crabbing · Cromer · Food & Drink · Norfolk

Photo diary: Cromer crabs from pot to plate

Before moving to south Norfolk I lived in north Norfolk, in Cromer – home of the famous Cromer crab.

I was frequently out on a crab boat, helping where I could.

I was fascinated with the whole crab fishing process and the industry in general, which continues to make up the very fabric of Cromer.

The industry has been a staple of the town for centuries, with generations of families continuing the tradition across the decades.

On the early morning trips to sea I was constantly amazed at how peaceful it often was as the sun rose and the fleet of boats took to the waters.

Cromer crab is a delicacy and most people see them dressed and for sale in shops nestled throughout the town, but I thought that people who hadn’t seen the process from pot to plate, like I had, would find it equally fascinating.

So, on one trip to sea, myself and fisherman Martin Newlands were joined by local photographer Chris Taylor, who documented the trip.

On a recent visit back to the town I saw that morning’s catch being landed and I was reminded of the photos and what a valuable insight they give into the industry that is so important to the town.

The photos were originally posted on twitter through the account of the Gangway Crab Shop which has now closed. We tweeted a photo every day for 40 days, photo by photo revealing a typical morning at sea for one of the town’s fishermen.

Here is the sequence of photographs as it originally appeared, showing the whole process from pot to plate.

1 – 4am, just before launching to sea…the boat Samara
2- 4.45am, after launching to sea from Cromer beach, approaching the first buoy
3 – 4.45am, after launching to sea, Cromer beach is in the distance as the boat heads out to sea
4 – 5am, as the boat approaches its first shank of pots off Cromer
5 – 5.05am, as the first shank of pots is hauled
6 – 5.10am, as the rope is set on the hauler from the first shank of pots
7 – 5.20am, as the first pot of the morning is hauled on board
8 – 5.25am, the first crab of the morning is caught
9 – 5.55am, the first shank of pots are set back out at sea ready for the next day’s catch
10 – 6am, the boat approaches the second shank of pots, will the first lobster of the day be hauled?
11 – 6.15am, the first lobster of the morning
12 – 6.30am, the lobster’s claws are banded as the boat heads to another shank of pots
13 – 6.40am, delicious Cromer crabs are landed on board the boat
14 – 6.50am, the pots are stacked as another shank of pots is hauled into the boat from the North Sea
15 – 6.55am, the catch is sorted
16 – 7.05am, the pots are prepared to be placed back at sea ready for the next day’s haul
17 – 7.10am, the anchor at the end of a shank is thrown back to sea
18 – 7.15am, the boat heads to the fifth shank of pots
19 – 7.30am, the lobster’s claws are banded before the journey back to shore
20 – 7.30am, a glorious Cromer lobster up close
21 – 7.40am, the crabs are sorted as the pots are hauled aboard
22 – 7.50am, a twisted rope is freed on a shank of pots
23 – 7.55am the lobsters are checked as they are taken out of the pots
24 – 8am, the famous Cromer lobster
25 – 8.05am, the catch is sorted from the last shank of pots
26 – 8.10am, the last pot of the day is hauled on board
27 – 8.15am, the last shank of pots is returned to the sea
28 – 8.20am, the crabs are checked from the last pot of the day prior to heading home
29 – 8.25am, Cromer lobsters are prepared for the trip back to shore
30 – 8.25am, Cromer crabs are ready for the journey back to shore
31 – 8.30am, as the boat approaches Cromer
32 – 8.35am, the boat is landed as Martin jumps out to get the tractor
33 – 8.40am, the boat is attached to the tractor ready to be hauled onto the trailer
34 – this sign was 50 yards from the shop and 50 yards from the beach, food miles don’t come much shorter
35 – the crabs are dressed, the lobsters prepared and the sandwiches made – the shop is open
36 – during the season the shop was open seven days a week, weather depending
37 – happy customers buying Cromer crab and lobster
38 – the Cromer lobsters are ready and on sale
39 – customers queue up to get their claws on delicious Cromer crabs and lobsters
40 – after a busy morning at sea, the crabs and lobsters are on sale and it’s time for a cuppa

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into crab fishing in Cromer – the Cromer crab might not be the biggest in the country but they are certainly the sweetest and the tastiest…

All photos taken by Chris Taylor.

4 thoughts on “Photo diary: Cromer crabs from pot to plate

  1. Lovely pictures. Bringing back memories of when I used to go out with Shrimp Davies, when I came home on leave from the RN. John Lee was the other man on board, we were at school together. No elastic bands f of r the lobsters. The claws were tied with line,all done by hand.

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