There’s a special chance to learn about traditional lobster pot-making at Living Coasts on Friday April 1st. Dave French is the fifth generation of his family to make crab and lobster pots from willow. He is one of only 10 people in the world who can make pots in this way.
Clare Rugg, Operations Manager at Living Coasts, said: “It is wonderful to watch him at work – and it’s an important tradition. The skill has been passed down through his family – each family has a design of their own. We have one of his pots on show as theming in our Local Coasts area.” Living Coasts is home to one female native lobster, showing visitors the sort of animals that live in our local seas.
The withy pots are made from willow grown in Somerset – the area has grown for and supplied the needs of the fishing families of Budleigh Salterton for decades. The willow is cut in the winter and made into lobster pots between January and March. Dave does demonstrations at shows during the year, including the Brixham Fishstock festival in September.
This working practice has now become a traditional craft, and is carbon neutral because willow is cut and replanted. A full-size working pot takes between 4.5 and 5 hours to make, using as many as 160 willow rods of 7 to 9 feet in length and 320 4 feet rods. Pots tend to last one season – from March to September or October. A fisherman might have up to 60.
“My family has made and used these pots for fishing for generations. I am more than happy to teach people this craft in the hope that they will take up this old way of life before it is gone.” For more information go towww.livingcoasts.org.uk or ring 01803 202470.