Henry Harrisse.

Britain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries online

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The single - boaters, on the other hand,
possess a roving commission and are free
to select their own fishing grounds, and so
long as they justify this freedom of action
by results are not interfered with by their
employers. The men commanding such
vessels resort to all sorts of methods to
conceal the grounds they have been working
in the event of one of them meeting with




exceptional luck. Should, say, the steam
trawler Amelia arrive at Grimsby with a
good catch, next time she leaves port she
is certain to be shadowed by a dozen other
vessels intent upon gaining her secret. This
the Amelia s skipper will do his best to
guard, and will, perhaps, steam away
in a totally different direction to the
region of the North Sea he is actually
bound for. Then, when night comes on,
he will choose a favourable opportunity
to cover his lights, and by steaming
back on his own tracks endeavour to
shake his pursuers off. If successful his
secret may remain secure for another
trip, but, sooner or later, it is certain to
be discovered, and he will then find
himself in company with twenty other
vessels, all intent, like hungry vultures,
in securing a share of the spoil.

I he fleets of trawlers are entirely en
gaged in supplying the London market,
and for this purpose a regular service
of carriers, whose duty it is to run out
to the fleets and collect the fish caught
by the vessels composing them, has been
organised. In consequence the grounds
over which such fleets can fish are re
stricted, being governed by the distance
the carrier is capable of steaming in a
given time to catch the Billingsgate
Market. On the other hand the single-
boater, with her ice-lockers well filled,

goes as far north as Iceland,
and works wherever the depth
of water and the nature oi
the bottom permit of suc
cessful trawling being done.
The takes of fish on the
Iceland grounds are some
times enormous. The illus
tration on page 68 gives a
good idea of the immense
catches made; the fish shown in the
net representing only a fourth of the
total haul, which was so great that
it had to be taken on board in
instalments. This splendid catch of
fish was made by a steamer after towing her
trawl net for four hours only, and consisted
of two hundred trunks of fish weighing in
the aggregate upwards of seven tons.

The lives of the men employed in both
these branches of trawling are ones of
incessant toil, the net being hauled and
lowered at stated intervals, night and day ;
but of the two, fleeting is the least popular,
as the voyages, lasting twice as long as



those of the single-boaters, entail longer
absences from home. The crews have also
to face the risks incurred in ferrying fish
from their own vessels to the carriers, a
proceeding, in bad weather, accompanied by
a considerable element of risk, a danger
the crews of single-boaters are not called
upon to face. A great many lives have

eloquently testified to by the roll call issued
by the Hoard of Trade, which records the
fact that during the last ten years 1,790 men
have been lost through their vessels founder
ing or being missing, while the individual
losses account for a further 796. The
greatest loss of life of recent years was in
the great gale of February, 1894, when 200
men perished in a single night, the majority
being lost through their vessels foundering
with all hands.

It is amongst the fleets of steam trawlers
that the hospital vessels of the Royal
National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen
have worked with so much success, sharing
alike the danger and disappointment of the
smacksman s life. These vessels are admir
ably equipped, and possess small hospitals
capable of accommodating six to ei^ht

o *>

patients needing nursing as the result of


been lost in this way or from
small boats during the last few
years. In the days of sailing-
smacks the voyage sometimes
extended to ten or twelve weeks,
the minimum being eight weeks,
but since the advent of the
steam trawlers the length of the
voyages has been governed by
the state of the coal bunkers.

As some idea of the extent
of the trawling industry, it may
be interesting to state that the
two premier fishing ports of
Grimsby and Hull have a capital of at least
four and a quarter millions invested in steam
trawlers, while the total value of the fish
landed in the United Kingdom in one year
(1900), taken at the average price of i ] d.
a pound, was .9,688,000. Such a food
supply, close at hand, to a country largely
dependent on outside sources for the means
of existence cannot be over-estimated. An
average year s catch would thus, by a com
parison of weight, be equal to a flock of
10,263,220 sheep and 1,047,267 cattle.

