John belongs to: Merchants and Traders
John was born in North Shields. His father was a fish merchant and his mother ran a second hand shop. When he left school John followed his father into working on North Shields Fish Quay. He has worked there as a fish merchant since 1957.
John was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 6 March 2005. The interview took place at Discovery Museum and lasted 49 minutes and 43 seconds.
Fish merchant's routine
"We arrive at work at approximately between five and six o’clock, most mornings five o’clock"
We arrive at work at approximately between five and six o’clock, most mornings five o’clock. Just as you got there you would find there’s a large wagon has arrived from Wick, Peterhead, Aberdeen, and you know that that wagon would be approximately 400 boxes of fish, each box would be equivalent to 50 kilos of fish, and you would start unloading the wagon almost straight away, and inside the stores, four filliter tanks, that’s two men on each tank. You would take so many boxes off the wagon to fill these tanks, and while the eight filleters start cutting the fish, the rest of the staff would unload the fish and stack them alongside the bench, ready to start. And you kept this work up ‘til approximately nine o’clock when you were allowed a ten minute break.
Somebody being the youngest would put the kettle on and make the tea for everybody and then we’d go back on the bench, then you would, nine times out of 10, your boss would be on the mart with like three labourers buying fish and he would say, “all filleters on the mart,” meaning you had to go on the mart and head cod, and as we were heading them, there’s labourers would be dragging the cod back to the store and it would be packed automatically. It was, you couldn’t imagine how efficient the work, the job. Everybody knew the job off to a T.
So generally by half past 11, quarter to 12, we’d be finished on the mart and some would even go back on the bench and then at exactly five to 12 he would say have a dinner break. Then you would maybe go to a café, and get yourself something to eat, and then you would come back to work at one o’clock on the dot, then you would filet again, and then at about four o’clock, you would have a cup of tea, and then you would just work on, but if there work was there you’d just work ‘til 10 or 11 o’clock at night, you had to work. The job consisted of, if the work was there you’d do it.
But then on the other hand, if the weather was bad and there was no fish you could go to work in the morning, they’d generally have little bit of work for you, but it’s nothing for them to say, nine o’clock in the morning, “get yourselves away.”
John has 16 memories in the memorynet:
John's memories with a The North East theme:
- Working on the trawlers and moving to filleting
- Fish merchant's routine
- Ferry days
- The community on the Fish Quay
- Prawn fishing
- Filleting fish
John's other memories: