A FISHERMEN’S charity is on a mission to make sure it is not forgotten as times change on the Tyne.
The Fishermen’s Mission has had a presence on North Shields Fish Quay since 1899.
In 1953 it moved into new headquarters on the quay which had accommodation for sick or stranded fishermen, cafe, showers, rest room and chapel.
But as the fishing industry shrank in scale, the mission moved out more than two yearn s ago to smaller premises near the Fish Quay’s historic Low Light.
The mission’s former building is now an Italian restaurant – one of seven restaurants as the make up of the Fish Quay has changed.
So on Monday the mission, which provides support to fishermen and their families, is staging a “Fishmish Extravaganza” to remind visitors that it is still part of the Fish Quay and its heritage.
The 10am-4pm event will feature stalls and a selling exhibition of the work of Whitley Bay fisherman/artist Michael Smith. His new painting of the Fish Quay, which will feature as the mission’s Christmas card this year, will be on show.
North Shields Photographic Society will also be putting on a display. Retired fish wholesaler Alex Hastie, who has been associated with the Fish Quay for more than 50 years, will lead heritage walks at 11.30am and 1pm, while retired fisherman Ray Morse will also give talks on his working experiences at 11am, noon and 1.30pm.
Music will be provided by the band of the North Shields sea cadets from 10.30am-11.30am and from 2pm by the North Tyneside steel band.
Mission superintendent Peter Dade said: “There have been changes in the fishing industry and the Fish Quay. We moved from our previous building because of the sheer cost of running such a big building, and we are a charity. But boats are still coming in and we want to raise awareness about what we do and that we are still here. We are still part of the Fish Quay and we are proud of that.” In the early 19th Century up to 500 boats could be berthed in Shields harbour.
In 1899 a mission building on the Fish Quay was opened by trawler owner Richard Irvin, whose own former headquarters has now been converted into apartments.
The mission was open from 5am-10pm daily, offering everything from first aid to a postal stop for letters from fishermen’s homes.
The mission had a particularly important role in wartime. In the First World War, many fishermen served in the trawler section of the Royal Naval Reserve.
Nationally, 672 trawlers and drifters and 14 minesweepers were sunk.