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
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.
As mentioned earlier, many visitors from London and the South East coast arrived
via the port of Great Yarmouth. This is the paddle steamer “Walton Belle” entering
the harbour in 1904. She was the fifth ship to be added to the Belle Steamers fleet
(later the Coast Development Company) and operated a service between Clacton and
Yarmouth via Lowestoft from 1897 until the outbreak of WW1 in 1914. This in turn
connected with the London steamers at Clacton. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty
in December 1915 and was used as a mine sweeper, initially on the Thames, and then
later on the Tyne.. In 1917 she found the only “T” type German mine to be discovered
in UK waters (only the second in the world) and this commonly became known as the
“Walton Belle Mine”. In 1919 she became a hospital ship before being sent off to
Russia for transport duties, finally being released from military service in 1920.
The Coast Development Company had, by this time, gone into liquidation and she was
sold off and renamed the “Essex Queen” running out of Chatham and Sheerness. She
had a brief spell back in Yarmouth in the late 1930s before, once again, being requisitioned
for duties as a hospital ship on the Thames during World War Two. After the end
of the war she spent two seasons working out of Torquay as “The Pride Of Devon” until,
in 1949, she was refused a passenger certificate due to her deteriorating condition.
She was finally broken up in Southampton in 1951 after a long and varied career.
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.