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John Ellis

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.

Photograph of John Ellis
Photograph of John Ellis

The auction

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"When the auction’s on the go, nowadays we’ve got one auctioneer, but then there used to be about nine going at once"

When the auction’s on the go, nowadays we’ve got one auctioneer, but then there used to be about nine going at once, you know what I mean. One would be selling cod, one would be selling flat fish, one would be selling haddock, one would be selling turbot, one would be selling lemon sole, and if you were like one man band, you had to be in nine places at once, and your ear had to be dead alert, do you know what I mean, sort of. But now, as I say, we’ve only got one auctioneer.

And it’s, like, comic now compared to then. And everything was really noisy, because the bogies had steel wheels, these little potters, the engines would be going, and I used to think, well, “how can I hear anything above all this,” you know. The din- but everything, went, like, it just went along smoothly. The market never stopped, it never had to stop because somebody said, “I can’t hear anything,” and if you made a mistake, the salesman would say, “well, you’ve made a mistake, you’ve had it.” You know what I mean, you might be bidding, you might say, when, “was that one pound or two pounds?” you know what I mean, and then you’d bid and you find it was two pounds and you only wanted to pay a pound, but you couldn’t, there was no argument, you know, you couldn’t say, “I just don’t want it,” they said, well, you learn by mistakes.

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Change | Environment | Sounds and Smells | Work

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