Retired x Scottish herring drift net fisherman

On the pension now

By Kenny Forman

As I have now retired, I was browsing through the computer sites and came across the Yarmouth herring fleet.  My thoughts returned to when I was a young man who was at the drift net during the 60's.  I fished out of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft for 4 seasons on 3 vessels - Silver sprey fr 226, Ritchies fr 25 and Sunbeam fr 487.  We all enjoyed the kindness and friendliness of the townspeople of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.  It is a far cry from the modern giant trawlers fishing for the same "Silver Darlings" but time has marched on and maybe not for the better; gone are the comradeship of the boats crews and the bustling quays landing your "shot" onto open lorries.  As this is my first visit to the site I will close for now wishing the other old fishermen all the best.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Retired x Scottish herring drift net fisherman' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Retired x Scottish herring drift net fisherman' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Retired x Scottish herring drift net fisherman' page
This page was added by Kenny Forman on 28/01/2013.
Comments about this page

Thanks for posting your memories and photos Kenny. 'When I were a lad' I picked up more than a few herring off the quay which fell out of the baskets when drifters were unloading.  I do not recall any steel Fraserburgh drifters fishing from Great Yarmouth but there were many wooden FR vessels - or maybe I only noticed the more picturesque wooden drifters including those from Buckie, Peterhead and Aberdeen.  On Saturday mornings the quay was exceptionally busy when more drifters than usual, 'lop-sided' with their heavy catches, raced from the harbour mouth to unload.  Enormous herring gulls had easy meals of any fish dropped on the quay if the local lads were not quick enough to grab them.  Squabbling gulls swallowed the herring whole whilst shrieking as loudly as possible.  In 1961 there was still at least one steam drifter working from the port - a local GY or LT vessel.  By Saturday evening the quay was quiet again in readiness for a quiet Sunday when the Scottish fleet did not fish.  Artists frequently sketched the drifters unloading their silver quarry.  Groups of photographers, probably from the local photographic club, set up tripods and cameras - sometimes to the amusement of the grinning fishermen who with broad Scottish accents would pass 'remarks' about their artistry and pastime.  I once witnessed the crew of one drifter offer a Great Yarmouth College of Art student a 'cuppa' late in the afternoon; he had set up his easel and stool in front of the tightly packed row of vessels and had been sketching for hours.  At the time I was fishing for eels and 'mud buts' (flounders) in between the tightly moored drifters - using fresh herring picked up off the quay for bait.  There must be many photographs and sketches of the herring fleet at work in the port which have never been published.  I'd like to see some more pictures posted here - especially any sketches and paintings.  Best wishes, Dunk :)

By Duncan Kirkwood
On 04/02/2013

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