The risks of the fisherman s calling are


accident or illness, and are so up-to-date as
regards their surgical equipment as to. possess
the Rontgen Ray apparatus. The Society s
fleet of vessels all bear the words " Heal the
Sick " on their port bow, and " Preach the
\Vord " on their starboard one, and these
few simple words eloquently express their
mission. The surgeon, who combines the
dual office of doctor and missioncr, can
generally count upon having a busy time
each morning attending to his patients, one
of the most plentiful causes for his skill
being poisoned fingers and hands resulting



from pricks from fish bones during the
process of cleaning.

A good storv is told of a \\"est of England
clergyman who once got himself into an
awkward fix. I le \vas addressing a congre
gation at a fishermen s meeting, and with
the object of adapting his remarks to his
hearers used various nautical similes. He
spoke of the noble figure of the captain
navigating his ship through narrow, winding
channels, abounding in rocks and strong
currents, and described in detail the diffi-


culties of the voyage, with all the eloquence
he could muster, even repeating some of the
imaginary captain s orders, and thus working
his audience up to a fine suspense. At last
the vessel was in the most imminent peril,
with rocks and breakers ahead. And now
"What shall we do? What shall we do?"
he called out ; and a voice from the congre
gation replied, " Bless your soul, guv nor,
that captain of yourn can t do nothin , for
he s sailing his ship starn foremost." From
all of which it is evident that it is well for
landsmen to resist the temptation to embark
upon nautical metaphor and from attempting
to sail imaginary ships in the presence of

The monotony of the fisherman s existence
is indescribable, being only broken by the
unending task of hauling and lowering the

trawl, a process in which every man naturally
takes the keenest interest, since he shares
in the profits of the voyage. Even with
this semi-gambler s spirit of uncertainty
entering into his work, it must often be
difficult for a fisherman to take any interest
in the trawl and its contents, for in winter
time the process of " pawing " in the net on
an icy cold night, which is done entirely
bv hand, followed by a further spell on
deck to clean and pack the fish away,
entailing perhaps an hour and a half of the
hardest work imaginable, with frequent duck
ings of sea water, is enough to damp the
spirit of the most buoyant nature. Yet,
in spite of all the drawbacks and hardships
of his calling, the average fisherman is
possessed of a Mark Tapley fund of good
spirits, and though he may return below
too dog-tired to remove his sodden clothing
before turning into his bunk again, his next
summons on deck will be met with a cheery
response. The more successful a trawler is,
the harder becomes the work of her crew.
Probably the most bitter disappointment a
fisherman is called upon to endure is, on
hauling his net, to find it has been rent to
pieces by some obstacle on the bottom, and
that the fish for which he has worked so
hard have escaped, entailing the abandon
ment of his well-earned rest below until the
damage has been repaired.

The names of the principal fish caught in
the trawl are plaice, haddock, cod, halibut,
turbot, and soles, the kind taken in the
greatest quantity being the haddock, and the
next the plaice. These fish all frequent the
bottom of the sea, and are caught by the net
sweeping along and embracing them within
its meshes.

The drift-net fishermen are engaged in
the capture of surface fish, such as the
herring, pilchard and mackerel, the method
employed being in all cases the same. The
herring fishery is by far the most important,
its yield in one year amounting to ,2,177,836
sterling. The fishery commences in July
off the Orkney Islands, whither the Scotch
and English boats proceed to meet the shoals.
As the season advances, the fish work their
way further and further south, until in
October they arrive in large quantities off
Yarmouth and Lowestoft, remaining until



just before Christmas, when they totally
disappear until the following" year. The
type of vessels engaged in the herring
fisheries are known as luggers, and are
equipped with nets capable of stretching
out nearly three miles. The plan followed
is to lay these nets out in a continuous line
with a buoy attached to one end of them,
while the other end is fastened to the lugger
itself. At stated intervals a buoy is attached,
and the net allowed to float away with the
tide. Occasionally such a number of herrings
become entangled in the meshes of the nets
that they are carried down to the bottom
by the weight of the fish caught. A catch

of herrings landed at Yarmouth on
one occasion, taken in a single night,
realised 180, and must have contained
somewhere in the region of a quarter
of a million fish.

