Bridlington – Lobsters and Ganseys

I have been to Bridlington several times now.  The very first time that I visited in 2015 I didn’t care for the place at all so I didn’t really give it a fair chance, didn’t stay very long and left swiftly.  I wrote a critical post about it which I have subsequently apologised for. So I have grown to rather like the town and the harbour and it has some interesting stories to tell.

If Bridlington was in Cornwall then celebrity chef Rick Stein would have an expensive seafood restaurant on the quay, every TV presenter and his dog ever would do a series about it, Doc Martin would be filmed there and people would flock there in their thousands.

Actually, thank goodness that they don’t.

Here is an interesting fact…

The north-east coast through Yorkshire and County Durham has the largest fishing industry in England in terms of employment and quantity of sea food caught, landed and processed.  At thirty-seven million tonnes in 2021 it just edged out Brixham in Devon and left Newlyn in Cornwall way behind.  The coast has four major fishing ports, Grimsby, Hull, Hartlepool and Bridlington.

Now, this might come as a surprise bit of information but Bridlington is the lobster capital of Europe, landing over three hundred  tonnes of the North Sea crustacean every year.  According to the Government’s Marine Management Organisation, lobster fetches the highest average price of all species landed by the UK fleet at over £10  per kilogram, they account for only two per cent of the weight of shellfish landings, but twelve per cent of the value. Which is why Bridlington, which lands almost no actual fish, is Yorkshire’s most lucrative fishing port.

The shellfish it lands is worth £7.2m  more than all the fish and shellfish landed at Grimsby and Whitby combined, £4m of which is accounted for by lobster.


In the UK we don’t eat a lot of lobster except in high end restaurants and exclusive London clubs and most of it is exported to Europe.

People in Portugal eat more fish than any other in mainland Europe, fifty-seven  kilograms per head per year which is like eating your way through an average sized cod or tuna,  Norway is second, Spain third and then France and Finland.

In the UK we like to think of ourselves as fish eaters and we voted to leave Europe on the basis of getting our fishing fleets back but we only eat cod or haddock or anything else from the same genus ( hake, colin, pollack etc.)  and on average we eat a miserly fifteen kilograms per person per year.

In mainland Europe, those who eat least fish are Albanians at only five kilograms followed by people from Serbia and North Macedonia and what is surprising is that none of these are really that far from the sea.

 The most popular fish in the UK is cod and in the USA it is prawns (shrimp), Canada and in Australia it is salmon; in France it is sea bass and in Spain hake.  The most popular Christmas Day meal in Australia is prawns (shrimp).

Throw another prawn on the Barbie there Bruce.

All of these obscure facts are worth jotting down and remembering if you are in a pub quiz team.

I will be going back to Bridlington again next month and I fully intend to find a restaurant selling Bridlington Bay Lobster.  Apparently it is important to be careful if you want the real thing because as we export almost all of our lobster to Europe then the UK market depends on imports from Canada.  What a crazy world we live in.

Today was rather windy, well, very windy actually so there weren’t many boats leaving the safety of the harbour and the boats were all safely moored up.  A walk along the harbour wall brought us to a statue of a young woman, a Gansey girl.

A Gansey is a distinctive woollen sweater, originally designed to provide protection for fishermen from wind and water.  They were traditionally made by fishermen’s wives using five ply wool (Kim tells me that is rather thick) and five needles (Kim tells me that is rather hard work).  It was (is) a tight knit made in one piece with no seams so as to keep the weather out.  

Each Gansey pattern was unique to the town or harbour where the men sailed from and in this way if there was an accident at sea and men were lost overboard then they could be identified by their Gansey.  The patterns on the garment all relate to the sea, boats, nets, pots and fish and the tradition continues today.

Next time in Bridlington I will tell you about some famous people associated with the town.


31 responses to “Bridlington – Lobsters and Ganseys

  1. I used to have an audit client in Bridlington where one year, I got snowed in.


  2. A very informative post, thank you. Years ago there used to be a small passenger ship that would take tourists a couple of miles out onto the North Sea, out of sight of land. Do you know if they still have that? It was really good fun.


  3. We eat a lot of mussels and oysters in my Brittany…..A bit of blue lobster will do too.


  4. Fascinating facts, but I’ll never remember them


  5. Filled with fish facts, Andrew, which, I confess, I knew none of. I won’t remember most of them, but I probably will the fact that the English eat mainly cod. I was going to say only cod until I learned that they are willing to eat lobster from Canada. BTW, the best lobster roll I ever ate was on Prince Edward Island. Yummy. I’ll also remember the story on Gansey sweaters and the fact that the pattern from each town is unique, which can come in handy if you are dead. –Curt


  6. Brid was where my family went to on holiday when I was a baby, but the only memory I have off it is a day trip with my own children in the 1990s. Nice beach and we had a boat trip around to see Flamborough Head.


  7. Not sure I’ve ever been to Bridlington. My parents’ choice was always Scarborough.


  8. I’m associated with the town… well, I do visit a lot! 😂
    My parents never called it anything else but Brid!

    I learnt a lot from you today, thank you, Andrew.


  9. Will you be posting a picture of yourself modelling a Grimsby bansey?


  10. The Spain thing is surprising simply because cod is the fish which you are guaranteed to see on every single menu everywhere, both full meal and tapas. Baccalao . I’ve been to virtually all towns in England through work, football and leisure yet have never been to either Bridlington or Scarborough. I must out that right some time.


  11. Well, bless your heart, Andrew Petcher! Your adventures in Bridlington sure put a smile on my face. Now, I must say, I find it quite fascinating how this charming little harbor town has been overlooked by the masses. With its status as the lobster capital of Europe, one would think it’d be swarming with folks wanting a taste of that delectable crustacean.

    It’s interesting how we tend to have preferences in our seafood consumption, with the UK leaning towards cod and haddock, while our friends across the pond in the US fancy their shrimp. And don’t even get me started on the lobster import-export situation—truly a peculiar state of affairs!

    Now, that Gansey girl statue sure does tell a heartwarming tale of tradition and love for one’s own. The unique patterns on those cozy Gansey sweaters, crafted by the fishermen’s wives, are a testament to the rich history woven (quite literally) into the fabric of Bridlington’s community.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about the famous folks connected to this delightful town. In the meantime, may your next visit be filled with scrumptious Bridlington Bay Lobster and a healthy dose of cherished memories.


  12. Pingback: Bridlington – Lobsters and Ganseys – Maersk Logistics Comoany

  13. never been come to Bridlington. but great to know about this place. I love lobster very much. but in my home the price is very expensive. i don’t why its cost too high. thank for sharing. i love read your post


  14. Pingback: East Yorkshire and the Thirty-Seven Mile Holderness Coast | Have Bag, Will Travel

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