Rigby’s Encyclopaedia of the Herring

aka The Herripedia


Picking up on the song and fisherwomen’s marketing of their wares, a film deploying documentary to encourage herring consumption


Alan Harper, 1947, 18 mins

Drawing for its title on the song, Caller Herrin’ (fresh herring) the film was funded by the Central Office of Information (COI) for the Scottish Home Department.

Many of the steam drifters and their crews had been been drawn into military service during the war and the film is a balance between the highlighting of modernisation – diesel drifters, science, freezer plants, mechanisation, canning – and the celebration of traditional values in food production.

As with John Grierson’s Drifters (1929), of which it’s an updated version, at the heart of its documentary purpose is the encouragement of the home market for herring.