Fishing traditions of Morecambe Bay - Oral History Project

" I picked shrimps for six pence a jam jar"

"I didn’t have any boyfriends when I was growing up, me boat was my gentlemen friend"

"I remember going out fishing and seeing elephants being bathed off the shores of Blackpool from the zoo"

This oral history project focuses on the small inshore fishing communities especially those at Flookburgh, Morecambe and Sunderland Point. It is part of our Headlands to Headspace Scheme.

We are capturing local memories, before they are lost for future generations. Themes include fishing by horse and cart and the changes as they were replaced by tractor and quadbike; the tools of the trade, how they were made, their names and use; the division of roles, girls and women fishing and shellfish processing.

The project is being delivered by expert oral historian Jenn Mattinson. Below gives you a taster of what this project is uncovering.

If you'd like to get involved with this project, find out more here or contact us.

What is oral history?

Oral history is the recording of people's memories, experiences and opinions. It is:

  • A living history of everyone's unique life experiences
  • An opportunity for those people who have been 'hidden from history' to have their voice heard
  • A rare chance to talk about and record history face-to-face
  • A source of new insights and perspectives that may challenge our view of the past.

What have we achieved to date?

"I’ve just spent the afternoon with them.  It was flipping amazing.  Best one I’ve done – in fact possibly one of the best THINGS I’ve ever done!  Feeling very happy." Quote from on of our oral history volunteers

  • Project began in February 2015
  • We are currently working with 20 active volunteers (interviewing and/or transcribing)
  • Further volunteers in training and more training courses planned
  • Collected over 50 hours of oral history recordings so far and interviewed almost 40 people
  • We've heard the fascinating and often moving memories and stories of many of the Bay's fishing families and we hope to capture a lot more over the course of the project.

What next?

  • We are creating an archive of all the oral histories we have collected to ensure they are available for future generations 
  • Over 2017-2018 we have a programme of community-based creative projects that celebrates the unique fishing heritage of Morecambe Bay

Find out more

Main types of fish caught in Morecambe Bay:

  • Shrimps
  • Cockles
  • Flukes or Flounders
  • Mussels
  • Salmon
  • Whitebait
  • Others: Plaice, Mackerel, Sole, Eels…….

Methods of fishing on Morecambe Bay: changes in history

  • Horse and Cart
  • Tractors and Trailers
  • Use of Quad Bikes
  • Boats – pre and post engines
  • Different areas of the bay have different methods of fishing

Methods of fishing on Morecambe Bay: Equipment and tools

  • Different nets for different types of fishing
  • Use of cockle baskets
  • Hessian sacks
  • Shrimp riddles
  • Craam and Jumbo
  • Introduction of refrigeration
  • Many traditions on Morecambe Bay still remain to this day

Summary of emerging themes:

  • Methods of fishing
  • Equipment and tools
  • Family tradition
  • Resilience of men and women – it was a very hard life
  • Real ‘characters’ behind the fishing
  • Supplementary incomes – then and now
  • Fisherman’s nicknames
  • Names of boats
  • Superstitions
  • Social side – Fisherman’s choir (Methodist), The Pub
  • Dialect words and phrases
  • And SO MUCH MORE……..

If you'd like to volunteer to collect oral histories, please find out more here or contact us.

Catching Tales community-based creative projects

Back to History and heritage projects page

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