The Emsworth Oyster Fishery
probably been fished in Emsworth and Warblington for many
centuries, before The Emsworth Oyster Dredgers Co-operative was
established in the 1870s to improve and protect the industry. In
1788. it is recorded that over 7,000 bushels of native Emsworth
oysters, with a value of £1,500, were raked and dredged by a
dozen master fishermen. The oyster industry flourished and the
fishery was at its height during the last decade of the 19th
century. In 1901 between 300 and 400 people, out of a population
of some 3,000, were working in the Emsworth oyster trade, either
for Foster or the other fishing masters, or engaged in the sale
of oysters. Emsworth's important oyster industry on which so
many relied for their living was devastated by the great
oyster scare of 1902, when guests at a Winchester banquet became
ill and the Dean of Winchester died from typhoid attributed to
eating Emsworth oysters at that event. Following inspection of
the oyster beds gross sewage contamination was identified and
the sale of Emsworth oysters immediately slumped .
By By 1878 approximately 50 vessels belonged to Emsworth - rowing boats for fishing within the harbour, and smacks of up to 30 tons and 50 feet in length capable of fishing in more distant waters. A small number of boats were involved in coastal trade with commodities including coal, corn and timber. For its size, Emsworth had a significant shipbuilding industry and the supported manufacturing of sailcloth, fishing nets and rope. Perhaps the most famous Emsworth shipbuilder was J.D. Foster who built cutters and fast deep-water ketches from 1880 onwards. Today, a century later, it is the 'Echo', Foster's fastest and largest cutter with an overall length of 112 feet, for which it is most renowned. It is reputed to have been the largest fishing vessel to have sailed out of an English port.
Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Directed by Daniel Musty
Cinematography by Ben Cloud
Additional Camera by Rebecca Curd
Produced by Millstream Productions