The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of different families of saltwater clams (bivalve molluscs that live in marine or brackish habitats). True oysters are members of the family Ostreidae. This family includes the edible oysters, which mainly belong to the genera Ostrea, Crassostrea, Ostreola, and Saccostrea.

Oysters start their lives as larvae which hatch from fertilised eggs. These eventually find suitable sites to attach themselves to and become spats. The larvae prefer sites that include mature oysters, even attaching themselves to mature oyster shells. In this way they form colonies in the intertidal zone of the shoreline which ensures the ongoing propagation of the species. These colonies of oysters are known as oyster beds.

Spats develop into oysters, usually reaching maturity in one year. They are protandric (all male) and in their first year as adults, spawn as males by releasing sperm into the water. As they grow over the next two or three years and develop greater energy reserves, they spawn as females by releasing eggs.

Fishing oysters from the wild

Harvesting oysters depends on the depth of water above the bed. If the bed is exposed, oysters can be collected by hand. In deeper water, oysters are dislodged and collected using rakes from a rowing boat or they are dredged using a powered vessel and/or collected by divers.

Oyster harvesting using rakes (top) and sail driven dredges (bottom). From L'Encyclpédie of 1771

Oyster harvesting using rakes (top) and sail driven dredges (bottom). From L’Encyclpédie of 1771

Oyster farming was practiced by the ancient Romans as early as the 1st century BC on the Italian peninsula. With the Barbarian invasions the oyster farming in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic came to an end.

Oyster Cultivation

Modern oyster farming techniques, using enclosed oyster beds, was developed in France in the mid 19th century. This reduced the losses due to predation and poaching and yielded good quality edible oysters in an efficient way. Water salinity had to be controlled which was achieved by building sluices or weirs to ensure the water in the enclosed beds was re-freshed at each tide, avoiding the creation of salt pans.


Link being used https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_farming

The Hampshire Telegraph reported an “alarming accident” at Hayling Island Station on the 31st October 1892. The engine normally employed on that branch was returning from repairs at Portsmouth. On arrival at Havant it was attached to four ’waggons’ loaded with oysters from Whitstable and a break-van. The coaches forming the branch train were standing [...]

The following article was donated by Ron Lamont who spent considerable time in researching the complicated negotiations between these two companies and has laid this out in his very interesting article. It takes us back to the time of the original proposed line on embankments across the harbour and the changes in route introduced by [...]