A radio interview with the fishermen of Aberdaron.
Broadcast Saturday 29th of June 1946.
Well here we are in Aberdaron, the furthest corner
of the earth, according to some folk, itís pretty little village nestling
at the foot of the hills in a valley on the seashore, totally unspoilt
even though it caters for many holidaymakers during the summer months.
The sea is calm and itís hard to believe that it
could turn stormy causing havoc with the boats and the fishing pots, being
broken and lost and of course keeping the inhabitants of Bardsey
imprisoned for many days and weeks during the winter, and occasionally at
other times too. Tonight weíre in the Aberdaron fishermenís hut. Some of
the fishermen are preparing to go out tonight to their lobster pots.
Are you about to set off Tomos Glyn?
T. Glyn: Well yes, if we could finish getting
these lobster pots ready, the tide took some of our pots last night.
T.O.W: These are good pots, who made them?
H. Parri: We all have a hand in making them, and
we work together.
T.O.W: Oh right, so itís the round ones you make
E. Griffith: Yes, some fishermen like the Bardsey
men use the ones we call the ĎFrenchmenísí pots.
T.O.W: What type of pots are they then, do they
differ a lot from these ones?
E. Griffith: They are long and barrel shaped, with
holes in the end, similar to rat traps, they are made out of canes with
lighter cane or wire woven around them. Some Breton fishermen came fishing
in the bay some fifteen to twenty years ago, and we started chatting with
them, they werenít having much luck and couldnít understand how we were
catching lobsters until they saw our pots, then they used ones similar to
T.O.W: Hang on Iíve just noticed you have
different types of pots, strong round ones with a closer tight weave to
them and the hole, which is the trap is at the top, if I sat on it, it
would be none the worse itís so strong. Thereís a difference to the ones
the Amlwch fishermen make isnít there?
E. Griffith: They make pots with a looser weave
there and they are bigger, the canes they use are greener (younger).
Holyhead, Llandudno and other places around the coast use the oblong ones,
similar to rattraps.
T.O.W: Is yours a traditional type or do you have
a special reason for making lobster pots like these?
E. Griffith: The reason we make large strong pots
like these is that no other type would do in the strong tides, because we
put them down where the tide is around four to six miles an hour.
T.O.W: So you donít put your pots down by the
E Griffith: No we put them out at sea away from
T.O.W: What type of cane do you use Tomos Glyn?
T. Glyn: Two year old grey willow.
T.O.W: Where do you get them? Are there plenty to
be found locally?
T. Glyn: No, thatís the trouble, we have to go as
far as Borth and Rhosfawr to cut them as there are none closer to home, of
course it means quite a lot of work for us, cutting for two or three days,
then hiring a lorry to bring them home.
T.O.W: Do you have a special way to process them
Evan Williams, are you an old hand at this kind of thing?
E. Williams: We cut them as soon as the leaves
have fallen and then bring them home to mature in a damp place for about
three months before we touch them.
T.O.W: Do you leave them to mature where they are
cut as they do with some sorts of wood?
E. Williams: No, we just make sure the bundles of
wood are kept from drying out too much before we use them, if they dry out
too much theyíll split and then itís Goodbye Wales to making anything out
T.O.W: I suppose you have to wet them and prepare
them before you can weave and make them into pots?
E. Williams: No not at all, we start using them
from January onwards, as we need them for the job.
T.O W: Which type of canes do you use?
E. Williams: Grey willow.
T.O.W: Thereís a reddish tint to this lobster pot,
how did you get that colour and why change the colour of the cane?
E. Williams: After weíve finished making the pots
we put them out in the sun for a couple of weeks and the colour changes to
this reddish brown.
T.O.W: Well, what are your reasons for doing that
E. Williams: Well if you donít put a pot down
thatís the same colour as the seaweed and the rocks then you wonít catch
T.O.W: I reckon that the canes that support the
weave for the pots is three years old, comparing them to the rest.
E. Williams, Yes they are, they are stronger and
youíve got to have a good frame.
T.O.W: Why do you weave the frames round the pot
so close together, yours are much closer than on the Amlwch pots.
T. Glyn; You must remember that the lobster is a
very nosey creature, they donít go into the pot for the bait, they go in
to see what it is and whatís in there.
T.O.W: You wonít get many in this pot.
T. Glyn: Youíd be surprised you can get any number
from one to eight every time, and sometimes youíll get one thatís been
T.O.W: Killed? Dear me, by what?
