Rare images capture the glory days of the East Anglia’s fishing industry
- Credit: Mike Adcock Collection
They were tough, hard-working women who were the backbone of the booming East Anglian fishing industry– these rare photographs give us a flavour of their world.
Taken at a time when large numbers of these Scots lassies would arrive in Norfolk and Suffolk gutting, pickling and packing millions of herring caught off our shores.
The pictures illustrate a time when our fishermen took to the stormy North Sea, often risking life and limb, to earn their living to put food on our plates.
It wasn’t so much a job, more a way of life, for generations of men and women.
Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were principal fishing stations. The herring and mackerel fisheries were the main ones but cod and other white fish were caught in great quantities.
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By the end of 1886, the number of boats in Yarmouth registered under the Fisheries Act amounted to just under 450 and it was estimated that between 4,500 and 6,000 men and boys were working in the business.
The Yarmouth Bloater was celebrated across the kingdom and vast quantities of cured fish were sent all over Europe. They were a much-loved treat in Catholic countries, especially during the great feasts of Lent and Advent.
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Each year between September and November, every nook and cranny in the great ports of Yarmouth and Lowestoft were given over to curing, pickling and packing herring..
The Scots fishergirls would move south from the Shetlands in vast numbers and at the height of the home fishing at Yarmouth and Lowestoft they could gut 60 herrings a minute – that is one every second.
The photographs come from the Mike Adcock Collection and have been handed to authors Frances and Michael Holmes of Norwich Heritage Projects.
Mike, who died some years ago, was passionate about the city and county and was proud to be a Blue Badge Guide, telling the story of Norfolk and Norwich to locals and visitors, including students at the Bell School of Languages, from across the world.
“He would be delighted to know other people can now enjoy his photographic collection,” said his wife, Christine.
And share his love for Norfolk and Suffolk. Watch this space for more of his collection highlighting our life and times.
To look at the website featuring these photographs set up by Michael and Frances Holmes, see www.norwich-heritage.co.uk/photo gallery/gallery.shtm