A lugger s nets and equipment are
worth 350, and in the height of the
season, off the Kast Anglian Coast, it
is no exaggeration to say that between
5,000 and 6,000 miles of nets are laid
out, watched by 18,000 to 20,000 men
and boys. The number of herrings
landed in a recent season totalled up
to the enormous number of 2,136
millions; and as an illustration of what
these figures mean it ma}- be pointed
out that such a catch was sufficient to
permit every man, woman and child
in the United Kingdom making a
breakfast off herring once a week
throughout the year.

The annual catch of mackerel takes place
off the Scillics and the South of Ireland, and
yields a quarter of a million sterling to the
wealth of the country, while the Cornish pil
chard fisheries produce 25,000 a year, and
the sprat fisheries 18,000. Shell fish account
for another 437,000, and may be said to
conclude the list of important sea fisheries.

It is difficult to state the number of
persons directly or indirectly depending upon
the treasures of the sea for their livelihood,
but enough has been said to show that they
form, from more than one point of view, a
very numerous and important body of men.

Except u hea otherwise acknowledged, tfie illustrations accompanying this article are from photographs and original drawings

kindly lent by the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.



TJ I K potter\ workers of Great Britain at
present number 70,000, of whom
about 25,000 are women and children.
When to these figures are added the much
larger number of those engaged in other
branches of ceramics, including red bricks
and tiles, white-glazed bricks, fire-bricks,
and all classes of sanitary goods, the extent
of the industry will be more fully realised.

fatlur to son and from mother to daughter.
For, it may be noted, in pottery work deft
ness of hand and lightness of touch afford
admirable opportunity for the employment of
women and children. In many processes
these are occupied to the entire exclusion of
men, and with the most satisfactory results.
In order to afford some idea of the general


characteristics and condition of the potter s



Two-thirds of the domestic ware produced in
this country is sent out from the small group of
towns adjoining I lanleyand Stoke, and usually
classed as the " Staffordshire Potteries." In
this district has been centred for many years
the best experience and the most able crafts
men of the trade ; so that, through the
traditions of several generations, the manu
facture has arrived at its present high
condition of excellence. As in the case of
some textile industries, the best traditions
of the craft have been handed down from

craft, we cannot do better than venture upon
a short visit to one or two typical factories.

On entering at the wide iron gates, we are
confronted by the timekeeper s office, at which
every worker registers his entrance. Small
workshops and lofty machine-rooms seem
to fill up the enclosure in apparently irregular
confusion. Here and there an assistant is
crossing from one shop to another with some
piece of ware to be matched. \Ye find that
on the ground floor, where we now stand, we
are brought into contact with three distinct


branches of the \vork : the raw material is
being" prepared, the manufactured goods are
being fired, and finished ware is being packed
for delivery.

Here are huge lorries bringing in heavy
loads of the raw material to be prepared and
made plastic for use. The white lumps of
china clay from Cornwall, the grey and
irregular masses of plastic clay from Dorset
shire, the quartz-like cubes of salmon-
coloured felspar from Sweden, heaps of black
flint boulders from Dieppe, loads of saggar
marl from the immediate locality all these
are gathered together to contribute to the
complete formation of earthenware or china.

As we follow the drivers we find them
unloading their burdens upon great heaps of
similar materials, from which supplies are
taken as wanted. Here are great octagon
tanks into which a bespattered worker is
shovelling the various ingredients to be
ground and agitated in water, and looking
within we see hundreds of gallons of a kind
of thick white cream churned up by rotary
paddles. This, when consolidated, will form
the plastic material of the ware.

