Memorial to lost North Shields fishermen to be unveiled

Renowned sculptor Ray Lonsdale working on the memorial. Picture by Alison Spedding
Renowned sculptor Ray Lonsdale working on the memorial. Picture by Alison Spedding

A memorial to lost fishermen in North Shields is to be unveiled at the weekend.

The impressive sculpture, named Fiddler’s Green, which stands 10ft 6ins tall, will be moved into place at its permanent home at Clifford’s Fort, on the Fish Quay.

Members of the public are invited to the official unveiling at the Fiddler’s Green Day event on Sunday, from 11am to 1pm.

There will be live music from local acts followed by a parade of fishermen before the grand reveal at 12.30pm.

The memorial will then be blessed and there will be a rendition of the song Fiddler’s Green.

One of those who will be speaking at the event, and unveiling the memorial with Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn, is Julie Myhill, whose partner James Noble was the last fisherman to lose his life after leaving the North Shields port.

James was the skipper of a fishing trawler which sank off the Northumberland coast in 2014, claiming his life as well two of his crew.

Henry Howard, vice-chairman of North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP), said: “North Shields was built on the fishing industry and is still the largest prawn-landing port in England.

“A memorial to its lost fishermen is long overdue and we are delighted that with the help of the local community, businesses and North Tyneside Council, this is about to be put right.”

Mr Howard, a retired local fisherman, came up with the idea of the memorial.

A campaign to raise the £75,000 needed to make the idea a reality was launched by the NSFHP. Thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses, and the support of North Tyneside Council and Places for People and Urban Splash – the companies who are working in a joint venture to regenerate the Smith’s Dock shipyard site – the money was raised in less than a year.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale, the man behind the Tommy sculpture in Seaham, was chosen to create the memorial following a public vote. It is inspired by an image of a fisherman taken in 1959 by local photographer Harry Hann.

The sculpture will be installed on land on the Fish Quay known as Fiddler’s Green, which in 19th-century maritime folklore was a kind of afterlife for sailors and was a place where there was never-ending merriment.

It is hoped that the memorial will become an example of ‘destination art’ and boost tourism and businesses in the area.