Jack Harvey, Matt Harvey and Gerald Harvey, grading live crawfish from floating store boxes, on the canners slip, Newlyn in the mid 1960’s
Trading in Newlyn since 1955 (and living here before that) our business has a rich history based both in Newlyn harbour and the village itself. It's nice to be able to share a bit of that history with you!
Diana Princess of Wales visited Newlyn on June 30th 1988 to officially open the Fish Market. During this visit Ronnie Harvey, Gerald Harvey, Matt Harvey & Paul Harvey had the pleasure of meeting Princess Diana. Matt Harvey showed Princess Diana some prime specimen, craw fish, lobsters, brown crabs and spider crabs. Residents at Kensington Palace enjoyed a fine lobster salad that night!
W. HARVEY & SONS FLEET
The trade in the first few years was only over a short and seasonal market. In the winter and spring months the firms boat "The Three Brothers" was fished to subsidise earnings. As the length of seasons and trade grew the firm realised that it would be better to engage a full time skipper and crew. The firm owned many potting boats until the late 2000's. Most were of French construction and able to keep their catch alive in seawater holding tanks until landing and very nearly all were named after family members.
THE W. HARVEY & SONS TRUCKS
Our trucks have visited many of the Cornish and South Devon Coves, Ports and Harbours buying shellfish to bring back to Newlyn or for carriage to the Old Billingsgate Fish Market in London and other markets in Bristol and Cardiff. This was before road improvements, congestion charges and the M25. On return trips second hand tea chests were bought and used to pack the next loads shellfish. Pasteurised whole crabs were also delivered by our trucks all the way to Sweden.
Thankfully refrigerated logistics have improved and our trucks don't have to do as many miles!
MEETING THE QUEEN
In 1980 Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke of York visited Newlyn. During the visit The Queen named the new pier The Mary Williams Pier.
The Queen and her party also visited our newly built shellfish storage tanks to be introduced to all the Partners. Ronnie Harvey, Jack Harvey and Gerald Harvey had the pleasure of demonstrating our live shellfish, cooked shellfish and shellfish pots to the Royal party. Can you see two of the youngest business Partners as children?
The harbour and village of Newlyn has changed a little since 1955. The image above shows our fishing vessel "William Harvey" in Newlyn before the building of the harbour car park, the infilling at Keel Alley, the construction of the Mary Williams Pier and before the improved Fish Market.
Boats too have changed, now we have port letters and numbers, multiple radios, satellite communications, epirbs, safety railings, inflatable life jackets, hydraulic slave winches, microwave ovens, washing machines and tumble driers!
HOW IT ALL BEGAN IN 1955
William Harvey and his three sons Ronnie, Jack and Gerald began selling crabs, craw-fish and lobsters in 1955 to satisfy a short seasonal market. In the winter and spring months their boat "The Three Brothers" was fished to subsidise earnings. The business originally traded from a small unit in The Fradgan behind the Fish Market, close to the Old Post Office right in the centre of historic Newlyn. A two storey building at Tolcarne was also used as a maintenance base for fishing vessels, transport and property; and for cold storage. The current Coombe headquarters were taken over unit by unit from neighbours as they retired or moved on. This building has always been associated with the fishing industry. Salt was shovelled into one large store and this was used to cure the locally caught pilchards; alongside the salt store, stables were provided for horses used to transport fish from boats landing on beaches; haylofts were used above the stables; at the southern end were fish packing stores. The business had sole ownership in 1974 and adapted this building into a retail outlet, cooking, processing, storage and administration unit while still retaining its historic charm.
WILLIAM HARVEY & SONS
The image above shows William Harvey, Gerald Harvey, Ronnie Harvey & Jack Harvey grading live lobsters and craw fish from a beached store box in Newlyn Harbour. Live shellfish were originally stored in floating wooden boxes in the harbour and sold to live shellfish carrying boats visiting weekly in season from France. However, the hours were long and the work was tough so in 1979 the Partners opened a purpose built live shellfish storage building that is capable of holding 30 tons in fresh sea water. Shellfish is now held here before use in the factories or before despatch live throughout the UK and Western Europe.
Fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations and accidents at sea are a fact of life. W. Harvey & Sons were one of the first fishing boat owners to carry out risk assessments on their boats and organised helicopter rescue training for our crews with the help of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and Penlee Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
RNAS Culdrose used their skills just a few weeks later when one of our skippers was rescued by a Seaking helicopter at night whilst fishing off the Isles of Scilly, thank you RNAS Culdrose!
Fishermen don't just catch fish. They set nets; make pots; build, purchase, maintain and overhaul boats; engage and manage crews; correspond with officialdom and market their catch. They fish sustainably ensuring stocks are available for future years. Some fishermen are also skilled in arts and craft, building, field work and milking to generate an income during lean winter months.
Fishermen also add great character to our numerous ports, coves and harbours.