If you are looking for a way to celebrate the history and heritage of North Shields, you might want to visit the new Herring Girl statue that was unveiled on September 22nd by actress Brenda Blethyn.
The statue, created by artist Ray Lonsdale, pays tribute to the women who worked in the fishing industry from the 18th century to the 1960s, following the shoals of herring along the coast and gutting, salting and packing them for sale. The Herring Girl is a life-sized sculpture that depicts a young woman sitting on a barrel, holding a fish in each hand. She is located on the North Shields fish quay, not far from the Fishermen's Memorial that commemorates the lives lost at sea. The statue was funded by local businesses and residents on behalf of the North Shields Fishermen's Heritage Project, with support from North Tyneside Council. The unveiling ceremony was attended by about 300 school children, Lindisfarne musicians Billy Mitchell and Ray Laidlaw, and relatives of former herring girls.
The statue is a reminder of the hard work and resilience of these women, who faced long hours, harsh weather and physical challenges. They were an essential part of the local economy and culture, and their story deserves to be remembered and honoured. If you want to learn more about the herring girls and their role in North Shields' history, you can visit the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, where you can find exhibits, photographs and stories about them. You can also join one of the guided walks or talks that are organised by the heritage centre or the fishermen's project.
The Herring Girl statue is a beautiful addition to the fish quay and a fitting tribute to the women who made it their home. It is a must-see for all history enthusiasts and those interested in the local heritage.