Mistral. Journal of the Mersea Island Society. 2007 Page 46.
Ostreiculture over the last forty years, by a Mersea Oysterman.
The first view of Mersea, arriving by car, is from the Strood, a road that connects Mersea Island
to the Mainland. At high water on spring tides, the mighty motor car cannot cross it and
has met its match. Six hours later all has changed. There is no water to be seen.
The marsh and mud are king. As a child I could smell the aroma of all this, but now I cannot,
for I am part of this and this is part of me.
On arriving at the Waterfront forty years ago, it was dominated by the Stokers, Mussetts, Banks,
Frenchs and, of course, Ted Woolf. This was the centre of oyster cultivation in Essex, perhaps in
England. There were merchants all along the Coast Road who sent Natives and Portuguese oysters
every day to London and seaside resorts. These concerns had their oyster grounds in the many
creeks that make up the archipelago around Mersea Island. As well as this, there were other
families, Vinces, Hawards, Milgates, Heards and many others who toiled every day on their own
private grounds or outside in the river to supply these merchants.
At 6.30 every morning in the week or maybe earlier, the Waterfront would come alive with a
small army of men beginning work. In the winter, when it was dark, if you saw someone,
the recognition call was "Yo!" If he was a friend he would return it.
How it used to be done. Dredging on the smack DAISY BELL circa 1904. For a better copy, see MMC_P755_024