The Fishing Boats and Ports of Wales: Wales a Way to Explore

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9780955402340: The Fishing Boats and Ports of Wales: Wales a Way to Explore
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Like the original Fishing boats and Ports Books (The Fishing Boats of Cornwall and the Fishing Boats of Devon) published in 2006 this book about the Commercial Fishing Industry in Wales follows the same format and is also both attractively and practically designed. The concealed spiral binding allows it to remain open at any page in rucksack or on chart table without damage, and yet have a title spine for bookshelf display. Its content is also multipurpose. It has been found useful to tourists, and holiday makers, as well as those with a professional interest. As an illustrated guide to coastal places in Wales associated with fishing past and present, it suggests a purposeful way to explore and learn about the Welsh coastline; but because it contains a photographic and listed record of the contemporary registered fishing boats to be found in these places it also has a wider usefulness. This ranges on the one hand from a family 'I spy' potential, to a unique photographic record for the historian and a companion for fishing industry support services or an aide for safety/emergency crews on the other. Stewart Lenton came to write these 'Fishing boats & ports' books because as a volunteer watch keeper at the National Coast Watch Institution he identified a need for a photographic record of fishing boats as recognition aid at their lookouts where there is a requirement to log all passing vessels. It was often difficult to identify specific fishing boats because fishing gear would frequently obscure the names and registration numbers of these working boats. As a keen and competent photographer himself, Lenton therefore set about fulfilling this need. This meant travelling to and seeking out any places where fishing boats might be found. His wife Liz frequently accompanied him on these trips round Devon & Cornwall when they had only recently moved to the area and they found it an excellent way to get to know it. Repeated visits were necessary to capture all the boats which by definition would often be out fishing, and Liz took the opportunity to familiarise herself with local attractions, history and traditions. When they found themselves frequently visiting Wales to trace Liz' ancestry and meet present day members of her family still in Wales they put the same technique into practice and started systematically exploring the coast in this way and discovering more about Wales as a result, than Liz had learnt from her Welsh family contacts and years at school in Dolgelley. She therefore wrote a longer introduction to the Welsh book than she had done for the previous books in an attempt to convey her own excitement in her discoveries hoping to inspire others to do the same. Stewart continued to search out and photograph the registered fishing vessels of all kinds and sizes, and also take photographs of the ports and places where the fishing boats are kept. Finding all the fishing vessels was not an easy task because in Wales a considerable proportion of small fishing vessels are kept in their owners homes or lockups and only trailed down to the coast and launched as required for fishing. Stewart also collected the information necessary to write the short synopsis of background information on each of the places. There is an Introductory section before the individual 'ports' are considered in turn clockwise round the coast from Newport in the South to Connah's Quay in the North taking in the island of Anglesey on the way. In the Introduction there is also a section on the administration and registration of commercial fishing boats and the meaning of the letters and numbers they display and the registration ports in Wales. Boats change the port in which they are based from time to time as well as their physical appearance providing an additional challenge to their identification. Several photographs of the same boat with very different appearances taken at different times are included to illustrate such changes. The book concludes with and an alphanumerical and also an alphabetical index allowing a boat to be found by both its name and number. The type of boat, brief details of it and where she is kept makes it possible to look for her in the appropriate ports pages.

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About the Author:

Stewart Lenton graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Bristol University. Having developed a passion for flying in the University Air Squadron, he joined the RAF in which he spent 17 years and became a qualified flying instructor on both the Jet Provost and the Canberra aircraft. Photographic Reconnaissance was his main role during his RAF service. On leaving the RAF he became an Airline pilot for 23 years, working for a series of major airlines before retiring in 2001. Stewart enjoys an active life; he plays golf, is a member of the Plymouth Minster choir and the prestigious West Devon Chorale. He gives talks to local groups on a variety of subjects and along with his wife he was a founding trustee of the Plymouth Community Family Trust for which they held relationship education courses for couples in their home. He is also a qualified RYA Offshore Skipper. Stewart Lenton lives in Plymouth with his wife, Liz, who was an RAF doctor in Malta when they met. Liz Lenton designs the covers for her husband's books, as well as acting as a major contributor. After becoming the RAF's first female medical cadet in 1962, she graduated from St Andrews University as a doctor in 1965. After eight years in the RAF, she became a General Practitioner based near Gatwick Airport, West Sussex and at the same time was sessionally employed in various specialties at local hospitals. She is a qualified Christian counsellor and with her husband has been involved in delivering relationship education for couples pre and post marriage. Like her husband Liz is also a member of the Plymouth Minster Choir. In addition to sharing her husband's love of exploring the coast, Liz loves cats and at one time bred pedigree colourpoint Persians. Combining these two passions, Liz has written a book about fishing communities as seen through the eyes of some time travelling cats.

