Scotch Girls 1950's

Photo:Scotch Girls and Barrels 1950's

Scotch Girls and Barrels 1950's

Great Yarmouth Musuems

Photo:Fisher girls at work

Fisher girls at work

Great Yarmouth Musuems

Photo:Fisher girls taking a walk along the quay

Fisher girls taking a walk along the quay

Great Yarmouth Musuems

Photographs of Scotch Fisher Girls

By John Layton

During the fishing season many boats came down from Scotland to catch herring.

They brought their women with them, who would stand on the quayside, gutting the fish and packing them into the barrels, ready for transporting to the Tower Curing Works and elsewhere.

The girls lodged in the local Guest Houses, which brought much needed money to the town.

Below are Audrey Ward's memories of the fisher girls

Summer was quickly followed by the fishing season and by October the fisher girls had arrived. The downstairs sitting room was cleared except for a table and two armchairs. The girl's boxes came by boat, they had all their own things in them like a treasure chest, and they had a lift-up tray with sections in the top. We usually had four girls. In the week they shared a bedroom, but at weekends when the men were ashore, they usually stayed Saturday nights and Sunday nights. Scots boats never sailed on Sunday, and they always had a service on the wharf Sunday Evenings, which was always well attended. Our girls came from Buckie.

They brought most things with them, including a sack of potatoes. Breakfast was porridge with salt. They worked all day, and sometimes in the evenings, with flares for lighting, three girls gutting and one packing. Layers of fish, tails to the middle of the barrel, a layer of salt, then more fish, till it was filled.

They worked with bare arms and always had a shawl and wellie boots. They had an overskirt of oilskin with a bib. They did their fingers up in rags tied with cotton. Dinner was a cauldron of stew with every vegetable obtainable and Norfolk swimmers on top. When they came home at dinnertime, there were pails of water in the yard to wash their hands. The aprons were stood up in the yard, with their boots. They travelled to the Denes on open back lorries with a rail all around and steps to get on. Every spare moment was taken up with knitting. The gurnseys had special patters on them so people could tell their families news. Births, deaths and marriages all had different stitches.

One of the girls called Bella made me a doll's outfit with jumper, hat and scarf all in Fair Isle, with not a seam to be seen.

The Scots made a great deal of trade for the town, and used to buy lots of goods and toys to take home. They went by boat and there was a special train for them to travel back to Scotland in, it usually took the best part of two days.

Written by Audrey Ward

This page was added by John Layton on 15/12/2006.
Comments about this page

I'm researching my family history - virtually every member of my mother's family was involved in the Scottish fishing industry, either as fishermen, boat builders or (in the case of the women) net menders and gutters/packers. I wonder if anyone in the Yarmouth area would remember the names of the Scots coming down from Anstruther and Cellardyke? The boats would be KY registered. Do the names Murray, Robertson, Scott, Boyter, Cunningham, Doig, Carstairs ring any bells? I know my great aunt (Bella Robertson) was a herring packer, and travelled from Fife as far south as Yarmouth, and as far north as Shetland. Any memories?

By shelagh mudd
On 28/07/2010

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