The company started as a hobby and soon evolved into something much bigger. There was clearly a demand for high quality produce processed in the time old, traditional methods, which was no longer easily obtained in today’s modern world. In many ways John was ahead of his time in realising that people demand good flavoursome goods and are not prepared to compromise.
The days of John using matches from his pipe to pin the herring open during the smoking process have gone, but the Company retains many of the traditional methods of preparing and curing fish, meats and cheeses of all kinds. It is our commitment to quality, the ingredients we use and the service we provide, that has won such overall acclaim for our smoked products. We have always believed that our vital ingredient is time. The shorter the time from catch to Smokehouse, the better the quality, and the more sumptuous the flavour. Combine this with the slow smoking to give the richest of flavours. With our wealth of experience, the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse has created a wide selection of traditional and specialist smoked fish meats and cheeses. Over the years we have won many awards and accolades which reinforce the high quality of our produce.
Today the business is managed by John’s wife Pat and son Michael. You can always expect a warm welcome if you visit our shop and factory at Glasson Dock which stocks many additional products to complement our core range such as sauces, pickles, chutneys and more! However, if this is too far for you to come you can always visit our stand at one of the many events we attend throughout the year or you can browse and order online.
The History of Kippers
As soon as the herring were landed at the dockside, teams of women would be ready to split, gut and sort the fish into barrels. They followed the trawlers up and down the coast working wherever they docked. They worked in teams of three with the tallest packing the barrels, separating the different sized fish, and the other two splitting and gutting them. The women were paid by the barrel so speed was of the essence. The more experienced could average 40-60 herring per minute working six days a week. Some of these women were as young as fifteen starting work as soon as they left school.
Once packed in the barrels the cooper would inspect to make sure that they were correctly packed before covering them in salt. The salt preserved the fish until they were ready to be smoked. There was no waste, with local farmers taking the guts and using them as fertiliser. The women were only paid at the end of the season which could be up to six months.
These days modern techniques and equipment are used to harvest the herring, gut and split and have them distributed in the shortest possible time. Our main supplier is Denholm based in Peterhead who have been established in one form or another since 1869. In the 1970’s they became involved in the fish-selling side of the business which has grown from strength to strength.