Friday, 19 February 2021

You can help save, 'This Fishing Life' in Cadgwith.

The penultimate episode of BBC2's This Fishing Life episode 5 featured the fishermen and fishing community of Cadgwith, the UK's southernmost fishing village at the foot of the Lizard peninsula facing directly into the heavy Atlantic winter swells. Boats are launched and retrieved up the beach as the cove's fishermen have done, for centuries. 

Pounding seas on the shingle, Cornish gig rowing competitions, singers huddled round huge real fires in the Cadgwith Cove Inn; fishing life and the sea pervade every twist and turn of the cove's well-worn cobbles and is the very essence of what makes it such a unique place to visit. 

Home to innovative fishermen artists like Simon Bradley and Nigel Legge it's a plein air artist's dream location, Likely Lads star, Rodney Bewes made it his home for years and local characters like fisherman Martin Ellis who featured in Mark Jenkin's award winning film Bait (which the Guardian described as a, 'defining film of the decade') on the very subject of second home developmen all make this fishing community the genuine article in an age of faux aged-paint finishes and fabricated history. 

It would be no exaggeration to say that if the fishing community of Cadgwith lost all three buildings to second home developers then the very lifeblood of the village would rapidly ebb away on the next tide.

And then, there's actual fish! In 2012, Cadgwith was the subject of Monty Don's 'Fishermen's Apprentice' when the presenter made an admiral attempt to make a living as a share fisherman - this clip exemplifies the incredibly important role these small fishing communities and fishermen like Danny Phillips provide - it is simple enough, they land the very highest quality fish- much of which you can buy in the cove!

What's the big issue? There are three old buildings in Cadgwith Cove that are used by the fishermen to store their gear and process their catch. They also house a very popular art gallery and two shops selling fresh fish.

Cadgwith Cove Fishing Trust Crowdfunder

"We are the Cadgwith Cove Fishing Trust, and we are a charitable trust whose objects are the improvement maintenance and protection of the historic communal fishing facilities in Cadgwith Cove in the parish of Grade Ruan.

We aim to purchase the historic fishing buildings to protect them from development and maintain for the local fishermen in perpetuity. Once we have raised the £300,000 required to purchase the historic fishing buildings, any excess will be used to renovate and repair the buildings, provide an even better environment for the local fishermen to work in.

We would also like to provide some public access with exhibits showing the history of the buildings and the trial and tribulations of the fishermen who have worked there over many centuries, and made it the vibrant community we enjoy today.

We are trying to put together the funding to buy all three buildings to keep them safe from the ever-present threat of development, which here would mean conversion into yet more second homes and holiday lets.

Cadgwith is visited each year by thousands of holidaymakers. If our fishing activity ever came to an end, the tourism industry would shrink and many local residents would lose their main source of income. The fishermen are at the heart of our strong sense of community and we are doing whatever we can to support them.

Our master plan is for the local parish council to take the freeholds of the buildings in order that they may be held in perpetuity for the fishermen and then for our not-for-profit charitable trust to look after the day-to-day management of them. There will be covenants requiring the buildings to be used by fishermen as long as they are so needed and preventing them from being sold for anyone's private gain. The parish council will still exist in fifty or one hundred years time and will use the buildings for other community purposes if there was no more fishing out of the cove. There can be no element of subsidising the fishermen. They will pay an economic rent, enough to cover all expenses of maintenance and repairs.

We are already well into realising the plan. The council is raising a loan to buy one of the buildings and there is widespread support from parishioners even though the loan repayments may cause a small increase in their local council tax.

For the other two buildings, we have had professional surveys and valuations that tell us we need to find £300,000 to buy and repair them.

This crowdfunding project will hopefully be large enough to form an essential component of that funding.

If you are able to help us, we and the fishermen of Cadgwith will be very grateful for your assistance."

The object of our trust is protection improvement and maintenance of the historic fishing community buildings in Cadgwith Cove in Cornwall.