Herring: A History of the Silver Darlings


The story of herring is entwined in the history of commercial fishing. For over two millennia, herring have been commercially caught and its importance to the coastal peoples of Britain cannot be measured. At one point tens of thousands were involved in the catching, processing and sale of herring. They followed the shoals around the coast from Stornoway to Penzance and many towns on Britain’s East Coast grew rich on the backs of the ‘silver darlings’.

Fishing historian Mike Smylie looks at the effects of herring on the people who caught them, their unique ways of life, the superstitions of the fisher folk, their boats and the communities who lived for the silver darlings.  The trouble with Herring is that it doesn’t have a good public image.   It was regarded once as food of the poor and fresh Herring is considered to be bony and unpalatable. If the British public were persuaded to eat at least two Herring a week then we would almost certainly see an improvement in the public’s health.

  • Herring: A History of the Silver DarlingsRevealing the fascinating yet little-known history of the herring.
  • Documenting its importance and versatility.
  • Illustrated with a variety of maps and photographs, both black and white and colour.
  • Mouth watering recipes including Baked Buttered Bloaters, Salmagundy and Super Sgadan.

Mike Smylie, also known as ‘Kipperman’, has been researching the history of the herring for nearly three decades. He has written extensively on fishing vessels and the fishing industry, including Fishing Around Morecambe Bay,  Fishing in Cornwall and Fishing the European Coast for The History Press. He divides his time between Bristol and Greece and can often be spotted at fishing festivals manning his herring smoker. 

Herring: A History of the Silver Darlings
Mike Smylie
Published 13th June 2011, £12.99 hardback
ISBN: 978-0-7524-5951-6

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