T. Glyn: Oh another lobster, if two lobsters get
into a fight in the pot one is sure to loose heart and the killer escapes
the pot and youíll never catch him.
T.O.W: Is that a characteristic of all killers
after the fight. When you get the pots up and have a poor catch or are
waiting to send them away what do you do with the lobsters then?
T. Glyn: We keep them in the Ďkeep potí... wait a
minute Huw, thereís one yes get it out.... you see the difference.
T.O.W: Well Iíve noticed that this is much larger
than the others, why is it woven so close and so very tight at the top Huw
H. Parri: Well this is a keep pot and when you
think that a large number of lobsters are kept for days in it, naturally
struggling to get out, the pots are down quite deep, you need three ropes
to tie them on the surface apart from the ropes that anchor them to the
seabed to keep them stable in the tides, and you need the strength to keep
the top on it, as on this keep pot as compared to the ordinary pots.
T.O.W: Well, William Evans, what sort of pots do
you make and use out there in Bardsey?
W. Evans: Well, the same as these, round two year
old grey willow and sometimes we use hazel for the ribs, as we in Bardsey
have to put our pots down in the deep in the same way as the lads from the
mainland do, we also use the ĎFrenchmenís pots by the rocks, more so for
crabs rather than lobsters. Fishing conditions are the same for us as they
are for the lads from the mainland.
T.O.W: So do you grow canes on Bardsey then?
W. Evans: No, not any more. When the farms and
houses on Bardsey were full there were about twelve plantations around the
stream that runs across the island, and plenty of cane for everyone, but
theyíre run down now, nobody looks after them, so theyíve grown too big
and of no use to anyone, thereís nothing to be done but to get them from
the lads on the mainland.
T.O.W: How many of you make pots and fish on the
W. Evans: All of us can make our own pots, but
there are only four of us that fish on a regular basis, we have to make
sure our pots are strong enough to withstand the current.
T.O.W: How do you get on up there at Borth, Huw
H. Williams: Naturally we have the same pots, but
as we put our pots down in the north towards Whistling
we loose a lot of pots there. The tides are different there, itís on the
ebbing tide that we loose pots, but here itís on the incoming tide that
they loose pots, they get thrown against the rocks and smashed to bits.
T.O.W: Youíd argue for having strong pots then, as
do these four partners.
H. Williams: Oh yes, and stronger if possible,
trouble is three year old willow gets too hard and inflexible to use.
T.O.W: Well donít you think it would be beneficial
for all of you who make a living out of making lobster pots and fishing to
have a Willow Plantation, for your own use, say you had four or five acres
of land and planted the trees and tended them during the year as an
alternative use of the land, it would be really useful and far better for
H. Williams: Oh yes it would be very beneficial,
but where would we get the land.
E. Griffith: You need wet lands for growing canes,
much wetter than anything we have around here.
T.O.W: Not necessarily. You need damp conditions
naturally, some folk believe you need water around the roots of the trees
because they mostly grow on river banks.
T. Glyn: Well say we were keen to get a suitable
place and get on with it, is it possible to get help to buy the land and
then proper guidance as to how to care for a plantation.
T.O.W: That depends on you to some degree, if you
could expand the business employing more men from the area in fishing, and
thereís no shortage of fish here is there.
E. Griffith: Plenty of fish, but thereís a lack of
boats, pots and a market for the fish, at present we sell them locally in
Pwllheli, but we could expand. Itís a tidy living.
T.O.W: Well I can assure you that thereís help to
be had with how to set up and look after a willow plantation
how to make the best and most economical use of the willow and also help
with marketing if needs be. It wouldnít be too difficult to make an
application for you to get more practical help.
Iím sure you catch other types of fish too.
H. Parri: Oh yes with the lobsters we get crayfish
and crabs, and sometimes youíll see some strange things in the pots. We
catch mackerel and herring by the thousands on the way home from the
T.O.W: Weíre very familiar with the term Nefyn
Herrings, but thereís not much mention of Aberdaron herring. Well how
about it then why not have some Canning Factories on the Llyn Peninsula
such as they have in Milford Haven and Fleetwood and that way you could
help more people find employment keeping them here in Llyn instead of them
leaving to find work in other areas. It could be the start of a whole new
industry based on one that is traditional to Llyn and itís inhabitants.
Youíve got a good nucleus here and an opportunity to get it off to a good
T. Glyn: Well I can talk for all of us and say
that we are all very willing to get together and conform with any project
thatíll help us add to the food stocks of this country.
T.O.W: Well, itís worthwhile thinking about