The first of a series of articles featuring extracts from our archives….
Extract from ‘Fishing News’ 22nd January 1971
From a port where century-old facilities were creaking under the strain of a progressive and expanding ﬂeet, Brixham has been transformed into one of the most modern inshore ﬁshing centres in Europe.
Built at a cost of £325,000 by the County Borough of Torbay, supported by the
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the new ﬁsh jetty opened last week is an integral unit combining a ﬁsh market, cold stores, processing plant, research laboratory, transport loading bays ofﬁces and a patent slipway.
A welcoming crowd of several hundred people including ﬁshermen, their families and townspeople saw Mr James Prior, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food unveil a plaque to open the new fish market and Jetty.
At the opening ceremony he remarked: “The port of Brixham is coming into its own once again. The amount of ﬁsh landed has risen steadily in the last four or ﬁve years, and I am delighted the ﬁshermen are to have proper marketing facilities.”
When he stepped ashore Mr. Prior commented: “It is the ﬁrst time I have been out in a ﬁshing boat and have not been ill.”
Since the formation of the fish marketing co-operative Brixham and Torbay Fish Ltd. in 1964, and the growing number of modern diesel engined trawlers ranging up to 75ft., Brixham started to re- gain some of the eminence it had as a ﬁshing port at the turn of the century. Since 1964 landings have consistently risen from 1,500 tons to 2,200 tons in 1969. ‘
But the pace of progress at the port had overtaken the facilities, which were a serious impediment to any further expansion of the fleet.
Describing the situation in the recently published book, Fishing Ports and Markets, Mr. E. W. H. Gifford. of the consulting engineers to the Brixham harbour project said: “ Trawlers must arrive in the harbour before low water if they are to land their catch onto the quay and the fish must then be transported in trolleys some 200m to the market, through a main street thronging with visitors in the summer. The ice must also be carried from the ice plant the same way. This wasteful movement costs £5000 a year in labour alone. But the ﬁshermen’s troubles are not over when they have berthed for falling tide leaves their boats dry and liable to damage. They cannot return to sea again until the tide returns and so that fishing time is often lost.”