Ethel with the gansey she knitted.
The pattern on this is 'Marriage Lines' and once married the Herring girl knitted her Loon this gansey showing to all that he was now a married man. They could not wear a wedding ring for safety issues.
The gansey was knitted on the round so there were no seams. So that they would not rub on the skin. The sleeves were knitted from the top down. Reason being the sleeves wore out faster than the rest. If they did then the wifie unpicked back up and reknitted the sleeve. The sleeves also finished above the wrist to again prevent chafing. And none of your polyester, pure wool, which resisted wet.
Ethel joined other herring girls and went on strike during the early 1950s.
There were occasions where these easy going lasses had to fight for better working conditions and pay and participated in strikes, One of these strikes took place in great Yarmouth where the girls demonstrated their solidarity by striking for a rise of two pennies per barrel. which would bring them to in line with shields and the Scottish ports who were paying one shilling per barrel. Some of the older women were reluctant to join in the strike fearing for their jobs and the loss of the much needed income, the young girls tried to encourage and reassure these women that their jobs would be safe and to support the strike. The women still would not hear of it, the young strikers wasted no more time reasoning with them and turned the powerful sea water hoses on the reluctant women who soon turned in favour of the strike.
The outcome was that they got their rise. BUT. The company packed the barrels with more fish, which meant they girls had to do more work for their money. Nothing changes does it?
Imagine sorting this lot out for one shilling (10p) per barrel.
Ethel 'followed the herring'. The season started up here in the North East of Scotland and the girls followed the herring right down the east coast. Just amazing. I hope to speak more to Ethel, as to me she is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Such history. Such stories. Fascinating.
And all began for me with the Fishermens Ganseys.