Kipperland is the all-encompassing exhibition concerning our commercial fisheries. Whilst that might sound a little grand, it is true to say that Kipperland is concerned about the state of our fisheries.
Kipperman started out in 1996 with a one-show ‘Herring Exhibition’ which portrayed various aspects of the herring fishery. The intention then was to show to the world (that little bit that was interested anyway) just how great the herring fishery had been (see).
The exhibition consisted of various mobile structures with photographs, information boards and boat models to tell the story. Outside he built a small mobile smokehouse to create a little bit of aroma around the site, not realising that visitors to the exhibition might actually want to purchase examples of smoked herring.
Before long other festivals organisers were approaching Kipperman to encourage him to travel with his exhibition and so began the pilgrimage to various locations around Britain, with occasional forays into mainland Europe.
But it was also the nutritional value of herring that interested Kipperman and the exhibition allowed him to demonstrate at various food festivals by way of cooking with herring and other oily fish. The benefits of eating oily fish, and thus good quality Omega-3 oils, cannot be underestimated, given the good effects on brain, eyes and heart, as well as preventing depression and aggressive behaviour.
‘The Herring Exhibition’, after several years of travelling up and down Britain, became ‘Kipperland’ in about 2004 to try and bring the good kipper back into the British diet. The smokehouse, now called the Amazing Travelling Kipperhouse, was as busy in 2014 as it had been ten years before, and, with a fantastic build-up of black resin on its inside, it emanates a most desirous aroma once lit. In fact many a person has sought out the Kipperhouse by following their sense of smell across a festival sight, simply from this wafting smoke. It has been known for people to drive many miles to come and see this amazing smokehouse and taste its wonderful kippers. Sometimes bloaters (whole herrings smoked) are produced and many a person has said that they hadn’t seen bloaters in many a year. They have a slightly stronger, almost gamey, taste to kippers.
As mentioned, Kipperman was given the BBC Radio 4 Food Campaigner/Educator Award at the annual Food and Farming Awards in November 2004 by Rick Stein and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. At the Organic Food Festival in Bristol in September 2005, Hugh came along to Kipperland to spend some time gutting herring, and Kipperman has appeared on Hugh’s food show once or twice. He’s also made many others appearances on various television programmes, and well as featuring in magazine articles and on radio programmes. Many other of the so-called celebrity chefs have visited Kipperland over the years and have enjoyed a taste of good kipper. However, thousands of normal folk like you and me have also been there, extolling to virtues of herring and buying these tasty fish.
Today Kipperland is as busy as it ever was, almost 20 years after first setting out. It remains unique, the only travelling Kipperhouse in the world, the only mobile fishing museum in Britain and the only place where commercial fishing meets people from inland. That shows that its popularity is as great as its message, its kippers as good as any out on the market. Long may it continue to amaze, amuse and amplify.