Our Herring Industry

1929 , Lowestoft (Suffolk)

The herring fishing industry.

The film begins by contrasting the old and new herring industries. Shows shots of low white-washed cottages from Hamna Voe, Lerwick and then moves to shots of steam drifters at the Quayside at Lowestoft. Many of these are from Scotland. One in view is marked BF - Banff. There are shots of the men working aboard, carrying on coal and steeping and mending nets. A buoy is pumped up. The drifters leave the harbour and put to sea. The skipper of the Renovelle looks out to sea using a pair of binoculars. Birds, shot at Noss Head, Lerwick, are filmed feeding on the sea. The long line is let out and the nets and buoys are attached. A shot below deck shows a fisherboy watching the line. The men above deck cast the nets. The next sequence shows the men below decks in the cabin. They eat and prepare for bed. These men were crew of the Maid of Thule and they are shot on a set that was constructed in the market place at Lerwick. The next sequence shows fish in water and caught in the nets. This is also a cheat. The scenes were shot in tanks (scratches on the glass are visible in some shots) at the Plymouth Marine Biological Research Centre. The crew rise and set to work hauling in the nets and shaking the herring from them. The herring cargo is stored in the hold. The drifters are filmed steaming though the sea on their return to market. One is marked LO (Lossiemouth), another LK (Lerwick) and others are marked LT (Lowestoft) and YH (Yarmouth.) The scenes here are a mixture of Lowestoft and Yarmouth harbours. Back at the port, the drifters have to jostle for places along side the Quay. At Yarmouth salesmen and buyers go from boat to boat inspecting the catch. There are shots of the auction on the Quayside at Yarmouth. The fishermen complete unloading and the fishergirls walk along the Quay. There are lorries and horse drawn carts along the Quayside. There are further shots of the gulls. The fisher girls are filmed at work, gutting and slating the herring and packing them into barrels. There are shots of a train to represent that some of the fish leave Yarmouth by train for other towns. There follow shots of a ship to represent that most go back to sea and on to the Baltic.

Keywords

Fishing industry; Herrings

Intertitles

There are old-time villages along the coast which have sent men to the herring fishing for centuries. But nowadays fishing headquarters are at great ports like Yarmouth and Lowestoft. In the herring season these ports have fleets of more than a thousand ships. The quayside is busy with preparations for sea. Coal has to be taken aboard, and nets have to be steeped and mended. In the harbour mouth there is a continuous procession of ships putting to sea. Out they go on their 40 mile voyage to the fishing grounds. The skipper has to keep a sharp lookout for the shoals. Birds are a good sign because they feed on the same stuff as herring. A long line or bush-rope is let out from the ship.To this line the nets are made fast. The buoys keep the nets drifting near the surface.The boy below keeps the line clear.There are two miles of nets to shoot, and the work goes on all evening.Then the men gather in the cabin below.Their bunks are let into the side of the ship. With the ship made fast to the end of the line, the nets drift through the night.They present a barrier in which the rushing shoals enmesh themselves.They are caught by the gills and cannot escape.And round lurk shoals of dogfish - They cheat the fisherman of many a fat herring. In the morning, the men go to work again.Even the boys have to get up. The winch hauls the bush-rope. But the nets themselves have to be hauled hand over hand. The fish are shaken free. The boy below coils the line.Hauling is desperately hard work when the sea is rough - it may go on for eight hours at a stretch. When the fish are shaken free they slide down into the hold. Then back goes the drifter to market.Once in port it has to fight for a place at the Quayside.At Yarmouth the procession of salesmen and buyers goes up and down the Quayside from ship to ship. A big catch draws crowds of buyers.Our Herring Industry.Then the auction begins.The fisherman's work is not yet finished, for they have to unload the catch, basket by basket. Flocks of gulls squabble over the throw outs. Some of the herring are cleaned for pickling.Others are mixed with salt and ice and sent off fresh. They go by rail to the home towns. But most of them go on still another sea journey to the Baltic countries. The End.

Other Places

Hamma Voe, Shetland; Lowestoft; Noss Head, Lerwick; Great Yarmouth

Background Information

EMB Films were made anonymously. Films to which Grierson and Walter Creighton put their names, including `Drifters' do not appear in the EMB catalogue.

Manifestations

Our Herring Industry

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