Thursday, 10 May 2012

Fishermens Ganseys part two.

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.


Making It Vintage said...

Ethel sounds like a fascinating character Jill........I used to have long conversations with my grandad when I was young about life in the 1930's and later on the second world war......I do miss him. x

Making It Vintage said...

I've just noticed I don't seem to be on your followers list, it must have been deleted when I deleted my blog..........I've re-followed. x

Jill Chandler said...


♥ the quiet homemaker said...

How amazing. I'm just trying to imagine how tricky it would be to unravel the sleeve of a gansey that had been soaked and dried, over and over again with salty water and sun. It must have been almost felted by the time the sleeves were worn out. Such patience!

Thanks for your bloggy snippets about local history, I'm loving it! :) xx

BadPenny said...

Fascinating snippets of local history you give us & so interesting.
Some people think that Roddy doesn't wear a wedding ring because of the safety issues on a boat... it's just that he can't stand man jewelery & only wears a watch ! I can't imagine knitting him a sweater but it's a sweet custom.

christinelaennec said...

What a great post - hats off to Ethel! Those girls worked so hard, but it seems as if they had a laugh and so much solidarity as well. But it beats me how you could knit a stitch after gutting fish in the freezing cold all day. They were made of stern stuff.

I hadn't realised about the men not wearing wedding rings and the significance of the pattern.