I am new to Emsworth. Oysters, to me, have always meant "pearls!" (Unobtainable!) "aphrodisiac!" (Hmm! Really?) "very expensive hors d'oeuvres!" (I'll just have the soup.) or "pretty shells!" (Nice ornaments - need dusting.)


Oysters, to Emsworth, mean much, much more, as the Museum's latest exhibition clearly showed. Here oyster fishing has spanned more than four hundred years. Its growth, its importance locally and the problems it faced were described in some of the large, colourful wallcharts displayed in the Ruskin Room. The charts were very informative - but this exhibition was not just about oysters.

More importantly it was about how Emsworth is ensuring that this part of its history is remembered and passed on to future generations. So the charts continued to tell how local fishermen, the business community, local artists and a local school joined forces to document Emsworth's oyster-fishing past and bring that story to everyone now.


 A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled local film-makers to produce a film: "Emsworth Oysters"; and local schoolchildren also made a film: "Death of the Dredge". A Schools Project Pack was developed, linked to the National Curriculum. Emsworth's last remaining oyster-fishing boat, the "Terror", has been restored and Chichester Harbour Conservancy supports boat trips on the "Solar Heritage" to see the oyster beds and the old fleet moorings. Emsworth Food Festival has also been involved, with local chefs creating oyster recipes.

In the exhibition, besides the atttractive wallcharts there was a centre table devoted to activities for children: quiz sheets, colouring projects, model-making projects, badges. And for mum (and dad?) there were colourful recipe cards.

Hats off to Emsworth Museum for showing us how a community's past can be brought into its present and carried on into its future.