Owner 'delighted' as Craster kipper smokehouse given Grade II listed status

22.11.23 Craster Kippers smokehouse Credit: Historic England Archive
The smokehouse in Craster, which produces kippers, has been given Grade II listed status. Credit: Historic England Archive

A smokehouse used for producing world famous kippers has been given Grade II listed status.

For over a century, Craster smokehouse in Northumberland has been owned by the Robson family - the sole producers of Craster kippers.

James Robson set up the business and in 1906 he bought the smokehouse, which is now the only remaining one in the North East.

L Robson and Sons is now run by James' great-grandson Neil, who is delighted the smokehouse has been granted listed status.

Neil Robson is the fourth-generation custodian of the business and is delighted the smokehouse has been granted listed status. Credit: Historic England Archive

He said: "This historic building enables us to continue to produce Craster kippers in the same way as my great-grandfather and subsequent generations, guaranteeing their quality for many years to come.”

Staff hang herring on tenter hooks and the oily fish are smoked for 16 hours by fires fuelled by whitewood shavings and oak sawdust.

People working at Crasters kippers factory L.Robson and Sons Ltd in Northumberland. Credit: Historic England Archive

From the mid 19th to the early 20th century, most coastal towns and villages had a smokehouse to preserve locally-caught fish for a national and international market, providing consumers with a healthy and low-cost meal.

However, the industry declined with the increasing availability of fresh fish and improved railway connections and refrigeration.

The status was awarded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

Sarah Charlesworth, listing team leader for Historic England in the North, said: “Kippers are an integral part of Craster’s cultural identity and the smokehouse is a physical embodiment of the village’s special character, as well as a living monument to the North East’s historic fishing industry.”

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