Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England
Thirty miles east of London sits the fishing town of Leigh-on-Sea. First references to Leigh, or Legra as it was known date back to the Domesday Book which was compiled in AD 1085 and 1086. Leigh has long been associated with the fishing industry with much of the local population once being largely dependent on the sea for its livelihood. Today, only a small number of local families work in the industry.
The local fishing industry has varied over the years ranging from catching shrimps, to cockles, whitebait and oysters. Since the 1900s cockles have been the main source of shellfish caught in the Thames Estuary although the methods used have changed over the years.
During the early years, cockles were hand raked from the seabed between tides all year round. The cocklers would carry a yoke laden with two baskets from the boat to shore where the cockles were cooked by steaming and then the meat would be separated from the shells by sieving.