Memories of the Kipper Factory

Memories of the Kipper Factory
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Memories of the Kipper Factory

By Audrey Forrest

The Ouseburn has been home to many different industries over the years. Audrey’s father used to own the Kipper factory under Byker Bridge and she recalls her memories of it as a child.

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Memories of the Kipper Factory

By Audrey Forrest

So Audrey would you mind just telling me your memories of the family business in Ouseburn 

Right, not a lot, because I was just young

Can you tell me how long it had been open for?

How long, well my father he opened for a second time, his parents had it before that which are very very old now, all gone, they had a lot of workers there, had a lot of women that used to work on the benches air fish, curing the fish, then they used to put them on their rods and carry them to the smoke houses and then my father used to be in the smoke houses hanging them up and that was it

So it was a kipper factory wasn’t it? 


What was the name of it?

J Shields fish curer. 

And where about was it in the Ouseburn? 

Well there was Byker Bridge and it was right underneath it, under the bridge.

What was the Ouseburn like when you were younger? 

It was the sort of same really.

Was it an industrial place was it quite

There was a good few places, not a lot and they had the water that ran through it and people sometimes had their boats there and things like that

And you mentioned some stables 

Aye there used to be stables there years ago and they still kept them there for a while 

And what were the stables for

They used to have the horses before the vans

So the horses were used to then transport the kippers from the factory, where did they go after that? 

Well they had, they used to do all the coops, deliver kippers and everything, quite a lot of places

And did you like the kippers yourself? 

No I know they’re good for you but I didn’t like them 

So is there anything else you’d like to say about the factory before we sort of finish, anything else you remember about you know what it looked like and what your memories of it were

No, the factory was down below and we lived in a house up the banks and stairs, a big house, they done well off the factory

And what was that house like?

Very big, nobody had a house like ours

So the business must’ve been doing well then?

It did and then the war come along and they had to close the factory for a while and then they took it over again and my father took it over and all his relations was in with it, my aunties, my cousins, everybody knew everybody

So it was a real family business 


So why did it close during the war?

Well they couldn’t get the fish or anything like that

So how long was the factory open for after the war? You said it was reopened, how long did it remain open after that?

I can’t think how long 

You can’t remember?

No I was too busy 

Too busy doing what? 

Well I was young you see, busy with my things

So tell me a little bit about your childhood then when you said you were too busy what were you doing

I was all over the place I used to like to get in the vans when nobody was there and pretend I was driving and all the women that worked there all knew me because I used to go down to the kipper house every day and my father and shout him ‘can I have some money for a penny dip‘ he’d say ‘yes, upstairs on the back of the chair my money’s there’ my mother knew that but she never told us

So what was a penny dip? 

Just put your hand in a box, get something, sweets and stuff like that 

So how did you entertain yourself as a child then, what games did you play?

Just pretend things you know getting dressy ups and because I had a sister there as well 

Did you do a lot of playing outside or inside?

No I didn’t go outside that much because I didn’t know the people and I wasn’t a good mixer 

Were you quite shy?


So did you do a lot of playing inside, in the house?

Yes, it was a happy life.

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Beyond the Map

Community groups come together to record stories about Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley.

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