Livelihoods, Craft and Heritage

Tim’s thesis Livelihoods, Craft and Heritage: Transmissions of Knowledge in Cornish Fishing Villages, funded by the ESRC, was based on field research among fishing communities in West Penwith and the Lizard, Cornwall. It explored how these communities had changed over time, from their medieval origins to the present day; how their history could be traced in the land and seascapes in which they are embedded; the role of cultural heritage (whether fishing and maritime skills, material culture, art or memory) in the maintenance of a dynamic community, sense of place and the sustainability of livelihoods. Tim developed a historical ethnographic methodology which included archival research with historical records, newspapers, maps and photography collections; interviews to gather oral and life histories; participant observation on land and sea, including learning to sail a hundred and fifty year old lugger. He shared his research at international conferences and seminars and published in an influential edited collection on sustainability in marine fisheries.

4 thoughts on “Livelihoods, Craft and Heritage

  1. I thought the writing about the fishing industry in Cornwall fascinating. I’ve visited Cornwall over the last 60 years and remember vividly going mackerel fishing as a little boy. Since then I’ve watched Porthleven change dramatically and am grateful I was able to see some of its original character. I felt your writing and topic deserve a wider audience than your academic thesis. I want to encourage you to publish the interviews and accounts of both the fishing and overlapping art communities. To a wider audience. The quote you use of Alfred Wallis talking of the soul of the fishing boat shaped like a fish seems central. There must be many like me who want to know more about both the past and present fishing, particularly in Cornwall. It’s an activity which is ever present but remote and difficult to access. I’m full of admiration for the way you tackled your topic and your even handed discussion of some of the issues.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comments Richard. I’m glad you found my thesis and that it resonates somehow with your own memories and experiences of Cornwall. I’m also very pleased to hear your perceptive insight about Alfred Wallis’s soul of a boat. I had a gut feeling that was central somehow but it’s a hard thing to articulate, so I’m glad you saw that too. Your comments have given me much food for thought. I have found it hard to make the time and space to work on bringing the thesis to a wider audience, when my working life and creative projects have moved on in many ways, and are very far removed from academia now. However I’ve often felt some nagging regret and frustration that all that hard work has not produced something more widely read. I’m going to have a good think about how I can work on this and I want to thank you for your encouragement in that. Also, well-observed about the rock my dad was mimicking. I can see the camel now and you may know this but I believe that rock is known locally as Bishop’s rock or Bishop’s stone. Something like that anyway… It’s near Rinsey beach, not far along the coast from Porthleven.


      1. Hi Tim
        I’m glad my comments have borne fruit. I suspect your academic thesis may also bear revisiting, I suspect there were lots of issues you raised that may need further unpacking possibly with some of the writing on psychogeography in mind.
        I’m also conscious of issues raised by the Brexit debate and feel your writing has improved my understanding of the attitudes of many Cornish people.
        I look forward to reading more of your blogs and writing.
        PS If you visit the camel/Bishop Rock you’ll find yourself close to our local nesting choughs!


  2. Hi Tim
    I’m glad my comments struck a chord with you. I felt there was a wealth of local detail and information in your thesis which I found really worthwhile. I struggled with some of the concepts raised in the more academic parts but felt again there were issues worth further elaboration. I felt that some of the writing and ideas on psychogeography may further illuminate some of the concepts.
    Best regards
    PS You may find a visit to the camel/Bishop’s Rock may also include a sighting of choughs!


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