This film is part of Free

Fisheries Experimental Station, Castle Bank, Conway.

Muscles and mussels: men and horses move mountains of shellfish as they transport them from sea to purification tanks to railway station.

Documentary 1950 12 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


It takes muscles – those of man and horse - to move hefty sackloads of mussels from sea to boat to purification tank to lorry and train. This is an excellent record of the mussel industry at its height in Conwy [now the accepted spelling], showing the various processes. The viewer can only wonder, however, at the weights carried. Could the sacks not have been smaller, the lorry loads lighter?

The Fisheries Experimental Station was set up in Conwy in 1913 although it took until c. 1928 for reliable methods of purification to be achieved, thanks to research undertaken by Dr Robert W Dodgson (awarded an OBE for the work in 1936). An average of 500 tonnes of mussels passed through the tanks each year, September-April, until new hygiene regulations forced closure in 1999. The mussel beds were re-seeded before long, however, and approved ultra-violet purification is now used in the smaller but thriving industry. Oyster breeding was trialled in the 1920s, utilising the tanks during the summer, but the weather proved too variable and in the mid 1930s indoor oyster facilities were built.