Like the first edition published in 2006 this completely revised and updated version is still both attractively and practically designed. The concealed spiral binding allows it to remain open at any page in rucksack or on chart table without damage, and yet have a title spine for bookshelf display. Its content is also multipurpose.
The first edition has been found useful to tourists, and holiday makers, as well as those with a professional interest. As an illustrated guide to coastal places in Cornwall associated with fishing past and present, it suggests a purposeful way to explore and learn about the Cornish coast; but because it contains a photographic and listed record of the contemporary registered fishing boats to be found in these places it also has a wider usefulness. This ranges on the one hand from a family 'I spy' potential, to a unique photographic record for the historian and a companion for fishing industry support services or an aide for safety/emergency crews on the other.
Stewart Lenton came to write the original book because as a volunteer watch keeper at the National Coast Watch Institution he identified a need for a photographic record of fishing boats as recognition aid at their lookouts where there is a requirement to log all passing vessels. It was often difficult to identify specific fishing boats because fishing gear would frequently obscure the names and registration numbers of these working boats. As a keen and competent photographer himself, Lenton therefore set about fulfilling this need. This meant travelling to and seeking out any places in Cornwall where fishing boats might be found. His wife Liz frequently accompanied him on these trips and as they had only recently moved to the area they found it an excellent way to get to know it. Repeated visits were necessary to capture all the boats which by definition would often be out fishing, and Liz took the opportunity to familiarise herself with local attractions, history and traditions. They found these visits exciting and stimulating. Well known places were seen in a different light, not just in their holiday postcard attractiveness but imagining them as places where at one time whole families worked together catching, processing and marketing fish. They found other fascinating and photogenic places unlikely to be on any tourist itinerary and perhaps with few if any boats today, but with an interesting history. They became inspired to share their findings in an attempt to motivate others to make their own discoveries.
Stewart has continued to improve on his photography whenever the opportunity has presented, and has kept a record of this on this website (updated more frequently than can be the case with the books). The preferred photographs are of the vessel on the water and underway. Of necessity he sometimes has to content himself with an image in a boat yard or under covers. Continually updating his fishing boat photography and keeping abreast of changes has enabled Stewart to have good foundation for this second edition which is a complete revision of the first, and of course the necessary trips to various coastal destinations in Cornwall has usually proved no hardship!
The second edition follows the same general format as the first. From the information collected on the photographic trips and research done later, Stewart has written a brief narrative about each 'port' which was also illustrated with photographs, maps and diagrams as necessary. This is followed by the list of boats which should be there and his photographs of the boats. There is an Introductory section before the individual 'ports' are considered in turn clockwise round the coast from the River Tamar in the South to Bude in the North followed by the Isles of Scilly.
In the introduction to the first edition Liz wrote a section from the viewpoint of the non fishing boat enthusiast of things of interest to be found when visiting the coast accompanying someone in pursuit of registered fishing boats. In this edition she has concentrated on trying to explain concerns that the contemporary fishing community and those in related occupations may have with the increasing regulation of their industry and topical things of which the reader may have become aware from media coverage e.g. 'quotas' and the compulsory discarding of fish overboard even though already dead. Also in the Introduction the authors have included simple background explanations of commercial fishing for others like themselves, who have no background in the fishing industry, including the types of fishing boats and the fishing gear used for different varieties of catch. They have added some historical information on the renowned Cornish pilchard industry of past centuries which involved men women and children - the remains of which can still to be found on the coast. There is also a section on the administration and registration of commercial fishing boats and the meaning of the letters and numbers they display. Boats change the port in which they are based from time to time as well as their physical appearance providing an additional challenge to their identification. Several photographs of the same boat with very different appearances taken at different times are included to illustrate such changes. The book concludes with and an alphanumerical and also an alphabetical index allowing a boat to be found by both its name and number. The type of boat, brief details of it and where she is kept makes it possible to look for her in the appropriate ports pages.
NB The Fishing Boats & Ports of Cornwall by Stewart Lenton has been nominated for a Holyer An Gof award in Class 5,1(Non-fiction in which illustrations predominate) The H An G is promoted annually by Gorsedh Kernow for publications relating to Cornwall or the Cornish language.
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