28th February 1660. Try a Bloater.

Fish swim in schools: herring (Clupea Harengus) in shoals.

jar 1920s

Embossed Shippam’s  jar. 1920.s


There were other competitors in the field.









Today a Tuesday in 1660 Diarist, Samuel Pepys recorded: ‘Up in the morning, and had some red herrings to our breakfast, while my boot-heel was a-mending’.(1)

Red herring was the predecessor of the cured Bloater, the un-gutted, cold smoked, salted   herring, for which Great Yarmouth was once famous.

It was by salting, drying and smoking and the Phenols that retarded the growth of bacteria.(2)

One company known for its Bloater and other pastes was Shippam’s of Chichester who heated the product before sealing in jars, thus ensuring its longevity.


Entrance to the old Headquarters in Chichester, originally founded in the 18thc by Shipston Shippam an ex-sergeant in the 72nd Foot. They moved in 2002.


1930.s Advert for chicken.









It was in 1892 when Shippam’s expanded its butchery business, well known for its sausages  into a factory adjacent, to produce fish and meat pastes.(3)


animated 1950s

Animated TV series of 1950s


Sign at Shippam’s original premises.

Shippam’s thus in its new method of preservation by converting fish products into a paste and sealing in jars, managed to overcome the problem associated with fish: it soon goes off.

They could now take advantage of improved transportation and sell to the world.

However times were changing and the old consumers of bloater paste were miffed as noted on 25th August 2010 in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, when B.J. Simmons of Birchington, Kent was bemoaning that: ‘I have learned this week of the sad demise of bloater paste. The last supplier, Shippam’s now owned by Princes, has informed me that its product has been discontinued’.




Favoured by Grandads and children.






Fish and meat spreads in the old days became a standby for many children, including the Author, at tea time on bread and muffins. Now  for many it is pure nostalgia.

(1a) ‘It was as bad when boots had finished with it’, according to Pepys.

A recipe for red herring was outlined in Kenelm Digby’s 1669 Closet, or excellent directions for cooking. ‘My Lord d’Aubigny eats Read-herring thus broiled. After they are opened and prepared for the Gridiron, Soak them (both sides) in Oyl and Vinegar beaten together in pretty quantity in a little Dish……lay them upon your sallet, and you may also put upon it, the Oyl and Vinegar…’(sic).

(1b) Kippers are whole herring, but gutted and split with the backbone still intact, were being brined and cold-smoked at Seahouses, Northumberland in 1846 when John Woodger shipped his Newcastle Kippers to London before setting up in Great Yarmouth, the centre for herring since medieval times.

(2) Phenol the simplest of the Phenols is also known as Carbolic Acid has antibacterial qualities.

Ref: carolineld.blogspot/Pic of clock.

Ref: telegraph.co.uk. Boat comes in for last of bloater paste.

Ref: pinterest/Pic of modern jar.

Ref: islandhistoryfiles.wordpress.com/pic of old Bloater Jar.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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