Monday, 13 October 2008

Herring history

Social and Wine Circle
More details of Norfolk history were dispensed at the October meeting of the village Social and Wine Circle. Mary Fewster was the speaker and she gave a fulsome history of the Yarmouth herring industry. She started by explaining how the herring shoals came down the English Channel, arriving off the Norfolk coast for the last three months of the year. They were caught in drift nets, sometimes as much as 2 miles long, with as many as 600 boats fishing out of Yarmouth at the peak of its popularity around 1900.
The ‘gutting lassies’ followed the fleet of boats as it travelled down the east coast from Scotland during the year and were famous for working out of doors in the cold winter days. The original drifters were sailing boats but eventually they became steam powered which enabled them to get back to port with their valuable cargo as quickly as possible.
The herring around Yarmouth became more and more scarce throughout the last century so the industry slowly faded away. The speaker had started her interest in the subject in the 1980s and had taken photographs of several of the buildings involved in the herring industry which had since been demolished. Much is now recorded at the popular ‘Time and Tide Museum’ in Yarmouth to educate people on what life must have been like for all those involved.
Next month there will be a talk on Morris dancing by Jonathan Dutton starting at 7.45pm in the Church Rooms on Thursday 13 November. This will be preceded by a short AGM so members are asked to arrive earlier at 7.15pm.

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