Review:

By ROB DAVIES Daily Post 9 May 2011 COASTAL HERITAGE OF the 441 fishing boats registered at Welsh ports, around a third are trailer-launched craft used for either bass angling or potting. Around 300 are kept afloat - of which half are primarily for potting, a quarter for fishing with nets, about 10 % for trawling and scalloping,10 % for shellfish dredging, whelking or shrimping, a few for bass angling, fishing charters or long lining. Many boats are under 10 metres (33 feet) and with good reason - above this length they become subject to strict quota restrictions and safety requirements. There are relatively few Welsh fishing boats and part of the reason for this is that many of the ports now used by fishing vessels were originally developed for the export of slate, stone and coal. Historically, fishing has been used along Wales's 750 miles of coastline as an additional local source of food. The Industrial Revolution was partly responsible for this - more money could be made using the ports for shipping minerals and other raw materials. Resulting pollution also had an adverse effect. Farming was the chief source of income and while catching herring was important, this declined dramatically after the1930s. Since the end of the Second World War, the industrial demise of Welsh ports has meant that fishermen have been able to take advantage and move in. Fortunes and fashions change, and sometimes where one door closes another will open. Take whelks, for instance, few British people these days are interested in what was once a traditional seaside treat. But in recent years, an increasing number of fishermen are putting out pots to catch them for export to the Far East, where they are very popular. From the herring of Nefyn to cockling in the River Dee, Rob Davies finds out about the history of our ports PART of the charm of our coastline is the sight of the little fishing boats which bob up and down in bays, harbours and coves. Most of us are probably content to take these vessels for granted, without pausing to think what stories they could tell. But for retired airline pilot Stewart Lenton this isn't enough. He wants to know those stories, while his wife Liz, who doesn't care much for fishing boats, is intrigued by the coastline they belong to. Combine their two interests with a desire to research, write about and publish their findings, and the result is an unusual little book called: Fishing oats & Ports of Wales. It is filled with photographs taken by Stewart of the boats in question, tables of information, an "I Spy" guide to every single fishing boat and a short history of their home ports. Stewart and Liz trekked around the entire Welsh coast recording this information. On one level, it has an undoubted appeal to the maritime equivalent of train spotters, while people in the fishing industry will enjoy it and be intrigued to find that their little boat has been chronicled and photographed for posterity. For the rest of us there is the fun of taking a tour of our beautiful coastline and seeing if we can recognise any of those trawlers, potters, shrimpers, dredgers and whelkers - and finding out a bit more about our fishing heritage. Before the tour begins, Liz provides an introduction to the Welsh fishing industry and its history. She points out how places like Nefyn thrived on catches of herring in the 19th century, enjoying worldwide fame for both the quantity and quality netted. It was only a handful of places, like Nefyn, which took full commercial advantage of the abundance of the herring that travelled down the Welsh coast during the late summer and autumn months until the shoals stopped coming in the 1930s. Nefyn had a reputation as the "herring capital" with large, tasty fish, although in South Wales at any rate, many people preferred the flavour of the smaller Aberporth variety known as Sgadan. These days, that industry has all but disappeared and in fact the number of boats registered with the Welsh Fisheries Office is surprisingly small at just 441, although Stewart points out that in Wales there has not been the kind of decline seen in the rest of Britain. In his book, Stewart travels clockwise round the Welsh coast from Newport in the South to the River Dee in the North, covering those ports which still have fishing activity taking place. Stewart, who is from Plymouth, but has family links to Deganwy in Conwy, had already produced a similar book chronicling the fishing boats along the Devon and Cornwall coast. The retired airline pilot spent 17 years in the RAF mainly doing photographic reconnaissance, before flying charter flights out of Gatwick for 22 years. He is not a fisherman himself but is an accomplished sailor and qualified yachtmaster. "The National Maritime Museum heard of my book (on Devon and Cornwall) and said I had got a unique record of the fishing heritage in the two counties, you have got to publish it. I couldn't find a publisher to do it because it was an unknown," says Stewart. "My wife and I formed a publishing company and got the book published ourselves, they were very successful and we have sold nearly all the books we have produced." As the couple had family links to Wales, the next logical step was to begin to research the Welsh coast. "We thought let's do Wales and make it interesting for tourists in Wales. "The fishing communities will obviously find it interesting, but we think it will appeal to anybody and everybody, our first orders for the Welsh fishing book came from Shetland and the second came from Ireland! "It certainly taps into people's enjoyment of seeing the boats moored in the harbour and people are always fascinated by what the letters mean as well - there are six registration ports for boats in Wales, including Beaumaris and Caernarfon."They were the ports which were historically important for fishing and the system hasn't changed for 100 years. "It has been great fun going round and we hope that people will have the same fun going round exploring the places we did." Does Stewart believe that there always be fishing boats bobbing about in Welsh harbours? "Yes I do. The fishing is mainly for local consumption and that need will always be there. "And you have some of the best sources for crab and lobster off the Llyn peninsula and Anglesey." The use of small fishing boats is, he points out, a form of sustainable fishing in harmony with the environment. Also boats under 10 metres are subject to less red tape, although this is increasing. Sea fishing is mainly a part-time income to supplement farming, says Stewart Lenton. "Fishermen are always complaining but they are always buying new boats, money must be coming from somewhere, I don't think there are many poor fishermen but there are some. "They are a fantastic crowd, they go out in all sorts of weathers and face health and safety issues unlike anywhere else. "Generally they are a happy lot, they love what they are doing but they get very frustrated by the increasing bureaucracy which is causing some fishermen to leave the industry."

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