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Evelyn & Working Boat Heritage

Finding Inspiration in Every Breeze

Kenny leading Evelyn out of St Mawes - Copy.tif
Kenny dredging in Evelyn 1 - Copy.tif

Evelyn, like all Falmouth Working Boats both old and not so old, owes its 125 years survival to the Fal Oyster and crucially to a restrictive 1868 Bye Law that stated that dredging for oysters in the Fal could not be carried out " by any boat propelled by mechanical power." Since that time to the present day Oysters can only be harvested in the Fal using sail and oar power and that its dredges, of a specified size and design, can only be hauled by hand.


The effect of this unique management practice has been three fold. As well as preserving the Oyster banks from over exploitation and creating Europe's last commercial sailing fleet, it also ensured the preservation of a way of life. And the men whose livelihoods came from oyster dredging during the winter and from in-shore fishing in the summer made sure these boats would last for generations.


And naturally during the summer, given the many village and town regattas around the Fal Estuary, racing their dredging boats for both the honour and the prize money became embedded within this lifestyle. And by the 1950s and 60s racing had become more than just a sport for the skippers and their crews but also an essential part of the social life of the working boat community.


The current fleet of 25 working boats that regularly race have evolved from this heritage. There are six including Evelyn that were built in the 19th century (wooden of course) and more modern boats built mostly in the 60s and 70s in GRP.


Remarkably the builder of Evelyn, Frank Hitchens, also built other Falmouth Working Boats that survive to this day. In 1868 'Shadow' (currently undergoing restoration); 'Victory' in 1884 (originally named Royal Oak) still a very successful member of the racing fleet; 'Mabel' in 1895;  and 'Softwings' in 1900 which can be seen as an exhibit in the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

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