Film ID:
NEFA 18456



Visitor Tabs


A Tyne Tees Television programme looking at herring fishing industry off the North Sea coast. The film features two vessels; the Royal Navy ton-class minesweeper HMS Soberton and the drifter fishing boat the Welcome Boy. The film follows both ships as they head out into the North Sea from North Shields to fish with drift nets or to patrol as part of the Fishing Protection Fleet. Both return to port and the daily catch is auctioned at North Shields fish market. The final part of the film shows men and women cleaning, preparing and smoking herring which is then loaded onto lorries and driven away.

Seagulls are flying above a fishing boat at sea. The film cuts to show a the drifter fishing boat Welcome Boy anchored on a calm sea with the sun rising in the background. On-board ship men in oilskins work to pull a driftnet aboard. Herring are shaken from the nets into the hold of the ship. The film cuts to a general view of the drifter at sea.

Title: Tyne Tees Television presents

Drifters and fishing boats are moored at North Shields Fish Quay.

Title: Caller Herrin

There are general views of the boats in the harbour and various men on board carrying out repairs. Aboard one drifter two men attach the net roller into position above the hold and fasten the first plastic buff (floating weight) to the edge of the net. Looking down from the quayside onto a boat four fishermen work to repair a net.

The drifter Welcome Boy (Reg: LT293) skippered by Burt Brown pulls away from the quayside into the river Tyne. A cargo ship is seen being towed up the River Tyne by two tug boats. There are various views of the drifter and its crew as it makes its way downstream and out into the North Sea.

The film cuts back to the North Shields Fish Quay where the Fishing Protection Fleet vessel HMS Soberton [a former Royal Navy miner sweeper] is moored. It is captained by Lieutenant Commander David Burstall who stands in the bridge watching as the Soberton moves away from the quayside. There are various general views of the Soberton making its way out into the North Sea showing officers and crew on deck going about their duties.

The film cuts to show the Welcome Boy heading towards its fishing grounds. An oil platform can be seen in the distance. Below decks members of the crew take the opportunity to rest. One man makes a pot of tea while another smokes a cigarette, another reads a newspaper.

The 10 men crew sit down to a meal around a very cramped table. A man is seen cutting a piece of meat. Dishes are passed around and there are views of the men eating.

The film fades and cuts to a view of the Soberton passing the Welcome Boy at sea. There are various views on board the Soberton of the captain in the wheel house looking at instruments and a sailor turning the ships wheel. The film cuts to a view of water breaking across the bow of the ship as it travels through the water at speed.

Back on the Welcome Boy the skipper looks at a line being drawn on a piece of paper coming out of the echo sounder. There are a number of views of the Welcome Boy at sea.

A crew member comes onto the deck and raises the drift flag. The skipper sticks his head out of the wheel house window calling to his men. On deck there are general views showing the crew dressed in their oilskins dropping the drift nets and plastic buffs into the sea. The sequence ends with a view looking backwards from the stern of many plastic buffs bobbing up and down in the water identifying where the drift net has been laid.

Through a fishing net men of the Welcome Boy work on deck while in the background the Soberton sails by.

The film fades into a view of seagulls flying over the drifter. Below deck a member of the crew removes his boots and climbs into his bunk. Below him lays another crew member in his bunk reading a magazine. Sitting at the table the second engineer drinks a mug of tea. There are general views of men sleeping in their bunks.

The film fades again to the bridge of the Soberton where a sailor is seen speaking into a telephone. Two officers on the bridge use binoculars to look out to sea. In the darkness the Soberton nears two drifter boats fishing in the water.

Fading again back to a view of the Welcome Boy drifting at sea; a triangle of small lights hang from the mast indicating to other vessels it is drifting with nets.

On the deck of the Welcome Boy the crew work in harmony to ‘haul and shake’ the nets into the drifter and shake the herring from the nets into the hold. As dawn appears over the skyline the crew continue to bring in the net and fill the hold with herring. The sequence ends with a view of the Welcome Boy anchored in the water, the sun rising in the background.

Heading back to North Shields the Welcome Boy is seen approaching the River Tyne from deck of the Soberton. There are general views of the drifter as she enters the Tyne seen from the deck of the Soberton. The crew of the Welcome Boy stand on deck as it approaches North Shields.

The Welcome Boy comes alongside the quay at North Shields. A number of other drifters can also be seen moored up. Ropes are thrown onto the quay and a man in naval uniform places the rope of a metal bollard.

The film cuts to the Soberton coming into port and berthing along the North Shield quayside. Lieutenant Commander Burstall comes down from the bridge onto the deck and the film fades to a drifter where a man pouring fish from one wooden crate into another. General views of men unloading crates of herring onto the quayside watched over by Lieutenant Commander Burstall.

Inside the fish market men stand around chatting waiting for the auction to begin. On a small platform two men in white coats conduct the auction selling fish at the current subsidy level of £5 per cran [a cran is 6 herring boxes].  The sequence ends with a small number of herring being poured into a bucket.

Back on the quayside more drifter boats are moored alongside, their herring crates being unloaded by winch which lifts the boxes directly from the hold onto the quayside.  A flat-bed lorry pulls up full of wooden crates. Stencilled on each box is written ‘G.S. Ballards & Sons. North Shields’.

The film cuts to a kipper factory where a woman places the herring onto a kippering machine which removes the heads and innards.  The machine is a circular plate onto which the woman continually places fish. Underneath the machine a basked catches the herring.  

A young man takes away the basket of herring and pours the content into a large sink for cleaning and to add coloured vegetable dye. He pours another basket of herring in and uses a large wooden spatula to stir the content.

The film cuts to three women notching the washed and dyed herring onto a wooden pole. Once full one of the women picks up the pole and carries it into the smoke room. The poles of herring can be seen being stacked several rows high.

On the floor has been placed oak chippings and a man appears to light them. He walks out of shot briefly but returns with a wooden paddle which he uses to collect one of the burning embers and lights a second pile of oak chippings. Smoke begins to rise as the door is closed.

Back on the quayside a number of crates of herring are driven away by a man on a small motorised tractor. Crates are seen loaded onto the back of a flatbed lorry. The film cuts to a man, a smaller retailer, loading his purchase of herring into the back of a small van.

Another drifter boats head back out into the North Sea. The film ends with presenter Michael Neville walking slowly along the North Shields quayside towards the fish market. In the background the Soberton can be seen moored.

End Credit: Narrated by Michael Neville

End Credit: Written and Research by Jack Saltman

End Credit: Sound Recordist Gerry Barnes

End Credit: Cameraman Eric Coop

End Credit: Film Editor Peter Dunbar

End Credit: Produced and Directed by George Adams