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so much to sea

Herring boom 1880s-1920s

Shetland was on a roll, with plenty of fish in the sea and a great demand for cured herring in Eastern Europe. Ports such as Lerwick and Baltasound rapidly expanded, fast becoming the most important herring ports in the world.

The herring fishery, and all the associated work that it brought in, was a major influence on Shetland’s economic history.

Merchant fish curers in Shetland became very powerful, displacing the landowners. Notable local business enterprises in cod and herring included Hay & Co in Lerwick, Garriocks in Scalloway, and T M Adie & Sons in Voe. 

Steamers took iced fish from Shetland to Aberdeen, where it was sent onward by rail to the major cities.

Did you know? In 1905, the population of the Unst village of Baltasound increased from 500 to an incredible 16,000!