Proud fishing history of Winterton in the spotlight at annual meet up

Chitterunners are descendants of the Winterton Fisherman, Beach Company Men and Beatsers.Annual lunc

Chitterunners are descendants of the Winterton Fisherman, Beach Company Men and Beatsers.Annual lunch held at the Hermanus.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Tales of herring and history were told on Saturday, November 14 when a group known as chitterunners met for their annual reunion lunch and settled a long drawn out point of discussion.

Chitterunners - sometimes known as chittlerunners - are descendants of the Winterton fisherman, beach company men and beatsers.

Making a living from the sea made sense for past residents of Winterton village, which was first mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086.

Historically, the main activities in the village were split between fishing and farming but it was the former in which Winterton men excelled.

While fishermen played an important part in the herring industry in nearby Great Yarmouth, beach company men would utilise the sea in whatever way they could.

Part of this work was to salvage vessels stranded on the notorious sandbanks that lurked just below the surface of the sea, but they also played a major role in the rescue of ships in distress, often manning the lifeboats.

It is reported that there were two major beach companies in Winterton in the 19th century, each having between 60 or 70 members.

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Beatsters was the name given to those - mostly women - who took up the important job of mending the nets.

The group were collectively called chitterunners because the main pursuit was to salvage goods washed ashore, much like the birds who would look for scraps of fish from the boats, known as chittle.

Between 1851 and 1861 a number of Winterton families migrated to Caister. Many of those families joined the Caister beach men and many maintain that this is how the modern lifeboat service began.

Now, those whose ancestors were regarded as Winterton chitterunners meet up every year to keep their loved one's memories going.

Sandra Lawes, who organises the yearly lunch at Hermanus, in The Holway, said the event went well again this year - and an age old argument was put to rest.

'We had 57 people attend this year, it was so nice to see all the residents, many of whom were born here.

'But there has always been a bit of confusion over the years as to whether the group was called the chitterunners or the chittlerunners, because the term was developed by word of mouth it was never written down.

'So the group took a vote, and decided they would be known as the chitterunners.'

A raffle held at the lunch, in aid of the Church of Holy Trinity and All Saints, raised £100.