Translation passed to the Bulletin by Aubrey Stevens from the Dutch newspaper which recalls a bygone Canvey.
No. 85. .
From our Eel out of Friesland – to Billingsgate Fish Market in London.
You speak about Canvey-Island and the Creek, laying dry at low tide near Bumfleet? *
There you have a little village Canvey with a post -office and some shops and a pub “The Red Cow”, and the villagers there have a fine watering-place. Our baiting-place was there the pub “The Lobster Smack” at Holehaven-Creek, from Chas, Buckwheat,** where you could have a fine piece of lobster with a pint of ale. It was very good, I assure you.
Yes, what can I tell you about it. Tradition has it that the Dutch built a dike***round Canvey Island. The dike was a protector against high water in order to make agriculture possible on the landside of the dike. And it is good land there: The English have plenty of dung there of the chalk-cliffs and they are pleased with that dike, constructed in the same way as our dikes.
With low tide our ships were laying in the midst of the waterway, he continued, and with flood they came round, swinging round, on their place again. By high tide the river runs a sight far over the sands, then there is a fall of 12 feet and with spring-tide sometimes 21 feet.
On our question as to adventures in his 24 years of duty most at sea and on board of such small sailing-ships, our “old-master” said: “I don’t like to speak about myself”
In the meantime Mr. De Vreeze’s friend, the old-lockgatekeeper, J.E. de Jong, had “moored alongside” the table, both in their eighties, and they filled a fresh pipe out of the old tobacco-pot. It was after the instance of the yet hale and hearty old Mr. de Jong, who knows all the inland navigation of Friesland and who looked for so many years after the interests of the lockgate of Stavoren that our story-teller
was inclined to tell something about “himsels”.(The Frisian word for himself.)
*Benfleet, of course!
***The Dutch always call seawalls dikes.