This study compiles 100 years of North Sea demersal landings, focusing on the UK, and relating them to historical events and political, technological and economical drivers that influenced demersal fisheries. In the early twentieth century, aided by technological advances, the UK, and in particular England, had unchallenged dominance in North Sea demersal fisheries. Since then, the two World Wars and other political developments have had a great impact on British fisheries. Between the 1920s and 1960s, English ports shifted their interests away from the North Sea towards highly profitable distant waters, whereas the Scottish fleet relied less on these fishing grounds. Meanwhile, especially in the 1960s, other European countries expanded their fisheries, undermining Britain's lead. In the 1970s and 1980s, Scotland benefitted from mainly fishing in the North Sea. Firstly, the assertion of 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zones made the distant waters inaccessible to English fleets at a time when England's fisheries were highly dependent on them. Secondly, the relatively minor activity in the North Sea by the English compared to the Scottish fleets coincided with the establishment of the Common Fisheries Policy. This had implications when total allowable catches were first implemented because quota allocations to countries were based on their recent catches from the North Sea. Thus, after the loss of fishing opportunities in distant waters, the North Sea once more became an important fishing ground for Britain, just as in the early twentieth century, however, the emphasis of fisheries had shifted from England to Scotland.