Live AIS VesselTracker

Track the Newlyn fishing fleet at sea.

powered by vesseltracker.com

Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas present? - A tale of two pubs - and an awful lot more!


This is an up-front, in-your-face, black is black and white is white, callous-covered exposé of fishermen past and present who might occasionally be found frequenting one or both of the two most famous fishermen's pubs in Newlyn...



the Swordfish, which, in its heyday, once featured in Sky TV's Most Dangerous pubs in Britain is well worth a visit - it does great B&B and still has the best jukebox in the west of Cornwall - think Pogues to Amy Winehouse and all rocking points in between...


and the Star Inn, which has the diminutive but nonetheless, formidable Debbie at the helm and, after 24 years, there is nothing that Debs hasn't seen, heard or sorted in her time behind the heavily tarnished bar... 



fabled for the care of her regulars, she once provided the boys (and girls) with a smoker's bar outside from day one of the national smoking ban - several characters from the book can be seen here, notably Perry, in a fetching orange boiler suit and to his left, and sadly not with us any more Larry who originally hailed from Howth...




while this shot inside the Swordfish features some of the port's best known skippers in their youth, L-R Filadelfia skipper Don Liddicoat, Billy 'Saffron' Bunn, Roger Coutsubus and Devonian, Mervyn Mountjoy, now sadly in the big wheelhouse in the sky...



fishermen from ports all round the area have passed through the harbour so the book touches on the lives of many...



including fish merchant Nick Howell who created the first massive fish display that has become the hallmark of Newlyn's annual Fish Festival...


All smiles as ever, Toots and dad, sardine and shark fisherman, Mart 'Nutty Noah' Ellis

and of course the pioneering fisherman Martin Ellis from Cadgwith who with a little help from Nick re-started the Cornish sardine fishery - Martin's adventures read like a saga and chronicle the ups and downs of what fishing is like for many fishermen - pitting their wits against not only the vagaries of the natural elements of fishing and the weather but also the battle with relationships, bank managers, well-meaning but often ignorant do-gooder-environmentalists and the all-to-omni-present Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) all of which range like a big spring tide throughout the pages of the book which...

Roger Nowell mending gear on a Nowell family beam trawler with Mike, father of England rugby player Jack Nowell.

no epic poem, book or video can ever capture in an instance the lot of the fisherman - it is a way of life, something you live, breathe and feel every waking, and at sea, every sleeping moment - Roger Nowell's BBC TV series The Skipper made a good stab at the task - but the screen inevitably puts the viewer at a distance from the fisherman's heaving, entirely unpredictable world, as they strive to make sense of the weather, tides and fickle fish behaviour that confronts them before they even head out through the gaps; the sounds, the smells, the fishermen's almost coded dialogue, the intimacy and closeness of all those involved make it unique in a world dominated by those seeking to control and audit every action. As Plato said:

There are three sorts of men, 
the living, 
the dead, 
and those that go down to the sea to fish

Gavin Knight's, The Swordfish & The Star is a bucking deck of a read, every bit as colourful and raw as the contents of a freshly gutted big ling and can be bought locally in Penzance at the Edge of the World bookshop or order it online here.