Film ID: YFA 2249 Video of YFA 2249 St Andrew's Fish Dock Hull 1962 ST ANDREW'S FISH DOCK, HULL 1962 Visitor TabsDescription This film shows men working on St. Andrew's Fish Dock in Hull and the methods of their work. It provides an interesting look at this side of the fishing industry in 1962. A trawler (The Lord Hawke, Hull) is moored alongside the dock. Baskets of fish are transported via a series of pulleys and ropes. They swing across from the ship on to the dock where men catch them and empty the fish in to buckets. The buckets are then wheeled off in carts. This sequence provides good footage of the unloading process and the dock workers from various angles. There are close-ups of the pulleys as well as the halibut on the floor. The men wash down the metal trays and pile them up. Baskets of fish are pulled up from holes at the side of the docks. Baskets of ice are emptied into the water, and some of the fish can be seen having been dropped out of the baskets. There are vast rows of buckets of fish, and a man in a white coat stands on top of the buckets inspecting them. On one bucket full of fish, there is a “Birdseye”, “Newington” sign. There is also a bucket with “Jackson Mills” and “Chappie Animal Feeding Stuffs” on it. On the docks, the fish are being gutted and having their bones and heads removed. A man climbs up the mast of the trawler and throws something down to a group of men in white coats. There are scenes of wolf fish being deboned and their skins being removed. Trucks back up towards a warehouse, and one truck has “Bogg & Son Wholesale Fish Merchants” on its side. In the background another truck pulls off. A man starts to load up the trucks from the warehouse, and there are more scenes of the dock workers. The trawler and dinghy pull away from the dock, and two men can be seen on board. Several halibut are laid out, and a man drags one away. The film closes with different trawlers going by including the “H329 Somerset Maugham.” Context This film was made by Ron Normanton, a member of the Halifax Cine Club. The Halifax Cine Club is one of many cine clubs in West Yorkshire who were, and remain, very productive. They were making 16 mm films from when they were formed in 1938. The YFA has a large collection of films from the Halifax Cine Club, with some others also on YFA Online, such as The Pace Egg (1961), Opening Of the Serbian Orthodox Church (1954), New Horizons (1952) and Saturday Morning Out (1951). The Halifax Cine Club often worked in teams, although not in the case of this film – the person filmed filming is the manager of the dock who gave Ron permission to film there. Ron joined the Halifax Cine Club in 1940, shortly after it was formed, and can be seen in many of its films – including climbing onto the roof (the second person up the ladder) in Opening Of the Serbian Orthodox Church. An engineer by profession, Ron was technically very skilled and developed a number of innovations that he used in his own filming. Ron was invited over to Hull to make the film by a colleague. St Andrews Fish Dock is similar to another film on YFA Online, simply called the Harrison Compilation, which was made by Hull fish merchant David Harrison in the 1950s. David had a fish merchant business at St Andrew's Fish Dock, stand number 180, and his film also shows men working on the Fish Dock and the methods of their work. One noticeable difference between this film and the earlier Harrison film is that in the latter wooden barrels were still being used rather than metal ones in 1962. An interesting aspect of the film, and another difference with the Harrison Compilation, is the way that the Ron has shot the whole unloading process from such a wide variety of vantage points and angles. The outside eye films parts that an insider might not, like the rotting fish. The only aspect of the process that isn’t captured is the sound. That it would have been very noisy can be heard on a similar film made in 1946, From Sea to Shore – Arctic Harvest, a clip of which can be seen on the BBC Nation on Film website (they have the date wrong). The film of the large halibut that has been caught is intriguing, as David Harrison Jnr., who is seen in the Harrison Compilation, claims his father bought the biggest halibut to be caught in Hull – and apparently a picture of this still adorns a pub in Hull. Although originally designed for the coal trade, by the time it opened in 1883 St. Andrew's Dock was used solely for the fishing industry, which was rapidly growing at that time with the development of steam powered trawlers and the railway network. The coming of the railway and the growth of fish and chip shops meant that fish became a staple part of working class diet. Fishing was an extremely dangerous occupation and was still in 1962. Shortly before this, in 1955, the Lorella and Roderigo went down with the loss of all 40 crewmen. This led to the setting up of the Hull Fisherman’s trust the following year. More on the history of St Andrew’s Docks can be found in the Context for Harrison Compilation. The film shows the old method of unloading fish into baskets before being carted to the auction. Here the wet-fish is discharged from the fish cargoes by winch and basket by teams of ‘bobbers’ in the fish room. The name ‘bobber’, which was peculiar to Hull – in Grimsby they were called ‘lumpers’ – derives from the need to ‘bob’ to avoid the baskets as they are being swung over. The baskets are then raised to above deck level by winches and swung to the quayside where the fish are tipped into 10-stone containers, known as ‘kits’. The kits are then weighed and assembled on the market ready for sale. The metal kits and the white suits worn by the auctioneers show that some improvements in hygiene had been made since Harrison’s film, yet with the prevalence of Weil's disease it still shows just how lax standards were compared with today. But all of this was