Oyster season launched in special event

COLCHESTER'S civic dignitaries have marked the beginning of the oyster fishery season in traditional fashion.The annual gin and gingerbread ceremony took place yesterday in the Pyefleet Channel, off Mersea Island, marking the first oyster dredge of the season.

COLCHESTER'S civic dignitaries have marked the beginning of the oyster fishery season in traditional fashion.

The annual gin and gingerbread ceremony took place yesterday in the Pyefleet Channel, off Mersea Island, marking the first oyster dredge of the season.

Colchester Borough Council's ownership of the fishery dates to the Charter of 1189 and the traditional opening ceremony goes back to 1540.

Mayor of Colchester, Richard Gower, chief executive Adrian Pritchard and Town Serjeant Richard Buckle were all decked out in full regalia to play their parts in the proceedings.


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The event was witnessed formally by about 40 guests, who then tucked into an oyster lunch onboard the sailing barge Hydrogen.

The Proclamation, an ancient tongue-twister, was read by Mr Pritchard to officially declare the fishery open for the season.

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The mayor then raised the loyal toast to The Queen, accompanied by drinking gin and eating gingerbread, before the first dredge of oysters was made.

As part of the tradition, a tele-message was sent to The Queen at Balmoral Castle stating: “According to ancient Custom and Charter dating back to Norman times, the mayor and councillors of the Colchester Borough Council will formally proclaim the opening of the Colne Oyster Fishery for the coming season and will drink to your Majesty's long life and health and request respectfully to offer to your Majesty their expressions of dutiful loyalty and devotion.”

Guest speaker was Colchester historian Andrew Phillips.

Meanwhile, the fourth Annual Maldon District Oyster and Seafood Festival was also held yesterday to launch Maldon Seafood Month.

The event included a seafood buffet, with food supplied by the Maldon Oyster and Seafood Company.

Entertainment was provided by students from The Plume School, Maldon.

As part of Maldon Seafood Month, restaurants, pubs and cafes across the area are including a seafood theme in all their menus.

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