Firm in oyster controversy

IT supplies some of London’s finest restaurants, including The Ritz and Le Gavroche.

But it is Colchester Oyster Fishery’s work at a seaside resort in Kent that has stoked up the most resentment.

The firm supplies the Orient Express during its stop off in Whitstable, where guests on the �250 trip are treated to an oysters and champagne surprise.

Whitstable has long-established links to the shellfish, with oysters being harvested from the town in Roman times.

James Green, development manager of Whitstable Oyster Fishery, was reported in a national newspaper saying he was furious his company were not asked to serve up the oysters on their own turf.

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But Graham Larkin, operations manager at Colchester Oyster Fishery, who won the contract two years ago, said: “It’s never been our intention to rub anyone’s nose in it, we got the contract by default.

“We would not like it if someone else was supplying oysters at Colchester railway station, but Orient Express said they approached businesses in the area and they could not find anyone to do it. But we don’t know who they have and haven’t contacted.”

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The Orient Express stops off at Whitstable en route back to London Victoria. Guests disembark for 15 minutes, to enjoy Colchester oysters, champagne and a jazz band.

Mr Larkin said Colchester Oyster Fishery – which also supplies lobster, crab, clams and langoustine – has had a business relationship with the Orient Express for many years. The borough of Colchester was granted rights to the oyster beds off Mersea Island in 1189 by Richard I.

Colchester Oyster Fishery was established in 1964,

Both Colchester and Whitstable hold annual festivals celebrating their links to the shellfish.

Every October the Mayor of Colchester hosts a prestigious Oyster Feast, which is attended by civic dignitaries. The feast, which will be held on Friday, dates back to 1845.

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