Discover the story of the fisherman’s sweater

Two September exhibitions explore the evocative history of British gansey sweaters.


You wait ages for an exhibition about the textile heritage of Britain’s fishing industry and then two come along at once!


Gansey sweaters were worn almost religiously by British fishermen from early 19th to the mid 20th century.

These textured navy sweaters were designed to last a lifetime and their influence can still be seen on fashion and workwear today – many lifeboat stations have their own gansey patterns.

You can find out more about their fascinating history and legacy at exhibitions in Robin Hood’s Bay and Sheringham this month.

Fishermen would typically have two ganseys – one for work, and one more intricately patterned for Sunday best, like those in this group portrait. Image: Sheringham museum

The Mo’ Museum in Sheringham is hosting an exhibition of 60 Dutch ganseys until the end of September, complemented by a haul of Norfolk ganseys gleaned from local collectors and fishing families.

Entry to the exhibition is included in the museum’s normal entry fee.

At the end of the month, from Friday September 29 until Sunday October 1 there will be a gansey symposium, with talks and events revolving around the tradition of gansey making (and wearing) in fishing communities, spanning from the Moray Firth to the Netherlands.

Further north, Robin Hood’s Bay is holding its annual Propagansey exhibition, which is celebrating its 10th year.

The exhibition is at Fylingthorpe Methodist chapel, from 10am to 4pm, running from 9-17 September.

There will be ganseys from the UK and Holland on display, along with two gansey stitch sampler blankets of patterns – one from Orkney and one from Holland.

Find out more about the exhibition and read more about the fascinating history of ganseys at the Propagansey website.


Main image: Sheringham Museum