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Crab fishing and withy gardens

Janet Chadband and Dennis Knight, 2013

Interviewer – Barbara: So a lot of people then lost their income from the herring fishing and the yachting as well.

Dennis: Ya then they started to turn over to catching crabs, because before that a lobster pot was wicker and only lasted one year unless you were really lucky and put it out later in the year like in June month and they would go over The Mill, you talk about money Miss Waite and Mrs Abbott, they had a withey garden and then right next to it Huert Worden had a withey garden and each fisherman would have that withey garden, There was withey gardens out Port Gaverne. They also would go and get Tamarisk, you know which was like a thing for making the bottoms of ‘um you know, a bit more like a fern, a bit brittle but it was alright for the bottoms more durable than the withey. You would see Raymond Provis and they coming back with a great bundle of witheys, had been all the way to Port Isaac Road Station on their bike, you try and carry a bundle of witheys on a bike all you could do was hop on the opposite side to keep the balance and they would go over there and Harold Brown always had Worden’s withey garden and they would keep it all trimmed and make sure it was all alright and Sammy Dyer had Mrs Abbott’s and Miss Waite’s and see the withey would come up and you got to keep cutting it ‘cos it would grow three or four foot in a year. We used to cut ’em always at an angle, never straight across always at an angle. Then they would select all these different witheys bring ’em home in a big bundle and select them all, so many for the ribs and so many for the small stuff like binding around and some for the bottom. Where John Brown got his Aquarium now, that used to be that deep in bits of wood, all the off cuts from the witheys, They’d go in there and they’d make pots for a couple of months. Up the Valley bring it down in a bundle, Nibbs always did the bottom, Tom Brown did the rounding, Harold did the bringing over ‘cos he was taller. They would make probably 200, 220 pots every year out of these witheys and anybody else, John Mills wherever they go there was 2 or 3 withey gardens out Port Gaverne. You imagine climbing up over Port Gaverne hill with a huge bundle.

Interviewer – Barbara: I didn’t realise the pots only lasted a season though.

Dennis: You might get a season and a bit ‘cos they were willow and the centre of the withey the pith in it you know which is hollow and the salt water would get in there and sometimes yes they would let them go for a second year.


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