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.
"Well, when I fist started in the Fish Quay, all you wore, well, being a fish porter"
Well, when I fist started in the Fish Quay, all you wore, well, being a fish porter all you ever wore then was a pair of boots, leather boots, your ordinary trousers and an old jacket. You didnít even wear an apron if you were a layer-out. The only men that really sometimes wore an apron were the people that were actually aboard the boats. We used to be covered in slime all the time. We never washed the clothes, hardly, you know what I mean.
But the weather used to, we used to put a coat on so the rain never came through, and you didnít worry about getting cold or wet or anything like that, the only one who washed, ďyouíre soft, youíre soft,Ē and you could, I mean, if a person nowadays if they get wet on a cold day, they know what itís like, but this is every day and you went to work and you were freezing. As I say to my wife nowadays, when people get up in the morning, they go out the door, they get into the car, drive in a warm car all the way to work and then they walk across the office and tell the people in the office, ďitís cold out there.Ē They work there for eight hours, come out, and go back in the car and go back to a nice warm house.
My job is you get up in the morning, you drive to work in the car- Iíll admit itís warm in the car, but you go to the fish market, and I mean itís cold, thereís always a wind down on the fish market because itís so open to the elements. So itís really, really, cold, and I mean like sort of stinging cold some days. But nowadays, you can, the clothes are better that you wear on the quay, so itís not so bad as it was in the old days. Like I wear a thermal all in one suit now and it keeps me warm and sort of. Your hands still get cold and your face gets cold, but itís not as bad as in the old days.
And every, all fishermen, people that work on the Fish Quay in my day wore hats. I didnít, like, but most of them did. The reason why they had the cap on the head was they kept their cigarettes and their matches in the hat, right. So itís no good putting them in the clothes because they were always wet and their hand was always wet, but you would see them just flick the hat open and there would be the 10 woodbines and the pack of matches because that is the only dry place they ever had. There were no rules on smoking in them days, or health, you know what I mean, it was a bitÖ
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: