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Heartfelt tribute to herring great

PUBLISHED: 17:27 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:32 03 July 2010

HERRING GREAT: Ray Newson

HERRING GREAT: Ray Newson

Dominic Bareham

A MOVING tribute has been paid to one of the last men with links to Great Yarmouth's herring fishing industry, who died last week.

Family and friends bade farewell to Ray Newson, who used to run the company G Newson and Sons, which became well-known for buying many of the drifters used at the height of the fishing boom.

A MOVING tribute has been paid to one of the last men with links to Great Yarmouth's herring fishing industry, who died last week.

Family and friends bade farewell to Ray Newson, who used to run the company G Newson and Sons, which became well-known for buying many of the drifters used at the height of the fishing boom.

Such names as Boy Ray, Phyllismary, Animation, Kitty George and Young Jacob became familiar sights to visitors to Yarmouth port and all were bought and operated by the company, founded by his father George.

Ray Newson died peacefully at his home in Longfellow Road, Caister last Wednesday at the age of 82. .

One man with good memories is family friend Lenny Barnes Jnr, 63, who recalled the excitement of skiving off school aged 12 and 13 to go out fishing with Ray in his skiff Shena.

He said on good days the pair could catch up to four cran, or 112 stone, of herring during a three hour stint starting from Yarmouth Jetty and would often return to Wellington Pier with the 16ft boat very nearly sinking under the weight of fish!

The catch would then be sold at the town's market.

Mr Barnes, whose father was a close friend of Ray's father George, said: “I had fishing in my blood because my father had it in his. It was the same experience as someone playing football, you could not explain it.”

Describing Ray, Mr Barnes said: “He was very down to earth and had a hell of a memory, but he did not suffer fools lightly. He was a very genuine, very kind hearted man. He dealt with anyone and he was always laughing and joking when we went out on boats.”

Born on January 6 1926, Ray grew up in Exmouth Road and worked down the mines at Welbeck Colliery during the second world war as a Bevan Boy while some of the miners were serving in the armed forces.

At the end of hostilities, he returned to Yarmouth and formed a partnership with his father in charge of G Newson and Sons where he used to repair the pallets which controlled the height of the drifters' nets in the water.

The pair used to buy the drifters and crew them with up to 11 fishermen.

At the height of the herring industry in the early 20th century there could be up to 2,000 boats fishing the waters around the town and in one year prior to the first world war 824,213 crans of herring was caught.

One of the biggest recorded catches by an individual vessel was achieved by The Beautiful Bough in 1953, which netted over 323 crans. Some drifters could make up to £53,000 a year through herring sales.

Following the decline of the herring industry, Ray changed his business to supply netting for use in back gardens but his company's headquarters in Main Cross Road was devastated by a fire in 1967 and the business never recovered.

Ray lived in Palgrave Road in Yarmouth in the 1960s before moving to Longfellow Road with his wife Patricia, who died in 1992.

He leaves three children: Brian, 47, Barry, 54 and Shena Graves, 58, as well as five grandsons and one granddaughter.


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