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.
The community on the Fish Quay
"It was a great community. They were rough, people were petrified of a lot them, like, but they were great"
It was a great community. They were rough, people were petrified of a lot them, like, but they were great. There was a laugh and a helping hand, you know what I mean. Like, if a man from one stall got put out of work, somebody on the quay would say, “well, there’s a job coming up there,” they wouldn’t hesitate to say, “there’s a job there.” It was very rare, like. Once you seem to come to the fish quay you seemed to stay there in them days. Alright, they might be moved around from store to store, but they were always, always down there.
And another thing about the Fish Quay, over 50 percent of the men on the Quay, you never knew what to call them because everybody had a nickname. Like my father’s name was Jonah, so I was Little Jonah and my granddad’s name was Peddler, and they had like sort of Danny the Gull, Buffalo Bill, Jumbo from Faroes, they had all these names. One stall that I used to go to called Welham’s on the Fish Quay, all their nicknames were Tom Wicks, Hoppalong, Cassidy - all cowboys’ names but you used to go up and for years and years, in fact people really thought my father’s name was Jonah- it’s George, but it wasn’t, you know what I mean. My name was John, but I was Little Jonah as far, more than 50 percent of the quay had nicknames- I can’t write them all off, like, but, you know, they’re just…
And even in the pub, they used to say, “there’s Little Jonah having a pint,” or, “there’s Big Jonah,” or, “I’ve just seen Tom, Dick or Harry on the road,” you know what I mean. They never said, “I’ve seen Mr Johnson along the road,” or anything like that, they were all. So it’s, “have you seen Tom Wicks along the road?” and they knew exactly who he was, or, “have you seen Danny the Gull?”, “he’s asleep under the nets over that corner.”
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: