Tales and memories will form the basis of a touring play

Alex O'Toole and Sarah Stone

Alex O'Toole and Sarah Stone

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Members of some of Lytham’s best known shrimping families shared their memories of living and working in the industry at a “story sharing” session.

The event was held arts organisation, Fable Arts.

Alex O'Toole and Sarah Stone interviewing ex-shrimping industry workers for their new play.  They are pictured with Frances Topping and Mick Parkinson.

Alex O'Toole and Sarah Stone interviewing ex-shrimping industry workers for their new play. They are pictured with Frances Topping and Mick Parkinson.

Director Alex O’Toole, said: “The response to our call out to the shrimping community has been fantastic.

“Though most of the respondents to date still live in the Lytham and St Annes area, one gentleman has contacted us from as far afield as Somerset, where he has swapped shrimping for farming.

“From listening to their stories, we know that life was clearly very hard for Lytham shrimpers and their families, particularly during the fifties and sixties and earlier .

“The shrimpers, tied to the tides, out in almost all weathers, reliant on their wits and their hard-won knowledge of the river, coming back with hands so cold they cried when they began to thaw out; and the shillers, tethered to their kitchens by the size of the shrimper’s catch, their fingers eternally soft and shrivelled, often working till the early hours.

“Yet their sense of fun and community was what kept them going and still does.”

There is now only one full-time shrimper working in Lytham and a handful of part-timers.

With the loss of the ports at Preston and at Lytham, the river no longer needed dredging.

As a result, much of the estuary is now silted up so that the core shrimping areas enjoyed by Lytham’s shrimper’s in the fifties and sixties are no longer accessible.

Alex said: “We should make the most of our treasured Lytham shrimps while we can and support our local fishermen.

“They really are the last of their kind in Fylde. When they stop working, a key part of heritage will go with them.

“It has been a real privilege to be able to capture these important memories of our social and industrial history directly from the men and women who have lived and worked in the shrimping industry all of their lives. We hope that in doing so, we can shed a light on the importance of the industry, and these incredibly hard working men and women, to the development of Lytham.”

The sessions will form the basis of a play.

Entitled Shiller, it is set amid the rise of Lytham’s shrimping industry and Lytham-based Fable Arts plan to take to tour it around venues across Lancashire.

Further sessions have been organised with other members of the Lytham and St Annes shrimping communities over the coming weeks. If you would like to share your story of living or working in Lytham or St. Anne’s shrimping industry, please get in touch with Alex O’Toole by calling 07854 951266 or emailing alex@fablearts.org.uk