South Gare huts on the River Tees

Alen McFadzean has written blogs in 2013 and in 2014 about the South Gare at the mouth of the River Tees and its huts. The South Gare is a little spit of land following the river out into the North Sea, with a road, sand dunes and remnants of wartime defences. The ground is artificial land built with slag from the furnaces of Middlesbrough in the nineteenth century to protect the port from storms and better channel the flow of the river. In the distance, you can still see the towers of the steel works.

Set back from the shoreline, behind the dunes, is a cluster of a hundred “South Gare Fishermen’s Association” huts in a grid that stands out in this Google aerial view. If you zoom out with the “-” icon you can see the wider context and how isolated the South Gare is.

Looking closer you can see the huts are all painted the same green, but they’re not all identical. Some are windowless sheds with double doors, but others have a single door and windows – even net curtains. A lot of them have metal chimneys and stoves. Inside they have chairs, and sometimes even sofas, beds and little kitchens. It seems as if the huts are a bit like an allotment but for part-time fishermen: somewhere for men (mostly men) to go and tend to their gear, or to head out in boats from, or just to get out of the house for a while. Some of the replies on Alen’s blogs suggest they were also a well-loved playground, where children and grandchildren first properly encountered the surrounding nature on the beaches and dunes. The last of these six photos shows some of the other huts on the shoreline in one of the sheltered habours.

All of these photos were taken by Alen, who generously offered them when he came across the Hutters.uk blog.

Ian Forsyth posted photos on a blog in 2010 with interiors of some of the huts and more about the fishermen and their stories. There are also some pictures by other people on the Geograph page for NZ5527.

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