Tiny Yorkshire fishing museum appeals for memories of centuries-old marine industry

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 April 2014

A historic fishing museum is calling on the public to help create a new book

A photo of a man looking out of the window through a nautical ring inside a museum
Michael Fearon at the Filey Museum in North Yorkshire© Tony Bartholomew
In 1968, as the building which is now the museum’s home faced demolition, the Filey Historical Society was given a last-gasp chance to preserve 800 years of fishing history in the North Yorkshire seaside town.

A photo of an old sign on a white wall
The museum's home dates from the late 17th century© Tony Bartholomew
Built in 1696, the space became a museum three years after Michael Fearon and his fellow volunteers were approached by the then-Filey Urban District Council.

“They offered it to us at the 11th hour,” says Fearon, looking ahead to the museum’s annual opening between Good Friday and October.

“We had no experience, no knowledge and no money. But we knew if we didn’t take it on, it would be demolished.”

The museum has received a Small Attraction of the Year award from tourism group Discover Yorkshire and, in the words of Welcome to Yorkshire, is “an absolute joy”. Now organisers are looking to enter the publishing world with the help of memories from locals.

“There’s been a fishing industry in Filey for at least 800 years, but it’s almost finished now.

“We’d like to document it, and want any stories or information with a view to putting together a book.

“It’s remarkable that such a small town was responsible for such a huge fishing fleet, especially as there’s no harbour.

“At one time, there were as many as 30 yawls – boats large enough to stay at sea for several days – fishing out of here, and they would sit on the beach when they weren’t at sea.

“The lifeboat is also a key part of the story – for 150 years at least, all the lifeboat crew were fishermen.

“With a history like that, there’s bound to be lots of dramatic stories and events that we don’t know about.”

  • Contributors can telephone Michael Fearon on 01723 513640.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A black and white photo of a group of men around a thin fishing boat
© Filey Museum
A black and white photo of a large group of fishermen standing in lines
© Filey Museum
A black and white photo of a fishing boat on a shore
© Filey Museum
A black and white photo of three fishermen standing on a beach
© Filey Museum
A black and white photo of a group of men in caps all of whom have beards
© Filey Museum
A photo of a large ancient maritime building
© Tony Bartholomew
A close-up photo of two blue and white fishing boats on a shore near a cliff
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