Proposed Oyster Fishery, 1905
A well-attended public meeting was held at the National School, New Road, Wootton on Thursday 26th February to consider an application made to the Board of Trade by Lord Henry Scott and Major Boyle on behalf of the Wootton Oyster Fishery Company.
Mr. W. Hobbs was elected as chairman and he then outlined details of submission and said there were several interests involved in the application. Firstly, the company proposed to lease out both sides of the creek for building purposes and existing business could be affected. He gave an example how the application would affect his own business by saying that most of the material for his yard was either delivered or taken away by barge. Often the barges were weather bound, and if they damaged the oyster beds he would be faced with claims for damages or, if the barges were banned from entering the creek, he would then have to close his business.
The next interest that had to be considered was that of existing fishermen who depended on the creek for their livelihood, and currently fished within the proposed planning application boundaries. A further consideration was that if the Coal Company’s barges were banned from the creek there would be an increase in the cost of coal. In the future there was a possibility that Wootton would become a principal depot for laying up yachts in winter, which would create work for local people.
The chairman then read out a letter that had been received from F. White-Popham J.P. “I very much regret, that it is not in my power to attend the meeting which is to be held to-morrow at Wootton, for the purpose of taking into consideration the application which has been made to the Board of Trade by Wootton Oyster Company. I am of the opinion that the inhabitants of Wootton and Fishbourne should view this application with much circumspection, as it is of great importance to them that the fairway between the mouth of the river and the bridge should be maintained. It would appear, if privileges sought by the company are conceded to them, that the existing facilities for laying up of yachts would be greatly restricted or altogether abolished. This is a matter of much importance to the inhabitants of the locality, especially at the present time, when from the high charges at neighbouring ports, vessels which are laid up at Wootton river may be caused to be greatly increased”.
A letter from Captain Harvey was then read out to the meeting. He regretted being unable to attend but wrote:- 'Judging from the action at law, recently lost by The Medina River Oyster Company against the Borough of Newport, oyster beds seem to be captious neighbours. To give up the bed of the creek to this purpose would probably seriously interfere with other purposes for which it has long been available. Now it is far from impossible that the shipbuilding trade may be revived in Wootton creek. The station is very favourable for wintering yachts, and many circumstances combine to render some other stations, at present much resorted to for this purpose, undesirable. A trade of this kind would be of much more importance to Wootton than a little employment given by oyster beds, but the establishment of oyster beds would certainly prevent any attempt being made'.
The chairman then read out details of the proposed application, which was for a period of 42 years and covered an area of 135 acres.
In response, Mr. Benbow said that when he first read the application it occurred to him that it was one of a very sweeping wholesale character. The land to be taken included many points, which they were not prepared to concede at once. He had spoken to Major Boyle, who was present in the audience, and thought that the proposals could have been simplified had he seen them earlier. He believed the Major was willing to concede there were inaccuracies in the Ordnance Survey map, which concerned them. He then went on to said that they should look at the application in the worst possible light as the promoters could sell the undertaking to people or organisations who would not respect agreements, legal or otherwise. He went on to say that not only should yacht owners' interests be considered, but also the interests of inhabitants who conducted vessels up and down the creek. These vessels used set poles, which would damage the oyster beds, and there was a risk to the oyster from the coal barges, which used the creek. He suggested that if the promoters would give material guarantees that they would reserve spaces on either side of the creek for the laying up of yachts, and no commercial interest would be affected, then a compromise could be reached.
Responding for the company Major Boyle was surprised at the number of objections that had been made. He did not think he had been illiberal to the fishermen, having given them the 70 Pounds they had asked for. Their moorings would be provided by himself, and he did not wish to disturb the yachts. If a house was built on the foreshore the land down to low water would belong to that house.
Mr Please asked why posts were proposed at the high water mark; in response, Major Boyle said they could not be seen if placed at low water mark.
A proposal was then made and seconded:
“That this meeting opposes the application of the promoters of the Wootton Fishery Order, and that a letter of objection be drawn up and sent to the Board of Trade, requesting that an inspector be sent to examine the matter”.
It was pointed out that an inquiry would be held into the application.
A motion was then proposed and seconded, that the people who signed the requisition calling for the meeting [Messrs Hobbs, Souter, Cooper, Osborne and Newbury] form a committee to monitor proceeding and collect subscriptions to defray any expenses; Edmund Brading would act as secretary.
Proposed Oyster Beds Wootton Creek
As a result of proceedings taken by residents to oppose the application of Lord Henry Scott M.P. and others, for a Provisional Order for the seizure of Wootton Creek, and its appropriation for the establishment of oyster fisheries, the application has been withdrawn. The chairman of the Wootton Creek action committee has received notification from the Board of Trade that the promoters have abandoned their application for the order.
Source: Isle of Wight County Press