Monday, 8 March 2010


On October 12th 1922 the evening was breezy and Samuel Squire, fisherman of Lympstone, had been trawling out at sea and had not had much luck. He had caught only enough fish to cover the bottom of his basket. Ten minutes before he passed the line which the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee had fixed as the limit for fishing with trawl or trammel he put out his trawl again. It was his last hope.

This was the kind of dusky, blowy October evening when Exmouth front looks deserted. No doubt Sam was keeping his eye out for anyone who might be watching. He did not see Fishery Officer Pym, who was employed by the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee and who was probably lying low and squinting at him through a pair of binoculars.

The bye-law had been passed in 1904 but the Committee knew their law was being flouted. They wanted to make an example of some poor fisherman to encourage the others to observe the limit and Sam was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he was still trawling well over the line Fishery Officer Pym was rowed out by boatman Thomas Thomson towards Sam's little trawler. At the last minute Sam saw him coming and the trawl was hauled in but by this time it was too late! The boat was by now between the Clock Tower and the pier.

The next month Sam was up before the Exmouth Magistrates' Bench. Richard Turner, fisherman of Topsham, was there too, charged with the same offence. Richard had been fishing in the channel earlier that same day and he too had fallen victim to Fishery Officer Pym. Both fishermen were found guilty of trawling inside the line and heavily fined.

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