History of Lowestoft

Lowestoft has had a fishing industry since the Middle Ages. The building of the harbour and railway in the 19th century meant that fish could be easily landed and transported to other parts of the country. The heyday of the fishing industry in Lowestoft was between 1870 and the start of WW1 but it had collapsed completely by the 1960s.

Lydia Eva

Steam drifters such as the famous Lydia Eva (above) used the same fishing technique as sailing drifters but could travel to and from the fishing grounds faster. The 10-man crew would wait until the end of the season before being paid. The net earnings of the vessel, after expenses were taken out, would be divvied out in a complex share system.

Lowestoft drifters

Smoking the kippers

Kippers are herring which have been split down the back, gutted, cleaned, steeped in brine and smoked. This method of preservation takes place in a smoke house where the fish are hung on tenter hooks over fires of oak shavings and damp sawdust for 8-16 hours.

Did you know?

Sixty million herring were landed in a single day in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth; 400 million herring were landed in one season.

Lowestoft fish landings