An Oral History of the Conwy Mussel Fishing Industry
The Conwy mussel industry has existed for a long time. In fact, not so many years ago over ninety fishermen worked on the Conwy River fishing for mussels. Despite increased competition from dredged and rope grown mussels and changes to purification regulations, the way mussels are fished remains unchanged.
In Roman times, valuable pearls could be found in the mussels of the river Conwy. A pearl from the shores upstream gleams among the Crown Jewels; this exceptionally large jewel was allegedly presented to Catherine, consort of Charles 11, by her chamberlain, Sir Richard Wynne of Gwydir, in the seventeenth century.
Over the years trade in pearls flourished, with Conwy soon becoming one of the most important pearl fisheries in Britain. For years mussels had been fished solely for these pearls, with the flesh from the shellfish being cast aside or fed to animals. As pearls became rarer, mussels were fished especially for their food, and the industry that thrives today was born.
Since the first days of the mussel fishing industry, generations of the same few families of Conwy fishermen have worked here, on the same beaches in the estuary. Until quite recently, the women of the mussel fishing families could also be found picking and sorting. The musselmen use the same techniques as their forefathers did, with the mussels being gently raked up from the beds and dropped into the boat before being brought to shore for sorting and cleaning.
Audiotrails have been created by TAPE Community Music & Film through the Our Heritage project.There are seven trails, starting at different sites and varying in walking time from 30-40 minutes upwards.
The trails all include historical detail, information on the development of the mussel industry, and extracts from interviews from press articles and interviews with the musselmen.
The Story of Conwy's Mussel Fishing Industry
application/pdf / 6.9 MB
Download Audio Tour
Mussel Fishing Trail 1
audio/mpeg / 62.59 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 2
audio/mpeg / 51.99 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 3
audio/mpeg / 60.95 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 4
audio/mpeg / 64.86 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 5
audio/mpeg / 65.71 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 6
audio/mpeg / 62.59 MB
Mussel Fishing Trail 7
audio/mpeg / 56.92 MB