It’s been fascinating listening to the memories and experiences of shellfishermen from the coastal communities of South Devon and Dorset as part of the ‘Guardians of the Reef’ project. Working alongside the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association we have now recorded hours and hours of audio and collected thousands of amazing archive photographs. This in itself has huge value, documenting some of the phenomenal changes this industry has undergone within living memory.
Although all of this will be archived, it’s really important to us to bring people together to celebrate and share some of these stories, so we have transformed some of the material collected into a series of digital stories and displays that provide a fascinating glimpse into life in coastal communities and the ever evolving industry of shellfishing.
A selection of digital stories will be screened at The Cricket Inn in Beesands on the evening of the 16th May 2018 (limited places so booking required. They will also be played on a loop from the 18th – 20th May 11am-3pm in Hope Cove at the Reading Room and Chapel where people can drop in anytime. All of these events are free with thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of local communities and refreshments will be available.
A further collection of stories gathered throughout the project is currently on display at Salcombe Maritime Museum (read more here), which runs until the 31st October 2018 and is open every day between 10.30am-12.30pm and 2.30-4.30pm. The exhibition combines archive photographs, with text and artworks to illustrate snippets of the stories collected during the project in a colourful interactive display that hangs from the ceiling.
Fishermen would often transport their crabs in wooden tea chests, giving the project inspiration for another display consisting of a series of old tea chests covered in photographs, text and artworks that share some of the stories collected. These will be on display at the screening events and will also tour Crabfest in Salcombe and Paignton Harbour Fest in the Spring and Summer of 2018.
These events are a fitting celebration for the Shellfishermen’s association, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Beshlie Pool, SD&CS Executive Officer said, “the Stories are a fascinating trip through time, teaching us how fishing has changed within living memory from individual families catching crab for the table to the vibrant global shellfishing business that exists today. The innovation and perseverance of the fishermen and their families who have shared their stories with us is really something we are proud of and want to share.”
The oral history interviews conducted as part of the project will later be archived in their entirety at the Devon County Archives, Devon Rural Archives, Salcombe Museum and the Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum providing a valuable record of the industry for generations to come.
If you want to find out more about the project or get involved then please contact Storylines on firstname.lastname@example.org.