This cream}- substance is pumped into large
box-like receptacles, having many partitions,
between each of which canvas bags are fixed.
These retain the clay, allowing the water to



filter through. In these " filter-presses, as
they are called, the clay is made supple and
fit for use. We see the men unbolting the
wooden trays which form the sections of
these boxes, while others are removing the
canvas bags from the plastic clay, peeling
them off to be washed for future use. The
clay within is rolled together like dough, and
next thrown into the " pug-mill," which is
neither more nor less than a huge sausage
machine. From the lower end of this the
consolidated clay exudes in a long square
stream ready to be formed into ware, as
we shall see presently, on the upper floors.
W T e are tempted, on passing, to glance into
a large, beehive-looking shed or building,
where the glowing fires within light up the
interior. This is the " hovel," and within the
space seems to be filled by the tall, conical
furnace or "oven." Here a fireman appears
to be recklessly shovelling unlimited fuel into
sundry openings in the circular wall of the
oven. It is difficult to realise that packed
within at the present moment are thousands
of pieces of incandescent ware now being
embellished and perfected instead of de
stroyed by their fiery ordeal. Like some
all-devouring monster whose hunger is in
satiable, the radiant "fire-hole" greedily
consumes the apparently bountiful supply.
But there is absolute method and accuracy
in all that is taking place. Not a trifle
more fuel is allowed when the fireman s



experienced eye tolls him, by the glowing
heat of the interior, that the gla/.e on the
surface of the ware will have become fused
and brilliant. Quickly he handles a long
iron rod, waiting till, with a heavy crowbar,
an assistant has removed a small brick from
the doorway of the oven. Through this
opening he inserts the hooked rod, and deftly
draws forth the test piece all glistening and
radiant. Watching the texture and colour
as it cools, he is able to assure himself that
his judgment has been correct. The fires are
allowed to burn down, the openings are closed,
and in some thirty to forty hours the finished
ware will be drawn out smooth and shining


in its porfect form.

\Ve now ascend to the upper floors, where
the materials are converted into the various
forms we have seen below, and in the
"Thrower s shop" a new revelation awaits us.

The thrower whom we here see pro
ducing such graceful shapes and delicate
outlines has but his hands and fingers for
tools. With these alone he is able to evolve
things artistic and beautiful from the shape
less clay which he handles. Sitting astraddle
before a shallow triangular wooden tray, he
takes a lump of the plastic material and
throws it down upon the small revolving
table before him, to which it adheres.



As it rapidly spins round he wets and clasps
it between his two wet palms, shaping it
quickly into a cone. Then, plunging his
thumbs within, the form of a rough vessel
appears as if by magic, before we are able to
see how this strange evolution has taken place.
By gentle manipulation of his fingers he
next appears to lead the plastic mass upwards
into outlines and shapes of any form he wills,
until we are inclined to believe that the
process must be so easy that we ourselves
could accomplish it.

We now enter the "Pressing shop" or shed.
Here each worker, batting out on a plaster
table a large sheet of soft clay, lifts it into
a hollow mould made
of plaster, pressing it
with a pad into all
its outlines. In a few
hours the porous
mould which supports
the clay within will
absorb the moisture,
and can be removed,
the dish or other ob
ject still retaining the
desired shape. In
this way all vessels
are made which have
not a circular form.
Further on, in what is known
as the " Jollying room," we obtain
GLASGOW. an insight into the manufacture



of plates and cups. Simple yet rapid is the
process here carried on. The clay so readily
assumes the finished shape that the eye
can hardly follow the action. Some of the
machines used work automatically, the work
men being only required to place the ball of
clay upon the revolving table of the machine,
which in a few seconds smooths and flattens
it into a pancake-like piece. When this pro
cess has completed itself, the workman deftly
lifts the cake of clay upon a revolving mould,
which is shaped in the form of the inside
of the plate. Slightly moistening the surface,
he sets the machine in motion. This brings
down upon the outer surface of the clay a
tool which removes all superfluous substance.
In the course of a few seconds the tool rises
again automatically, leaving the finished clav

" bungs " as closely as possible till the whole
interior is filled, and, after the entrance is
bricked up, the fire is started.