beginning to change. The year before this film was made, in 1960, the Associated Fisheries Ltd. ordered their first Stern trawler, the Lord Nelson. This was designed to freeze half her catch at sea into blocks weighing about 45 kg (100 Ib), with a total capacity of just over 200 tons. This was followed by the first British vessel designed to freeze her entire catch, the Junella, built to the order of Hull based J. Marr and Son Ltd.. From that time on all subsequent freezer vessels have been designed to freeze the entire catch. The newer vessels were all landing whole fish in blocks which were hoisted singly by an electric shore winch on to a portable table placed on the deck. The blocks were then transferred to an electric conveyor which carried them to the market and then they went by forklift trucks onto open lorries. From being just over 1% of all fish landed in 1963, by 1967 frozen-at-sea fish was 12%, with Hull landing more than any other port, over half of the total – 38,000 tons out of 66,000 tons. In 1961 the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Fishing Industry (Fleck Report) recommended that boxing at sea be implemented in all sections of the British trawling fleet. As a result of these recommendations in 1964 the Industrial Development Unit of the White Fish Authority introduced boxing in all water fleets. Needless to say, the job losses this entailed encountered strong opposition from the dockworkers at the time. This process of modernisation has continued with today Hull’s Fishgate priding itself as one of the most advanced electronic auction wholesale port fisheries. In the 1960s large offshore stern trawlers were being built, replacing the smaller trawlers working inshore. These were back loading, making them more efficient and safe. Although these were small in comparison with the giant self-contained factory ships that came out of Eastern Europe. Having their own doctors, operating theatres and cinema, these were like towns on the ocean, returning only to discharge fish and for maintenance. However, the trawlers seen in the film are the older oil fired steam trawlers, or side winders. One such is ‘The Lord Hawke’, built by John Lewis & Sons Ltd in 1950 and originally named Red Hackle before being renamed in 1954 when it was acquired by the Lord Line in Hull (all their ships being named ‘Lord’), later finishing up at Grimsby before being scrapped in 1968. Another ship seen in the film, the ‘Somerset Maugham’, was a new ship, constructed in 1961 by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd of Beverley, and scrapped in 1978. It won The Silver Cod Challenge Trophy in 1962 and again in 1965, 1966 and 1967, all under the skipper Bill Brettell. Among the other ships that can be seen are either the Kingston Sardius (H588) or Kingston Peridot (H591) - information from Mr J M Websell, former Kingston Sardius Wireless Operator (1961). This film was made when it was still the heyday of fishing in the North Sea, before the decline in the fishing industry. Another film on YFA Online connected to this one is Pot Luck, also made in 1962 by local teacher Bill Freeman, about fishermen in Bridlington. The early 1960s were a period of transition, not only to larger ships, but also to freezing and boxing fish at sea. The decline in the fishing industry has been great, but it still remains very important, although much less so in Yorkshire – Scotland much more so. In 1960 there were around 30,000 British fishermen, whilst today the figure is about 12,000. Measuring exactly the decline is a hazardous business because what is measured and how has changed, especially since entering the EU – and the statistics tend to compare much shorter time spans. Yet although the amount of deep sea fish (demersal) caught has steeply declined, by over 80% since the 1960s, the more oily fish that inhabit nearer to the shore (pelagic) like mackerel, has only decreased by about half. On the other hand shellfish has increased, and now makes a bigger proportion of total fish caught than either demersal or pelagic. In his book, York based Callum Roberts traces the effects of humans on the sea and the creatures that live in it (see References). He notes that at one time oysters thrived in the mouth of the Humber, but centuries of fishing boats passing through have worn away the reefs that were their natural habitat. The Context for Pot Luck has more information on the history of fishing in the North Sea and the cod wars with Iceland which had a large effect on it. Many of the companies in the fish industry have now gone, although Birds Eye remains. Clarence Birdseye pioneered frozen food in the 1930s, and launched fish fingers in 1955 priced 1s 8d. Since then over 15 billion have been sold, with more than one million eaten by Britons every day. The marketing figure of Captain Birds Eye, starting out in 1967, is now the longest running brand personality since food advertising began. However, Birds Eye closed its factory on Hessle Road in Hull in 2007 - although at the time it was processing peas rather than fish. The dock itself closed in 1975, to be replaced by a bowling alley and cinema, opened in 1989, and St Andrew’s Quay. References Michael Thompson, Fish Dock: The Story Of St Andrews Dock Hull, Hutton Press Ltd, Beverley, 1989. Callum Roberts, The Unnatural History of the Sea: The Past and Future of Humanity and Fishing, Gaia Books, London, 2007. Hullwebs History of Hull, St Andrews Dock Marine and Fisheries Agency ‘Fishing Ports and Markets’, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Current statistics on Sea Fish UK Sea Fisheries Statistics – Historical Archive Further Information For anyone interested in the history of Hull docks, a good place to start would be The Maritime Historical Studies Centre, part of the University of Hull, and in particular the works of Robb Robinson and David J Starkey, list on the website.