Thursday, 1 December 2011


"To the Editor of the EXMOUTH JOURNAL

SIR,- We have all, I am sure, heard with pleasure of the proposed 'Sailor's Rest', which seems in a way to become one of the Institutions of the place.  We all sympathise with sailors and fishermen, and nearly every one in the community is, I imagine, willing to help, according to their power, in this effort for their comfort and well-being.  

But, while we help them,  does it not seem a little too bad that of all the nice fresh fish these men bring ashore so small a portion, if any, is available for the people of Exmouth - and that it must be sent off to different parts of the kingdom and come back to us from London and elsewhere, not improved by the journey?  Sailors and fishermen,  as a rule, like fair play,  and if the good people of Exmouth do their best to provide a Sailors' and Fishermen's Shelter, ought we not to have the chance of buying such fish as is brought in daily by the fishermen?

Fresh fish is a palatable and wholesome food and a plentiful and cheap supply would be a great boon to all classes in Exmouth.

Yours truly,

Exmouth,  January 3rd  1898."

"Housekeeper" wrote this  trenchant  but patronising letter almost one hundred and fourteen years ago but it has been revealed to me, by way of extra sensory perception, that she, yes definitely 'she' , was in fact a mean old biddy,  an Exmouth landlady,  who contributed not so much as a mite to the Flying Angel charity that set up the Exmouth Seaman's Mission  in Victoria Road and who did not give a shrimp's whisker for the comfort and wellbeing of seafarers.  She was rather one who dreamed nightly of serving, cheap, cheap, cheap, boiled fish every 'teatime' to her suffering Victorian holiday guests.   If  I'm wrong in this , may her shade forgive me!

It is no doubt true that the fishermen sold their catch regularly to the London buyers but I don't believe that there was not, in 1898, a local supply of fresh fish available to those Exmothians who were prepared to pay the market price for it.

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