Fish Quay Facts

Burning the witches fingers

In periods of poor luck and poor fishing, when boats around you are doing well and their fishing is generally good, this would signal to some they had a witch holding onto them, or other evil spirits, sometimes the devils or the gremlins depending on where you are from. There are many interpretations of this depending on the area. It is believed to have been a Viking tradition before leaving on a voyage.

A torch made of a stick of wood, (usually a piece of fish box) with a rag tied around the end it is is soaked in a flammable material and lit; the flame must touch the outside of the vessels rail. Starting at the point of the stern it is passed right around the rail (on later vessels, the railings of the whaleback were cleansed to continue the circuit), until you reach the point of the stern again. The flame must stay in contact with the rail all the way around. If the flame goes out it must be started again.

This cleanses the rail, making the witches release their grip on the boat and they can no longer hold you in their spell.Sometimes the masts are cleansed in the same wayOnce the vessel has been cleansed with the flame and the witches grip released, standing in the stern, the flame is held aloft by whoever is doing the cleansing then shouts “and never return” and the flame is tossed from the point of the stern into the sea and extinguished.

Did you know?

It is advise that fresh Mackerel be ate on the day of purchase

There was an electric power station built on Tanners Bank in 1901 at a cost of £5.533 by Tynemouth Council but demand for power soon made it redundant and it closed within 9 years.

The word Turbot comes from the Old French word 'tourbout', which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo ("spinning top") a possible reference to its shape.

Skate is a member of the shark family

Tanners bank is so named because there was a tannery there.

Union Road is so called because it unites both banks of the pow burn which still runs into the gut.

There were at one time up to 158 Inns & Tavern in the Lower Town on the Fish Quay

A male crab is called a cock

Squid ink is widely used in making pasta and risotto

Graeme Cuthell from Irvins used to be a private chef for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

Ichthyophobia is the fear of touching fish

There have been six Wooden Dollies on the Fish Quay

Fishermen would never coil a rope facing the sun or no whistle aboard.

Clifford's Fort was named after the Lord High Treasurer Thomas Clifford

In 1877 Tugowner William Purdy fitted trawl gear to the Messenger - and introduced steam trawling to the Tyne

Omar from Sambucas is not Italian!

Stan Laurel (Laurel & Hardy), who used to live in Old Dockwray Square.

The High Lights & Low LIghts worked by aligning the two lights up as you entered the Tyne, this would then give you the passage into which to pass up the river.

A woman on a ship or a fishing vessel was believed to be unlucky, and said to anger the sea. However a naked woman would embarrass the sea and it would remain calm. I think that is why sailing ships had figureheads depicting semi clad and naked women.

In 1849 a Cholera epidemic in North Shields affected 1 in every 22 people resulting in the death of 337 - the infected figure being 727

Don't feed the seagulls with chips, its not good for their diet

Fishing at "Shiels" was created by the Monks from Tynemouth Priory as a source of food for themselves.

The Fish Market for the river up until the 1800's was at Newcastle.

North Shields became a Port in its own right in 1833.

By mid Victorian times, North Shields had become synonymous with drunkenness and prostitution.

In the 1930's some 300 folk were employed in the North Shields Smoke Houses

Fishermen are superstitious and refer to salmon as 'red fish'

Boat would turn back if a sailor uttered the word pig on deck?

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The Smokehouses