On Friday afternoon (22nd September) The statue of “The Herring Girl”, created by local sculptor Ray Lonsdale, was unveiled on North Shields Fish Quay. A large crowd, including some of our volunteers, had gathered to watch and they were royally entertained. The event was compered by Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne and three schools entertained the crowds with songs. New York Primary sang “The Cullercoats Fish Lass”, Christ Church Primary sang “Big River” and Spring Gardens Primary sang “When the Boat Comes in”. They sang their hearts out and should remember the day for years to come. The entertainment was rounded off when Billy Mitchell, also of Lindisfarne, joined Ray Laidlaw for a rendition of (you guessed it) “Fog on the Tyne”.
The boats then added some drama with the River Tyne Lifeboat sailing up and down and a tug boat sending powerful jets of water high in the air. Fortunately the wind was in the right direction and nobody on the Quayside got wet. At 2:00 pm the statue was finally unveiled by actress Brenda Blethyn, who Terry McDermott described as, “One of us,” because we see her so often in the area filming for the TV series Vera.
Congratulations to the North Shields Fishermen’s Project and particularly their chairman Terry McDermott. None of this would have happened without their vision, tireless fund-raising and determination to make it happen. You can read more about the statue by visiting the Fishermen’s Heritage Project website – Link to NSFHP website.
Remembering the Past volunteers are currently working with the group to collect memories of the Herring Girls. You will be able to read and listen to these memories on our website later this year when this work is complete.