Tine seems to have passed slowly in Blakeney. The scene pictured in the previous post must have looked much the same a century ago. To the left of the harbour photo two ‘crabbers’ are enjoying dangling their lines. At the opposite end of the quay there is a stall selling cockles, mussels, crab and similar delicacies fresh from the sea.
But my attention was drawn particularly to the bicycle pictured above, resting against the railings skirting the quay. Within living memory only the currency has changed!
Wells-next-the-Sea was once a busy port, especially in the nineteenth century. It boasted a fishing fleet that fished off Iceland, imported coal for the industrial area of the north east and was a major supplier of malt to Dutch and London breweries. A reminder of the past is still evident in the granary, pictured in the first photograph. The granary ceased production in 1990 and has since been converted into luxury flats. Wells is now primarily known as a seaside resort, but it still has a small fishing industry specialising in whelks, crab and lobster.
A commercial fishing fleet is now a thing of the past at Aldeburgh. Skipper Dean Fryer explains why: ‘Bureaucracy, paperwork, over-the-top EU quotas and the rising costs of simply fuelling and maintaining a boat has driven most fishermen out of business.’
Nevertheless, fishing seems to be a part of the DNA for many. The high tide line along the beach is marked by a sprinkling of small boats and, behind them, a row of black fishermen’s huts. Typically a catch might include sole, skate, bass, flounder, lobster and/or crab.
The shingle beach shelves steeply and ‘vintage’ tractors are used to haul the boats to safe dry land.
For many generations fishing for crab and lobster has been the way of life for the fishermen of North Norfolk. The boats are small and – in places like Cromer, Sheringham and Cley next the Sea – are mostly moored on the beach rather than in a harbour. Often the beaches comprise extensive banks of shingle (to prevent coastal erosion). Each boat has its own tractor and, in some cases, is towed to and from the sea on a cradle.
Joby, the ancient mariner, was relaxing on the steps of his shed, taking a break from repairing his fishing nets.
Down at the reservoir, while the coots were cooting and the swans were swanning, across the causeway four anglers were ….. well, what were they doing? Two boats, each with two anglers, were nestled together, but only one angler had a fishing rod and, even more strangely, he had two rods in one hand!! It was all very odd and I’ve no idea what was going on!