of Fishing at Burton Bradstock
hard to haul the Seine net
sound clip describing fishing method by locals
In the summer of 1757, a mermaid
was cast ashore at Burton Bradstock, or so 'tis said. It was
13 feet long, its head partly human and partly that of a hog,
its extremity that of a fish and its fins resembling hands.
Strange things have been seen by Burton men in the years since,
particularly after too much cider(!), but nothing stranger
than this! No other mermaids have been reported since.
Fishing from Hive Beach, Eastwards to Chesil Beach, and Westward
to West Bay by men from Burton Bradstock was very popular, and for
over 100 years, their boats were kept on Hive Beach, probably from
15 to 20 at any one time.
Type of boat - Lerret or similar rowing boat with Seine
Stern and bow of lerrets were the same shape - this enabled them
to pay out the Seine net either side of the boat and then, when
they had the Mackerel in the net, it wasn't necessary to turn the
boat around to swing the net round the sides, and the helpers on-shore
pulled in the net from either side of the boat as it drifted in.
The Seine net is a meshed net (long bag) with narrow ends
paid out by the boatmen. The net is held by ropes either side of
the boat by those on-shore and is gradually pulled in.
Teaming - night fishing with lines for flat fish. I.e.Whiting
Feathering - using lines from a boat to catch mackerel -
by this method, the men could determine when they had caught a sufficient
quantity - mainly for their own use.
Prawning - usually at night by boat - close under the cliffs.
Herring drifting - again at night - for the crews' guidance,
one man would be on the beach with a flashing light!
Distribution of the catch - During the late 1800's to the
early 1900's, the owner of a boat would give each crewman a portion
of the catch - a certain amount for himself, the rest would be taken
by his wife and other members of the family in baskets to the villages
inland and sell the fish to the local residents. In later years
two gentlemen, one Walt Turner (nicknamed 'Cutty' - because he always
wanted to cut the price!) and a Mr. Greenslade from Poole, were
usually available to buy the fish.
1864 - The new railway system from Bridport was a boon
to local fishermen!
"The railway proved its commercial worth in June 1864 to the
seine-net fishermen of West Dorset. An estimated total of 50,000
fine mackerel were pulled ashore at Chideock and Burton Bradstock
early on a Wednesday morning. They were brought to Bridport and
sent off by train, but for once there was sufficient for a fair
quantity to be sold in the town as well, at lOd. per dozen. "
Checking the net and preparing the gear after use
Pulling the net ashore
May Williams braiding nets at her cottage.
Fishing in 1933 (Colin Sibley's pics)
1940's - Lou Brown in centre (Colin Sibley's pics)
1940's - Pulling in the net.
L to R: Bob Cammell - ? - Bertie Williams - Mary
Brown? - Lou Brown
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