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Women's Stories

The Project: 'Women's Stories: Reflections of women in fishing communities'

The project was established in April 2005 with funding provided by York St John University. Stephen Friend became the Project Director and Angela Bryan was appointed as the Research Assistant. Angela interviewed women in fishing communities along the Yorkshire coast and provided DVDs and Transcripts of all the tapes - copies of which will eventually be located in the various fishing communities.

As the work developed other possibilities began to emerge, and In October 2005 we were awarded a grant by the Local Heritage Iniative, which enabled us to purchase recording and copying equipment. The funds also allowed us to make a film based on interviews in Filey Scarborough and Whitby, and to develop an exhibition that gives some insight into the work. Details of the exhibiton are given below.

Sadly, by January 2006, Angela moved to other work. At the same time the developing project now demanded more administrative input and Suzanne Parkes was employed (again with financial support from York St John University) to help develop the work further. With Suzanne's help we have moved significantly forward and have already completed several of the the Local Heritage Initiative's requirements. In the autumn we will be working with schools and other local groups, and we look forward to the challenges and opportunities this presents. In the meantime we have been invited to present the exhibition in various venues and at various meetings, and we look forward to developing the exhibits further over the next year. In the meantime some details about the exhibiton are provided below.


Funding has been provided by the Local Heritage Initiative for this project. In return we were asked to meet the following conditions: to produce a travelling exhibition, make a film about the interviews (for sale as a DVD), work with schools and local groups to help people make use of oral history techniques in recording the history of their local communites, and to run some workshops. The film is now complete and will be on sale shortly. The exhibiton will be at the venues below on the dates given:

Hull: Blaydes House, Thur 25 May to Mon 5 June
Filey:Tourist Information Centre, Tues 6 June to Thur 22 June
Scarborough:Sea Cadetes Unit, Fri 21 June to Sun 23 June
Whitby:Tourist Information Centre, Mon 31 June to Fri 11 Aug
Isle of Skye: Sable Mor Ostaig, Isle of Skye, Fri 22 Sept to Sun 24 Sept
York:York st John University, Tue 10 Oct to Fri 20 Oct.

If you would like to know more about our project or would like to puchase a DVD, please email either or

Scarborough Interviews

In a recent interview in Scarborough Rachel(on left of picture) provided an insight into how she made ganseys

Mick, Tom, Rachel and Lindy

Interviewer (Alison): You were talking about knitting on a Wednesday. Ganseys were a popular form of dress for the men. Can you tell me a little about how these were made and about the different symbols on different ganseys.


Well, they were knit, proper fishermen's jerseys, on five needles. You had four needles and a working needle, so its five needles, steel needles, and every port had a different pattern. Now the idea being in sailing ships and things there were a lot of men lost and they didn't always get them back. But if they did they'd be beaten up with the sea and tide, and beyond recognition. Chances are the jerseys told them what area they came from and even who they were, and that's how the jerseys first started. Now Filey has some lovely patterns for fishermen's jerseys, very ornate, very fancy. So has Whitby. Scarborough pattern is a welt and then a plain part and then two plus two change. That's knit two, pearl two, and on your next row round change it. And when it gets to the shoulders, which is only for Flamborough and Scarborough, its called a saddle. Its three, like knitted lines, three times and then the whole, 'cos now you had the whole jersey together, its all in one piece, no casting on and casting it off, you do it double on the inside and to do that its very hard 'cos its very heavy for your hands.