That Little Fishing Village

  • Theme - Local Industry
  • Year - 1957
  • Location - Gt. Yarmouth
  • Filmmaker - Bernard Bothams


This edited history of East Anglia’s herring industry draws material from two home movie collections. Together they portray the work involved in bringing the herring to market. Herring boats in great numbers once crowded the Quayside at Lowestoft and Yarmouth and were responsible for the prosperity of both towns and the working families who lived in the area.

In Victor Harrison’s black and white film the steam drifters pack the quayside as they unload their catch at Lowestoft, using the traditional method of the cran pole to swing the fish ashore.The cran baskets were also a means of measurement. This was just the beginning for the herring as Bernard Botham’s colour film demonstrates. Once ashore, the fish pass from process to process at Great Yarmouth’s famous Fish Quay. The best fish are sent direct to market but others are put into the experienced hands of the Scots girls, who gut the fish at speed as wages could depend on the quantity of herring that passed through their hands. Teams then salt or cure the fish in barrels ready for export. Even in their time off, before the next catch arrives, they keep busy knitting traditional sweaters.

Herring was once the major industry on the east coast. But competition, loss of popularit, regulations and the decline in fish stocks devastated the once thriving fishing fleets and these spectacular scenes disappeared from the Quayside. A few boats struggled on until the 1960’s but these films are an important record of an industry in decline.


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  • An impressive insight into the local fishing industry, it shows how fragile a seasonal trade can be.By: David Knight - 2729 days ago
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