Queenborough Fishery Trust

1859 – 1914

Following an extended period of economic hardship for Queenborough, the 1850s saw the start of a shift in fortunes. New industries started to prosper in the area including glass works, coal washing, cement works, potteries and oyster fishing. The Swale was bridged when the railway came in 1860.

From the very beginning Queenborough Fishery Trust Trustees entered into an array of indentures, leases and licences with individuals and organisations. In this respect the history of the Trust is complex and at times difficult to navigate.

The information we have gathered from our archived records has been set out below. We have no minutes of meetings between September 1876 and May 1907 and we know certain records have sadly been lost over time.

The Declaration of Trust restricted all leases to a maximum period of 21-years.
On 2 May 1859 the Trustees granted their first lease to Messieurs Madams and Company for one nautical mile of fishery land with exclusive right to dredge oysters for 21-years. This was followed on 9 May 1859 by a second lease to Messrs. Willliamson for a separate part of the Fishery land.

On 25 November 1875 the Trustees granted an indenture to Sir William Crundell, a Timber Merchant of Dover, pertaining to Shepherd’s Creek. The indenture gave him authority to use Cutter’s Dock for 21 years, subject to a rental payment, and an additional £1 for each ship arriving and departing in Queenborough used by William Crundell. The lease was surrendered in 1896.
William Crundell also entered into a separate lease with QFT on 2 June 1883 for an additional “parcel of the foreshore”. This was extended for a further 21-years in 1903 by the Crundell family. By 1886 we know William Crundell was sub-letting both parcels of land.

On 31 December 1875 the Trustees granted a licence to London Chatham and Dover Railway Company (LCDRC) to construct works for the purpose of extending the Pier and Pier Head. The LCDRC had recently inaugurated the Queenborough-Flushing (Holland) steamer service. The license required a payment of “£1 for every steam ship and two shillings for every sailing ship arriving and departing…to or from the said pier.” By 1885 the pier had been severely damaged by two fires and the LCDRC wrote to the Trust with their intention to replace the pier on a larger scale. A revised license was issued on 30 July 1885 extending the area occupied by LCDRC and requiring an additional payment of £500 to the Trust. A further licence in 1886 doubled the size of the land leased by LCDRC.

On 28 April 1876 the land formerly leased to Madams and Company was passed to C B Warrington under a new 21-year lease, with the addition of an oyster pond adjoining Queenborough Hard.
On 15 January 1884 A Honrichs was granted a 21-year lease for a substantial part of QFT land for the purpose of oyster fishing. This lease was surrendered by 1889. Sadly, the Trust’s documents do not reveal the reasons, but such a short tenure suggests Honrichs was struggling to make it profitable.

The Borough of Queenborough was re-incorporated in 1886 by Royal Charter and a new Corporation was established. The changes generated tension with Queenborough Fishery Trust and in 1891 there was court action between the Trustees and the new Corporation as to who owned the Oyster Fishery. The Court found in the Trustees favour.

On 17 June 1901 Trustees granted a 21-year license to Sheppey Glue and Chemical Works Limited to lay and maintain pipes over the creek for the purpose of an electricity supply.

On 25 February 1907 the Trustees entered into their most substantial lease to date, requiring Charity Commission approval. They granted J E Castle a 99-year lease of 11 and a half acres to enable the construction of a pier or jetty wharves and to “dredge for the formation of berths and approach and other channels.” It was subject to an annual rent of £100. By 1920 the land had been fully sub-let to The Queenborough Wharf Company Limited. On 21 June 1930 the lease was surrendered and released to Settle Speakman and Company Limited.

In 1914 there is a two-year licence granted to I. Pullen to fish for oysters between Kingsferry and Ladies Hole Point.

Shortly after the outbreak of the first world war the railway was taken over by the Government. For naval reasons continental traffic from Queenborough pier was stopped at the end of August. From 29 October 1914 the pier was used by the Admiralty for a submarine depot and a warship was berthed alongside. This resulted in a significant loss of income for Trustees. Prior to the Admiralty’s requisition of the Pier, the Trust was receiving £365 per year from the Queenborough-Flushing Continental Mail Service. Voluminous and protracted correspondence ensued with the Admiralty claiming for loss of revenue, but no money was ever received. The subsequent loss of income for the Corporation meant local rates were increased by 44p.