Kippers are a hit on the web

A traditional smokery is building up sales around the world with a little help from a Northumberland technology business.

A traditional smokery is building up sales around the world with a little help from a Northumberland technology business.

The growing influx of visitors to the Northumberland coastal resort of Seahouses has seen a soaring demand for herring and salmon smoked in the traditional way in the 19th century smoke houses of Swallow Fish Limited, a family business run by ex-fisherman Patrick Wilkin and his wife Karen.

Despite the fact the local fishing fleet has been badly hit by restrictions on North Sea catches, such is the call for Seahouses kippers that Patrick is now ordering more than 50 tons a year of herring caught and frozen aboard Norwegian and Icelandic trawlers fishing in the waters surrounding the two countries.

The herring are transported by road to Swallow Fish where they are split, brined, then hung on tenterhooks for 12 to 15 hours, being smoked over mounds of oak sawdust emerging as sought-after kippers.

Patrick and Karen are building up sales even further by launching their own website to sell vacuum packed fish online.

The wesbite also gives a history of the firm, illustrated with a selection of old postcards.

The Wilkins' fresh fish shop in South Street is to be extended early next year to provide more space for displaying its wares and to provide more room for customers.

The website was designed by Rothbury-based creative marketing company, Lazy Grace Limited.

The company has been building a varied customer base since its offices were opened by the Duchess of Northumberland in 2005.

Started by John Tait, the business now runs contracts for blue- chip companies such as drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, as well as regional names such as The Alnwick Garden, Doddington Dairy and Northumberland National Park.

Mr Tait, who once wrote the Top Tips column in Viz comic, also works for well-known Northumberland artists, musician Kathryn Tickell and painter Mary Ann Rogers.

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