Slippery Fish on the Quays

Recollections of Arthur Lark (born 1911)

Transcribed from a recorded interview (August 2001)

"When I was a boy you see, that was staple diet, free more or less. My mum used to make pickled herring in a great big stone jar thing she had."

"Were you given them or were you picking them up, the ones that fell out?"

"Yeah, you'd grab them as they fell out on to the road. There was no end of fish about".

"They never tried to stop you then?"

"They did the latter part of the time, they used to shout at us boys. A lot of people would go there with those little frails (small baskets) and go and get a bagful as easy as anything. They was just laying about on the road, all slime and stuff. I can remember Station Road and the goods yard at the back of Station Road, round the back of South Town Station. When they turned off Southtown Road, there was that short distance to go before they reached the goods yard, you couldn't cross the road, it was all slop and slime where that was running out of carts. As they turned left out of Southtown Road, they were racing the horses along galloping, but then the carts all had holes in, all draining out, slime, and you certainly couldn't cross the road with normal shoes or boots. That was all slime, one mass of slime where that was continuous and I can see, see 'em now racing. Man coming round the corner and standing there whipping his horse. He was going full gallop, poor thing.

I learnt since then, those horses what worked up the fishwharf, lot of the time they never took the poor things out of the harness you know, they were in there all night. Yeah, they left them in the harness for work all night 'til they were wanted, yeah."