By Ron Wilkinson, Chair of STAND - St. Andrews Dock Heritage Park Action Group
The make-up of the fishing community covered a variety of jobs and trades.
The seagoing people and those who worked within the industry onshore were integrated through their relatives, marriage, and the workplace.
It has often been said that for every one fisherman employed there were seven people employed ashore in fish associated work.
Depending on how many vessels were landing the west Hull area was a hive of activity, with a vibrant, exciting environment each day of the working week. Monday was generally a day of heavy fish landings, as many as ten trawlers may bring their catch to market landing as much as 200,000 stones of fish.
With this volume of produce St. Andrews fish dock and the surrounding area began their working day when at around 2am in the morning bobbers started landing the catch.
In the 1960’s there were as many 150 deep sea distant water trawlers based at St. Andrews Fish Dock.
Each vessel had a crew of at least 20 men and there was always a surplus of crewmen ashore at any time. The number of men on the seagoing register was approximately 3,500.
It is not difficult to see the disastrous economic effect this had on the businesses and workforce of the city when the industry declined and eventually imploded because of Iceland, Norway and other countries extending their fishing limits thereby excluding British vessels from traditional fishing grounds.
The loss of much of the seagoing personnel was not the only workforce to suffer. The many fish merchants and processing companies employed many employees who were within a very short period, unemployed. With such many unemployed seeking work at the same time it was very difficult to find another job.
Some of the newly unemployed were skilled in a role that had no similar opportunity in the city, others were labourers but also suffered the same lack of opportunity.
Workers who had been employed in the fishing industry had in general earned a reasonable standard of living so to become unemployed in such a short time with very little time to adjust meant many experienced financial difficulties with things such as mortgages, rents and facility bills, i.e. gas, electric, and rates.
A percentage of the sea going men moved to the oil offshore fleets, which although and easier workload, paid less. A few even emigrated and went to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
A few shore based fish processing companies struggled on managing a supply of imported and overland fish supplies and are still active in the City to this day. Firms such as Simpson’s Fish, Smales Fish, both still located off Hessle Road.