History archive’s search for a fishergirl

Many of the sights, sounds and smells of Lowestoft's traditional fishing industry have disappeared, but now an interactive website is being created to bring the port's history back to life.

The Young Learners Fishing History Project is creating an online archive centre to help primary school children learn about the town's fishing and seafaring heritage.

After months of hard work, the project's organisers are now searching for former fishergirls to help shed light on the role they played gutting, pickling and packing herring.

Scottish fishergirls and their local counterparts were a common sight around Lowestoft's port and beach village, processing herring at rates of up to 60 fish every minute.

Hundreds of the Scottish workers started the year in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles and moved south to follow the fishing, descending on Lowestoft en masse to join local women working at the port.

Mike Holroyd, one of the project organisers, said: 'The website will be an interactive resource for schools to teach about maritime and fishing history through the 1920s to 1940s.

'One of our ideas is to talk to older people who were involved in fishing at that time and get their life stories. We can then use that interview footage alongside recreations of actors carrying out work like gutting herring, braiding nets or building a boat to bring it to life.

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'The idea is for the website to create the historical signposts that the children need to be able to go on and ask their own questions about the town's history.

'We've already done several of these interviews, but what we're missing is a fishergirl, or at least someone who remembers them very clearly. We've got lots of information but we need to find someone who can be interviewed for the website.'

The project, which is being funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, has seen students from the Denes High School in Lowestoft work closely with local museums and heritage groups including Lowestoft Maritime Museum, the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, the Excelsior Trust, the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust, Suffolk Records Office and the Heritage Civic Centre.

?Any former fishergirls who are happy to help with the Young Learners Fishing History Project can contact Mike Holroyd on 01502 562364 or email lischlor@aol.com