When again cooled, the oven is opened
and the saggars removed to the " Biscuit
warehouse." Seated amidst piles of ware of
bewildering variety are a number of women
dressed in white overalls and head-gear, who
rapidly examine and dust each piece, clinking
them noisily against each other to detect any
which are cracked. Other assistants con
stantly remove them in sets, as required, to
the "Printing shop."

Designs engraved on copper plates serve

plate upside down upon the mould. Both
together are lifted out of the revolving cup
which has held them firm, and transferred
into the outer room until the moisture is

When thoroughly dried and examined, the
ware is taken to the "Placing room," where
it is packed into large, oval, fire-clay boxes,
termed " saggars." These protect the surface
from dust and scorching during the firing.
As soon as each saggar is filled it is borne
away to the oven. Kighteen or twenty
are piled on each other in columns or


for the decoration of most earthenware in
this stage. The colour, moistened with oil,
is spread over the hot copper ; then with a
knife and a rubber all is removed except that
retained in the engraved lines.

Laying a moist sheet of tissue paper on
the engraving, the printer runs it through the
roller-press. This transfers the design to
the paper, which is now handed to the
transferrer. Quickly, with a huge pair of
dressmaker s scissors, she snips away the
superfluous paper, fitting the design to its
place on the piece of ware, and with the butt
end of a long roll or pad of flannel vigorously
rubs the paper on to its position. Plunging



this object into a large tub of
clean water, the paper is easily
removed, the design remaining
upon the ware.

Time will not allow us to
follow it through the drying
and slight firing required to
remove the oil, before it
reaches the "Dipping house."

Large tubs, apparently filled
with whitewash ; benches and
shelves covered with long
boards supporting rows of
cups, pots, or other articles, all
alike as two peas; "dippers"
and their assistants in long
white overalls, with respirators
over their mouths these are
the chief features that strike
us as we watch the glazing
process. There is nothing
strange or mysterious about
it. Simply the seizing of the
piece in the fingers and the
plunging of it into the tub of
creamy-looking wash, the
shaking off of the drips, the replacing of it on
the board to dry that is all ; but, like many
simple things, it is n->t an easy matter to the

Again to the drying-room, then into the
saggars once more, on the way to those ovens


which we saw on entering ; then, finally, after
firing and cooling, the ware makes its way to
the huge warehouse for sorting and cleaning.

Of the simpler and cheaper goods there
is little more to be said. Their vicissitudes
are at an end. Not so, however, with the



majority of wares. Two, three, or even four
firings, with intervening processes of embel
lishment, are needed for the most elaborate.
Coloured lithographs may be transferred on
the glaze ; edges mav be gilded ; raised fret-

<> *~ "

work may be added under the gold ; subjects
ma)- be painted by hand in enamel each
or all of these may combine to complete the
artistic effect. After the last fire, the gold
is scoured with fine sand to bring out a dull
"matt" surface, or burnished in parts with an
agate to a brightly polished texture, and
finally passed away for approval before

Such are the complex methods involved in



producing high-class pottery, and the skill
and experience involved taxes the best efforts
of thirty or more separate artisans, all of
whom must successfully co-operate to the
perfection of each individual piece. The
failure of any of these will mar, and perhaps
destroy, the work of all the rest.

Within the general and all-embracing term
" pottery " the variety of objects generally
included is infinite from the red brick
to the encaustic tile, from the garden pot to
the china cup. The factories making the
heavier and cheaper class of goods are, as a
rule, located in the district where the clay
is found. To form some conception of their
extent and character many outlying places
must be visited.

As a rule, the red bricks and roofing tiles,
as well as the garden pots and such-like, are
made from alluvial clavs. These are so

widely distributed that the industry can be
said to belong to no particular neighbourhood.
The more populous areas naturally attract
the largest enterprises, and in these the use of
machinery has superseded the primitive hand-
making. The latter, by-thc-bye, has not
changed one whit since the time of Pharaoh

Online LibraryHenry HarrisseBritain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries → online text (page 8 of 39)