Salmon Fishing and Boatbuilding in Norham

The largest boat ever built in Norham.

Photograph of the largest rowing boat my father ever built (around 1955). It was used for Salmon fishing from the beach at Bradden Fishery, Goswick, Northumberland and required four oarsmen.

Persons in photo are Billy Brown, Willie Hume, Mat Straughen, Raymond Purves, Douglas Simpson, Mr Patterson (owner), Tommy Simpson, Eric Hoare, Andy Stockdale and the crew of Bradden Fishery.

Salmon Fishing

Net boat and ShielOne of the saddest changes in the last 20 years has been the final disappearance of salmon net fishing as a major occupation in Norham. (Or indeed on the whole River Tweed - Apart from a few fisheries at Tweedmouth, and one or two others further up the river, all the fishing Shiels now stand empty and derelict.). This represents a break with tradition going back certainly the better part of 1000 years: a whole generation of children is now growing up who will never see salmon being caught in nets from cobbles on the shad at Pedwell Shiel, something previously in the experience of all who lived in this place.

In fact, so important was fishing to the village, that each year on the opening night of the Salmon fishing season, the Vicar of Norham came down to Pedwell fishery and performed the ceremony of the blessing of the nets - To help ensure the prosperity of the fishing community throughout the coming season.

Postcard depicting fishing at Berwick circa 1905
Postcard depicting salmon fishing at Berwick circa 1905.

This loss of the fisheries has really nothing to do with any lack of fish, or market for them. Rather it is a case of the "Vested Interests" using their money to buy out fishing-rights so that a few wealthy landowners might entertain their rich friends angling for salmon on this one of the best salmon rivers in the country.

For hundreds of years, the professional net fishermen and anglers happily co-existed, but once again money speaks and the net fishermen and many other persons who were dependant on the salmon (distributors, boatbuilders etc.) have now lost their livelihood.
Fishing below Norham Castle
Fishing below the Castle c. 1905

Pedwell Fishery c.1960

Pedwell Fishery May 2007, now completely derelict.