Apprentice recruited by Seahouses smokehouse to keep ancient skills alive

Apprentice recruited by Seahouses smokehouse to keep ancient skills alive  
Date Published: 07 August 2014

A smokehouse in Seahouses has successfully recruited an apprentice in the ancient process of smoking fish, with the help of Northumberland College.

In March 2014 Swallow Fish started looking for a suitable candidate to help grow the business and keep the artisan skills alive.


Glen Dawson, 16, from Beadnell near Seahouses, left school in June and started his apprenticeship with Swallow Fish on 1 July. He is following a two-year Level 2 Performing Manufacturing Operations Apprenticeship which will enable him to gain a qualification while learning the skills of this traditional trade.


Husband and wife team, Patrick and Karen Wilkin, who own and run the smokehouse chose to recruit an apprentice to help expand their business and reach new markets. Their business will provide Glen with hands-on experience of the whole production experience including skills such as unloading freshly caught fish and shellfish, splitting, lighting fires, smoking, curing and slicing, as well as the business aspects such as mail order, retail, wholesale and customer service.


Karen said: "Our apprentice will gain an abundance of experience in all aspects of the business from unloading fish, lighting fires, smoking and curing to fulfilling mail order and retail sales.


"It is a rare opportunity for someone to learn unique skills and develop a career in a niche market, whilst learning transferable skills that can be applied to other manufacturing roles."


Once Glen has completed his apprenticeship he will have all the skills needed to work with fresh fish and shellfish, and in the traditional smokehouses.


Glen said: "I'm pleased to have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience while working towards a qualification. Through my apprenticeship I'm learning lots of practical skills and helping to keep an ancient trade alive."


Northumberland College also work with other craft food production companies throughout the region including the Tyne Bank Brewery and Doddington Dairy offering Apprenticeships and bespoke training to meet their business needs.


Anyone wanting to find out more about how apprentices can benefit a business can contact Northumberland College by emailing or by calling 01670 841 268.


Northumberland College offers apprenticeships in over 40 different subjects and works with over 700 employers across the region in a wide range of industry sectors.