“Girls Skaning Mussels”
The natural grace of these hard-working people is subtly portrayed in this beautifully arranged group taken in the 1890's by Frank Sutcliffe. Located at Tate Hill, an area on the East Side of Whitby, where many of Sutcliffe's genre groups of fisherfolk were photographed.
The two girls sat opening the mussels are Amelia Peart and Lizzie Alice Hawksfield. Mussels were used as bait for the long-lines and it was the job of the women to collect, open and extract (skane) the mussels.
They also had to bait the lines in readiness for the fishermen going out to sea. The baited lines would only keep for a few days so if the weather turned for the worse and the fishermen could not get out, the rotting mussels would have to been cleaned and the lines re-baited !