Mussels And Eels

A Memory of Boston

Tom and Arthur Smalley earned their living harvesting mussels and netting eels. Their boat was named 'Doreen Mary 2', another boat named 'Doreen Mary' was owned by Sonnie Braime; in fact they lived near each other in Pulvertoft Lane.
In a shed in Edwin Street they used to make eel hives, the shed once was used for fire watching in the war. I used to watch them making eel hives with split cane; a work of art, now lost. I would, at times, ask them for a trip 'down below', a term for going to sea, they never refused.
The day I went for a trip with them, they had to get a pass from a man at the signal box at the swing bridge, who worked for the fisheries; this was war time.
We would head for the Welland where they had mussel lays; the mussels were amongst rocks that lined one side of the Welland. They would weigh anchor, we would get into the rowing boat, which was towed behind the 'Doreen Mary', get onto the rocks, and start putting the mussels into hand-held nets, then wash them in the river, before putting the in the rowing boat. They took some gathering, as they clung to the rocks, which were covered in places with seaweed.
On the way back they would let me steer the boat home.
Other days we would go catching sprats; they were used for bait for the eel hives.

A memory shared by Bob Marriott , on Jan 21st, 2011.

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