North Shields Fishermen Heritage project to recognise women in the fishing industry

Written by on 5th November 2021

Image Credit – Ray Lonsdale

A campaign has been launched to raise £55,000 for a life-size sculpture to commemorate the role of women in the fishing industry.

The Herring Girls worked tirelessly to gut, salt, and pack all of the fish caught by local fishermen in North Shields despite difficult working conditions.

A non-profit organisation, North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project, is appealing for as many donations as possible to create a sculpture in the Herring Girls’ memory.

Project chairman Terry McDermott said: “We need to raise donations. That’s what makes things happen. But we will accept all offers of help from any volunteers who want to do something to help us.

Image credit – Keith Bays

“Donations have started coming in and currently we have raised over £5,000.”

The group have commissioned Ray Lonsdale, a local artist and steel fabricator, to produce the life-sized sculpture of the Herring Girl.

Lonsdale said: “The statue will take three months to manufacture and it is made from corten steel. This is a weathering steel that requires no maintenance.”

He added: “This sculpture will create a lot of affectionate love for when times were hard.”

The Herring Girls worked incredibly long hours in what was a very difficult job, yet retained a beautiful smile.

McDermott said: “My daughter Kerry noticed that the Herring Girl, despite the job she was doing in arduous conditions, had the most beautiful smile. We are going for smiling in the face of adversity with this sculpture.”

It is hoped that the sculpture will allow many locals, not just fishermen, to have a place to visit for reflection, peace and tranquillity.

The managing director of North Shields Fish Quay Company Limited Nik Hanlon said: “The sculpture will be fantastic for the fish quay and will draw more people to the area.”

Hanlon added: “It is also important to recognise the role women played in the fishing industry and this sculpture will help with that.”

To find out more about upcoming fundraising activities, how to donate to the campaign or how to volunteer, contact North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project via their Facebook page.

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