IT’S something you learn early on as a journalist, that good stories are best told through people.
So while North Shields fish quay may be picturesque and historic, its real vibrancy lies in the folk who work it, many of who have the place in their blood.
Men like Jackie Weatherstone, born overlooking the old Haddock Shop Dock, and whose family were the first to move into Knotts Flats in 1939.
A former seaman on merchant tramps and colliers, he bought a 42ft launch from Dowson’s shipyard which was going out of business at Tyne Dock in 1964.
Within a short time, he had three boats and was fishing for salmon.
Tony Asiamah’s father came from Ghana just after the end of the Second World War, his son starting out at 16 with one of North Shields’s fish merchant’s businesses.
Eventually he set-up himself with a pal in an old smokehouse. Today his business, Seaview Fisheries, is one of the most prominent on the quay.
Rob Dearman, formerly of HM Customs and Excise; Michael Nugent, coxswain of the Tynemouth lifeboat - they are the voices of the places, its muscle and fibre, and like all the others whose stories are told in Fish Quay Folk of North Shields, they are the human face of one of the Tyne’s most iconic localities.
Not that it is all about people. Fish themselves ‘swim’ in and out of its pages; gulls and other birds shriek; vessels like the old whale factories sail again.
This is a smashing book, which will strike a chord with anyone on this side of the river who has grown-up, like me, with the fish quay as a near-neighbour, bathed in its miasmas of smoke and fish guts; who can never step off the ferry without feeling a slight thrill that some of the best cod and chips to be had are just a step away, to be eaten looking out over a painterly vista of sky, water and ships.
The photographs alone are lovely, some of them vintage, others vivid images of modern fish quay life captured by the camera of Tynemouth-born author Daniel Turner, who brings years of affection for, and involvement in the life, of the quay, to his work.
l Fish Quay Folk of North Shields, by Daniel Turner, is published in paperback, price £12.99, by White Wings Publishing. Visit www.whitewingspublishing.co.uk
Fifty pence from the sale of each book will be donated to Tynemouth RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) station.