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.