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To celebrate the launch of our new On Board the Arctic Corsair Virtual Workshop, which is available to all Heritage Learning Magical Museums Member Schools, we thought we would tell you why we think Hull’s fishing industry makes such a great local history topic.

Here's Charlie Trzeciak, our Community and Schools Learning Officer on why we think Hull’s maritime history is a brilliant way for KS1 and KS2 pupils to get a deeper understanding of their city and it’s past. In particular, we think that the story of Hull’s fishing industry, and the people who worked in it, is pretty amazing.

Obviously, we are biased!

1. Fishing helped to put Hull on the map.

The discovery in 1850 of a fishing ground 70 miles east of Spurn Point, which became known as the Silver Pits, helped make Hull one of the country’s biggest fishing ports. Before long, trawlermen from Hull were sailing to Iceland, Norway, Russia and beyond in search of fish. Fish landed at St Andrew’s Dock were sent to cities such as Manchester, London and Liverpool in order to help keep the nation fed, and Hull also became famous for its smoked haddock and kippers.

Fish being landed at St Andrew’s Dock in Hull
2. The fishing industry is a story about local people

The life of a trawlerman was hard. The average fishing trip lasted for three weeks and, when they were busy catching fish, trawlermen had to work 18 hours ‘on’ and six hours ‘off’. In those six hours, they would have to eat, wash and sleep, which meant that trawlemen often only got four hours of kip a night. Trawlermen sailed far to the north in search of fish, which meant they had to work in freezing conditions. Frostbite was a real danger and, if too much ice built up on a trawler, then there was a risk that it could turn turtle and sink.

The women of Hull’s fishing communities were also tough and determined. Following the Triple Trawler Disaster in 1968, the wives and daughters of trawlermen launched a campaign for improved safety at sea. Led by Lilian Bilocca, they gathered thousands of signatures in support of their campaign, and even travelled to Westminster to put their case for safety improvements to the government.

Trawlermen bringing in the nets
3. There are great opportunities for cross-curricular learning

The story of Hull’s fishing industry can be easily linked to other areas of the National Curriculum. For example, could pupils locate and find out more about the places that trawlermen sailed to as part of a geography lesson? Alternatively, why not explore the life cycle of Atlantic cod and the environmental impacts of fishing in a science lesson?

Atlantic cod were frequently caught by trawlermen from Hull
In conclusion…

We hope we have managed to persuade you that Hull’s fishing industry makes a great local history topic. If you are thinking about doing anything fishing related with your class, then why not ask us about our new On Board the Arctic Corsair Virtual Workshop? This session is available to be booked by all Heritage Learning Magical Museums Member Schools and, thanks to generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is free of charge.

There is also boatloads of information about fishing in Hull, and lots of other local history topics, on the Hull Curriculum. This inspiring online resource, which has been created by educators and historians to enable schools to enrich their History Curriculum, is available to all Heritage Learning Hull Curriculum Member Schools.

If you would like to find out more about any of the above, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Heritage Learning at or 01482 318 733.