings Lynn
Posted:2010 6 18 19:54:26 GMT
Mundesley fishermen
Do you have any lists of Mundesley herring boat owners and crew? Francis Warnes was a fisherman at his marriage in 1811 and Samuel Warnes a fisherman at his marriage in 1857
V East Leeds
Posted:2011 11 13 02:05:22 GMT
Lynn whaling industry
As a member of the Natural History Museum in London but living in King's Lynn, I went recently on a members' visit to the Museum's storage depot in south London where they are storing the almost complete skeleton of a North Atlantic right whale which was unearthed in an archaeological dig in Greenwich, London, in 2010. I learned that there are several types and that they were called 'right whales' because they were easy to catch as they are surface feeders and they also float when they are dead. I wondered if any of this whale species was ever caught and brought back to King's Lynn to be processed here.
Judith Thursby KIng's Lynn, Norfolk
Posted:2013 7 31 21:54:47 GMT
Helen Bracey
Hi, I know a painting of the 'king of the fishermen' used to be hung in the town hall I believe. I am related to him and just wondered if you had any information as to who he was? thanks Helen
Helen Bracey Reading

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Whaling from King's Lynn

The Whaling Industry in King’s Lynn
 
The Growth of the Industry
Maritime industries have been vital to King’s Lynn’s economy for hundreds of years. From the eighteenth century until the late nineteenth century whaling was one of the most lucrative maritime activities-and also one of the most dangerous.
 
The earliest recorded reference to whaling in King’s Lynn comes from Thomas Southwell’s notes on the Arctic whale trade, quoting Sir Hamon Le Strange he says ‘a sperm whale cast ashore in his manor in 1626 was cut up and disposed of by some that had bine (been) in Greenland, fishing for whales’.

There were heavy investments in whaling in King’s Lynn during the eighteenth century, in part due to the rich rewards, including a ‘40-shilling a ton’ bounty, which could be gained. An Act of 1771 also encouraged the industry as it stated that whaling ships didn’t have to pay duties on their catches. The same Act also protected members of whaling crews from ‘press gangs’ during the whaling season, which ran from March or April until August each year. The purpose of the press gangs was to force unwilling men to join the Royal Navy, which at the time was a very unpopular profession.

The Uses of Whale Products
Whaling became such a significant industry in part because its products were so versatile and useful. Whalebone was used to make chair backs, brush and whip handles, by butchers for chopping blocks and in dressmaking for stiffenings. The jawbones were used to strengthen the hulls of ships and also ground down to make fertilizer. Grease made from whale oil was used to lubricate machinery and the oil was also as an ingredient in soap making and for street lighting and early lamps. St Margaret’s Church in King’s Lynn was illuminated using whale oils until 1839. The multiple uses of whale meant that it was a potentially very rewarding industry.

The Dangers of Whaling
These financial, and personal, benefits encouraged local men to invest in the whaling industry in King’s Lynn. During the eighteenth century the Greenland Company was established and around this time several whaling ships sailed from the town, including the Experiment, the Bedford, the Archangel, the Fountain and the Eclipse.

However, the men who worked in the whaling industry faced many dangers; from the sea, ice, the whales themselves and perhaps more surprisingly other Arctic wildlife. For example in 1788 Captain Cook, of the Archangel, was almost killed by a bear in Greenland, and was only saved when a member of his crew shot the animal dead!

Whaling in King’s Lynn
Whaling made its mark on the town of King’s Lynn, although there is limited physical evidence left now. In 1775 the Old Blubber House was built at Blubberhouse Creek. Horses towed the ships up the Nar to this site where the blubber houses were. Unfortunately this building was demolished in the 1960s. A house built on Bridge Street in 1605 for John Atkin, who was a merchant and mayor in King’s Lynn, was used as a public house for sailors of the whaling industry from the latter part of the seventeenth century. This association gave the name, ‘The Greenland Fishery’, to the building.

The Decline of the Whaling Industry
During the nineteenth century the King’s Lynn whaling industry went into decline. This was due in part to the increase in popularity of gas lighting as well as competition from Hull, Grimsby and London and the abolition of the encouraging bounty in 1820.

 King’s Lynn relied heavily on its maritime economy and for a time the whaling industry was a highly important, but very risky, trade which brought a great deal of prosperity to the town.

Comments

Posted:2009 8 10 03:18:10 GMT
most interesting. Thank you. Please can you tell me whether or not in, say, 1830 ANY whaling was being carried out in or around Kings Lynn?
Chris Coggin pccoggin@bigpond.com
Posted:2009 8 14 15:23:24 GMT
Chris, Thank you for your enquiry. We don't have any specific information about when the last whaling ships sailed from Lynn. St Margaret’s Church in King’s Lynn was apparently illuminated using whale oils until 1839, so presumably some whaling was still going on up to then, although not necessarily from Lynn. Answering your question would require research. You might try the King's Lynn Library's newspaper archive and early Directories such as White's (tel 01553 772568). The Norfolk Record Office would also be worth contacting: Norfolk Record Office The Archive Centre Martineau Lane Norwich NR1 2DQ Telephone: 01603 222599 Fax: 01603 761885 E-mail: norfrec@norfolk.gov.uk and you should also contact Trues Yard Fishing Heritage Museum, North Street, King's Lynn info@truesyard.co.uk who might be able to assist. Yours sincerely, Tim Thorpe Curator King's Lynn Museums,
Tim Thorpe King's Lynn Museums
Posted:2009 10 3 15:56:08 GMT
This was very interesting especially since we live in Congham and there is evidence of the whaling work having been carried out here too. However one of the questions on my sons local knowledge badge at cubs is Find out where was the headquarters of Kings Lynn Whaling Fleet, we seem to be really struggling with this and would really appreciate some help. Thanks Ruth Gadsbey
Ruth Gadsbey Congham, Kings Lynn
Posted:2009 10 7 11:38:07 GMT
Ruth, Thank you for your enquiry. There was no 'headquarters' of the fleet as such, but the 'Greenland Fishery' inn on Bridge Street was a popular meeting place for whaling fleet sailors and the nearby Blubberhouse Creek was where whale blubber was boiled down into oil. Yours sincerely, Tim.
Tim Thorpe Curator, King's Lynn Museums
Posted:2010 4 15 12:18:00 GMT
The factories for prossesing whale bones was at Narborough on the river nar which prompts me to ask, was the Narwhal hunted for this purpose. Brian
B Pain Kings Lynn
Posted:2010 6 18 19:54:26 GMT
Mundesley fishermen
Do you have any lists of Mundesley herring boat owners and crew? Francis Warnes was a fisherman at his marriage in 1811 and Samuel Warnes a fisherman at his marriage in 1857
V East Leeds
Posted:2011 11 13 02:05:22 GMT
Lynn whaling industry
As a member of the Natural History Museum in London but living in King's Lynn, I went recently on a members' visit to the Museum's storage depot in south London where they are storing the almost complete skeleton of a North Atlantic right whale which was unearthed in an archaeological dig in Greenwich, London, in 2010. I learned that there are several types and that they were called 'right whales' because they were easy to catch as they are surface feeders and they also float when they are dead. I wondered if any of this whale species was ever caught and brought back to King's Lynn to be processed here.
Judith Thursby KIng's Lynn, Norfolk
Posted:2013 7 31 21:54:47 GMT
Helen Bracey
Hi, I know a painting of the 'king of the fishermen' used to be hung in the town hall I believe. I am related to him and just wondered if you had any information as to who he was? thanks Helen
Helen Bracey Reading

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