History of North Shields

North Shields started out as a place to land fish back in the 13th century when the monks inhabited Tynemouth Priory. The harbour area grew and grew until it became a thriving fish quay with over a hundred boats arriving every day in the 1900s.

Herring drifters

Herring drifters were wooden sailing vessels that fished with long nets hanging over the sides like curtains. Late in the afternoon the boats would sail out to the fishing grounds and shoot the nets. They would then drift with the tide, waiting until the fish rose to the surface during the night. The nets were then hauled in, the fish placed on ice and the boats raced back to port with the catch.

 

 

 

Canning, rope-making and carpentry

 

Extract from the fish offal agreement between Blyth Harbour and North Shields Fish Oil and Guano Company

Canning, rope-making and carpentry all flourished and the fish quay became a vibrant and lively place. There was work for everyone including the children: girls helped their mothers gut herring; boys played an important role in fetching baskets from the creel makers, bringing ice to the quayside and assisting their fathers with net repairs. Boys went to sea from around the age of 14.

Herring sorting

Did you know….

Herring have a life expectancy of between 10-12 years!