Wednesday, 27 February 2013


In the Spring of 1919 there were experiments being carried out at Beer to see if the East Devon fishing fleets could benefit from fishing boats being fitted with motors.   The Devon Sea Fisheries Committee reported on these trials and the 'Fish Trade Gazette' commented on the Committee's report.   The Gazette was not convinced  that the trials had been necessary.   It seemed pretty obvious to the Gazette that fishermen would want to use motors.

"To praise and point to the greater efficiency of motor power should be superfluous now;  it is like painting the lily and gilding refined gold  -   it is a 'ridiculous excess'    The fisherman with brains is converted.   But the problem is how to get the cash for the engine. Here the Government can help through various channels....    If the Government is slow to act,  why should not the makers of the motors develop the hire purchase scheme on a large scale?   As we know the risk of bad debts is small and the profits should be sufficient to discount such as there may be.   Fishermen are slow to learn;   they are intensely conservative;  but they are as honest as they are brave,  and no class of men could ask for a higher testimony."

Here on the Estuary it was some years before the honest, brave fishermen had their engines.  Whether from slowness, conservatism or shortage of cash, the fishing fleets were still under sail well into the nineteen twenties.   The boats were still constrained to lie at sea for days and nights when the breezes were unfavourable.   In due time all that was to change  and the sight of boats with  tan sails passing silently across the bar, out to sea and back again and up and down the Estuary would be lost for ever.  

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