FISHING
 
9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ - Tel: 01502 726097 email
 
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  Ups and downs in the business of fishing have shaped Southwold’s town and prosperity.  
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If you had lived in Southwold a thousand years ago, you’d have eaten herring nearly every day, fresh when they were in season, salted at other times of the year. For centuries, shoals of these plentiful silvery fish meant food and wealth for the town. But the story of fishing hasn’t always been plain sailing.

Rich boat-owners, fishermen and merchants paid to build St Edmund’s Church in the 1400s. The industry was still buoyant in the 1600s, with a fleet of fifty boats sailing from Southwold for herring, cod and sprats. Soon afterwards, however, the harbour mouth silted up, putting the industry into decline.

The risk of storms, pirate attack and shipwreck had always been a reality for fishermen. As harbour conditions worsened in the 1800s, poor fishing families had to live on the beach in flimsy wooden huts. An early-1900s industry revival was halted by two World Wars – and Southwold’s fishing prosperity has never returned.

THE FREE BRITISH FISHERY


This fascinating engraving dates from the 1750s and gives the most detailed record we have of the impressive range of facilities that existed during the brief heyday of the Free British Fishery.

To examine it in more detail and learn more about the Free British Fishery, Click the image.

 

SOUTHWOLD'S LONGSHORE FLEET



Southwold Beach in 1898. This particularly sharp picture repays a closer look - click the image

Tourists and fishing boats vie for beach space in the early 1900s.
Click the picture to enlarge

South Beach in the early 1900s. Click to enlarge.

 


South Beach in the early 1900s, before the defensive 'scrape' was created separating the beach from Ferry Road. Most of the longshore fleet favoured the beach rather than the harbour. Click the picture for a bigger view. P1053

Eight pictures of Southwold Fishermen taken in the early part of the 20th Century.
Click to enlarge

Southwold Fisherman landing  spratsHerring hods line up on Southwold Harbour with old chain-link ferry in background.
"Meeting the Boat"Carrying sprats ashore - early 1900s
Fishermen on Southwold beach in 1890Another good catchAnother good catch 2
 

The Herring Packer’s Oath
You shall make oath that you will well and truly execute your office of a packer of herring within the town of Southwold and mind the laying of all herrings and that they shall be merchantable and that the vessels or casks shall be full and equally packed in every part. So help you God.

P735 Click the picture to see more photos of the herring packers

 

William Stannard recalls the fishing industry of half a century ago.

Click the greenheadphone icons to hear extracts from our Sound Archive



Beach Barter!
War was a time of plenty!


Boys should be seen and not heard!


"A bucket of soles for Trinity Fair"


Why the cod have left


"Ruled by the elements. Ruled by the seasons."

 
About Barrett Jenkins
"Coming Ashore at Southwold" P474

PULLING TOGETHER
The pragmatic origins of the Southwold Beach Companies
Click the picture.

WHAT WAS THE FREE BRITISH FISHERY?

Click here to find out

 
WELCOME TO THE KIPPERDROME
 
Southwold's Kipperdrome or fish market
Click the picture to find out what went on here
 
 
 
 
 
A good catch!  Click the picture for a better look.
In the beginning
The Sea
Natural Southwold
Transport to Southwold
Southwold at war
Christianity in Southwold
Industry
Arts & Crafts
Holidays & Leisure
Southwold the town
Southwold Shops & Trades


We acknowledge The Beachmen by David Higgins (Dalton, 1987) as a source for the text about Beach Companies (See Pulling Together).

 

 
 
 
 
 

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Southwold Museum & Historical Society, 9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ
Tel: 01502 726097 email

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered Charity No 1159790,

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