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Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields Fish Quay – can you help with our next exhibition?

We’re seeking help with our next exhibition, Women’s Work – their lives on the Fish Quay. If you can knit, or if you have interesting stories about women working on North Shields Fish Quay, past and present, read on!

Over the past couple of months a small team of volunteers has been researching and carrying out early work for this exhibition which will tell the story of how over many years, women have played an important role in the fishing and related industries. 

So far, they have been focusing on the journey of the herring girls who followed the fishing fleet every year from the north of Scotland, down the east coast, cleaning and curing the catch at ports on the way, including North Shields. While they waited for the boats to arrive, these women could often be seen on the quayside knitting ‘gansies’ and socks for themselves and their families. 

The volunteers have brought together much information about local women, who also worked as herring girls and who supported other parts of the fishing industry. 

We don’t know when the exhibition will open. We’re hoping it could be later this year but the timing will obviously depend on the lifting of restrictions by the Government. In the meantime, we want to make sure that there is new material in our galleries for when it is safe to welcome back visitors to the Old Low Light.

You can help in different ways: 

Knit a herring – as part of the exhibition, we’re planning a display of knitted herring. If you would like to help, you can download a pattern from here

The herring can be knitted in any colour wool. If you need wool just let us know (email info@oldlowlight.co.uk) as someone has already generously donated a supply. When we reopen, you will be able to bring your handiwork to the Old Low Light and we will begin assembling the display. We will be running a competition with two categories – under 16s and over 16s, with café treats as prizes, so – if you want your herring to be considered for a prize – please attach a label which clearly states your name and telephone number or email.


Once donated, your fish will become part of our collection of exhibits for this and future exhibitions (so we won’t be able to return it/them to you).

Tell us your stories about women working on the Fish Quay – this could be about your own experiences past or present, or about a friend or family member. It doesn’t have to be about the fishing industry. It could be about women who have or who are currently working on the lifeboats or in other maritime-related industries. 

Photographs will be very welcome. You can either email information to info@oldlowlight.co.uk or send us your contact details so that one of the volunteers can ring you to talk about your story.

Watch out for further information about this exhibition on our Facebook and Twitter sites.

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