More of the collection of photographs taken by Donald Shields in 1904
The steamship “Queen Of The Broads” pictured on the River Bure in 1904. This famous passenger steamer was built at Cobholm Island in Great Yarmouth in 1889, was 74 feet in length with a 13 foot beam and was powered by a 70hp compound steam engine. The Queen Of The Broads made daily return trips between Wroxham and Great Yarmouth, carrying up to 180 passengers at a time and continued to operate in the Broads right up until 1976 when she was de-commissioned and then broken up.
For many visitors to the area in 1904, their entry point would have been via the paddle steamers which made daily trips to and from London and the South East coast, carrying hundreds of passengers at a time. Many Broadland cruises also made Great Yarmouth a stopover point whilst waiting for the tides to cross Breydon, or to pick up fresh supplies. The tourist industry was flourishing here with many new hotels and boarding houses springing up to cater for the demand, but fishing was still the main industry of the port. Here we see a local trawler making it’s way out of the harbour entrance at Gorleston in 1904.
Another Yarmouth drifter is being towed out to sea by a steam tug.
Another pair of fishing boats are being towed towards the harbour mouth by a steam tug. At the peak of the fishing industry during the Edwardian era, over 9,00 men were working on the drifters and fishing boats which operated out of Great Yarmouth. Alongside this were the ancillary services such as the shipwrights, net and rope makers, coopers, smokehouses etc., and the famous herring girls who prepared the fish.
It wasn’t just local boats which brought fish into Great Yarmouth. Here we see a pair of Scottish fishing vessels being towed into port by steam tug. The boat on the left is from Kirkcaldy in Fife, and the one on the right is from Banff in Aberdeenshire.
More drifters moored at the quay in Great Yarmouth in 1904. The tower of the town hall can be seen in the background.
A double ended “Zulu” fishing boat from Banff makes it’s way in to port through the harbour entrance at Gorleston in 1904.
Another photograph taken at Gorleston harbour mouth.
Once into Yarmouth, the days catch was unloaded at the fish wharf. These are probably herring seen above which were known locally as “silver darlings”. Such was the extent of the fishing industry in Great Yarmouth around this time that, in 1907, some 80 million herring were brought to the fish wharf on one single day alone!
A busy scene at the fish wharf in Great Yarmouth from 1904.
Baskets of fish lined up on the quay side at Great Yarmouth.
Another photograph taken at the same time.
Another image of the fish wharf taken by Donald in 1904.
The herring girls pictured at Great Yarmouth gutting and preparing the fish for packing. Herring is a migratory fish and large groups of these girls, mainly from Scotland, would follow the fishing around the coast of Britain. It was hard and back breaking work, but also a highly skilled job and, because of the sheer volume of fish brought into the ports, there was not enough labour to be found within the local fishing communities, hence the need for this travelling workforce.
There were over 8,000 herring girls working in Great Yarmouth at this time. Temporary herring stations were set up in the ports as they moved around the coastline and the conditions in which the girls worked and lived were extremely harsh. Huts were usually erected to provide very basic living quarters although the “Scotch Girls” who worked in Yarmouth were somewhat better off, as many found accommodation in the hundreds of boarding houses which had sprung up to cater for the influx of tourists during the peak summer months.
A moment of rest for the herring girls at Great Yarmouth. Once the fish had been gutted and salted, they were packed into the barrels which can be seen stacked up behind. Most of the herring which were brought into Yarmouth were destined for export to Germany and Russia. Some were also sent off to the local smokehouses to be turned into the famous Yarmouth Bloaters.
A beautifully atmospheric image capturing the herring girls at rest.
This photograph was taken by Donald in 1903, and features the steamship “Bylgia” from Lubeck in Germany heading into the port of Great Yarmouth. The mass export of herring to Germany and Russia meant that these large cargo ships would arrive daily during the season. The SS Bylgia was built in 1901 and was part of the Horn Line, a shipping company set up by Heinrich Christian Horn in 1882, which traded in the Baltic Seas. Interestingly, it is noted that Bylgia was handed over to Great Britain in 1919, presumably as part of the reparations granted to allied countries after WW1. Ownership was passed through various countries over the following decades, with name changes along the way, and she was eventually scuppered in the harbour of Suez in 1956. The wreck was raised the following year and she was scrapped in 1959.
This is the steamship “Mary” which appears to be from the port of Esbjerg in Denmark.
The steamship “South Coast” from Liverpool makes her way out of Great Yarmouth.
Another photograph of the SS South Coast as she heads for the harbour mouth. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be rowing a small boat on this stretch of the river as can be seen above on the right!
The lifeboat “James Stevens” pictured entering the harbour mouth at Gorleston in 1904. The James Stevens was in service at Gorleston No.4 station between 1903 and 1908 and saved 30 lives during that time. Fishing was an extremely hazardous occupation, not only were there up to 200 other fishing boats in the waters at the same time along with the large cargo ships entering and leaving port, but it was not uncommon to get caught out by bad weather or foggy conditions. The heavy clothing worn by the fishermen for protection against the elements meant that survival time was short if they were unfortunate enough to fall into to the icy cold water.