The rise and fall of a once-proud industry

Two oystermen aboard  their boats at Emsworth.
Two oystermen aboard their boats at Emsworth.

THIS WEEK IN 1976: Big crowds for the big band sound

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A new 78-page, A5 book has been re-issued by Emsworth Museum and anyone interested in oyster fishing and Emsworth in general will need a copy.

Uncovering The Past... Emsworth, Oysters and Men was written by Linda Newell, who died last year. This second issue gave Margaret Rogers, the vice-chairman of Emsworth Maritime and Historical Trust, the opportunity to say how much she appreciated the work she did as a local historian of Emsworth.

Aerial view of Fosters empire of oyster boats at the end of King Street, Emsworth.

Aerial view of Fosters empire of oyster boats at the end of King Street, Emsworth.

The book is full of anecdotes about oysters, the men who fished for them, the oyster beds and the vessels used during the period when the oyster trade was at its height.

The oyster fleet comprised mainly smacks and they would go to sea for three days. On an average good trip they might catch 100 bags of oysters and, on a really good one, 130 bags. Depending on size, a bag could contain between 400 and 900 oysters.

Oyster fishing came to an abrupt end when two men died from typhus believed to have come from infected oysters they had eaten at a formal dinner. It was found that raw sewage was let into the sea and contaminated the oysters. Oyster fishing around Emsworth was stopped.

The full story, plus dozens of photographs, can be found in this interesting book. It costs £8 from Emsworth Museum, from dorothybone@btinternet.com or emsworthmuseum@gmail.com. Or call 01243 378091.