Pathe News Films of the Great Yarmouth Herring Industry from c.1924 to 1940s

Also includes HRH Prince of Wales visit to the herring fleet and the Haven Bridge opening ceremony 21/10/1930

By Duncan Kirkwood

The Pathe News Archive available online has several films relating to the Great Yarmouth herring industry ... here are the links but you will have to wait for the short adverts to finish before the newsreels commence:

(A) These two clips, apparently dated 1946, allegedly show fishermen on strike for bigger rations ( food was still rationed following WW2 ) ... but maybe it was Sunday when the Scots did not fish and the drifters were moored in the Yare? There was a strike in 1946 which resulted in fishermen being granted 6 hours rest per day whilst working at sea ... but how could this be enforced when drifters' crews needed to work such very long hours?

(B) This Pathe Newsreel documents shooting the nets and hauling in the catch but maybe the 'covering up and heading for home' is not quite correct as the fish on deck would have subsequently been packed into crates at sea or stored in the hold.

(C) These two short clips show Scottish fisher girls packing herring into barrels ... the title of the first must be incorrect as these are not bloaters

(D) This clip shows herring being unloaded onto the quay and drifters moored three abreast near the Town Hall ... Any comments about the "Herring Fair" title?

(E) This slightly longer clip shows steam drifters YH 264, YH 997, YH 151, and YH 47 at sea plus footage of the harbour ... note the relatively longer Dutch drifter SCH 66

(F) Nine minute film featuring preparation of herring for curing; packing kippers; loading boxes of bloaters onto lorries  ... also  steam drifters and a few diesel drifters leaving port and coal being tipped into a steam drifter. Also fishermen? admiring clothing and boots ... maybe at Yarmouth Stores?

(G) This shorter film has a soundtrack and includes footage from the previous film ... and shows the drifter 'Fragrant' which is also in the films above and again shows YH 47

(H) This film is dated 1924 and features the Scots fisher lassies preparing herring ... Also a visit to the herring fleet in Great Yarmouth by HRH Prince of Wales  ... later to become King Edward VIII. However, this must have been 21 October 1930 ie when he opened the Haven Bridge as shown towards the end of the film . Note his car ...  is it a Rolls Royce Phantom Landaulette?

(I) This film duplicates the above but this time has the correct date + 2 days and has additional footage of HRH Prince of Wales. Judging by the lack of overcoats worn at the bridge opening it must have been quite a warm October day

(J) This short clip duplicates some of the above and thus the date 1933 could be incorrect ... features the Scots lassies again but has some additional footage

(K) This 2minute 57 seconds clip shows Scots lassies preparing herring in 1925 ... they must have had eyes in the backs of their heads to be able to throw the herring backwards into the barrels ... note YH 627.

(L) This short film from 1934 documents six thousand tons of herring  (according to the narrator) not attracting any sale bids and two thousand tons due to be dumped at sea

(M) This clip shows the Duke of Edinburgh presenting The Prunier Trophy , presumably at Madame Simone Prunier's restaurant.  The date is not shown but could be late 40s or early 50s?  Whichever crew and drifter won they would have fished from Gt Yarmouth during the season.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at these historical films of Great Yarmouth's former premier industry.  

I'm a former Gt Yarmouth resident and in September and October 1960, spent many opportunist hours when aged 14 years picking up bagfuls of herring off the quay by the ferry as they fell off the baskets when unloaded from the Scottish drifters. We gave them to friends and neighbours and also used them for fishing bait but all we caught were pout whiting ... the herring tasted much better!

There are other films of Great Yarmouth in the Pathe archive; they are accessible using the site's search facility if you key in Great Yarmouth or Yarmouth. 

Best wishes

Duncan Kirkwood in Peterborough  

This page was added by Duncan Kirkwood on 01/09/2010.
Comments about this page

I note that Peggotty's "Through The Port Hole" article titled 'Delight at herring fishery newsreels' in the Gt. Yarmouth Mercury December 10 2010 appears to use my original essay and comments therein as the basis for the Mercury's full page story. Peggotty's only acknowledgement in the Mercury story states, " ... so it was a delight recently when I visited an online computer website to watch a clutch of herring fishery newsreels from the first 60 years of the 20th century, a cornucopia of nostalgia there before my eyes." I subscribe to the Great Yarmouth Mercury and thus read the article but it would have been polite for the writer to give a better acknowledgement to my original essay and the 'Our Great Yarmouth' website. Best wishes Duncan Kirkwood

By Duncan Kirkwood
On 21/01/2011

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