Meet Bram - Eighth Generation Oysterman.
Richard Haward’s Oysters is very much a family affair. Tom, one of his sons, is operations manager, Bram, his eldest son runs the dredging boat, and Caroline, his daughter, has taken over the reins at the renowned Company Shed from Richard’s wife, Heather. Mersea Island is famous for oysters and the place to go for amazing, fresh seafood. It’s one of the rare places left in England that can still boast of a ‘working waterfront’. Everyday, fishing boats and dredging boats go up the River Blackwater to provide the residents and visitors to the Island with the freshest produce.
Richard Haward’s Oysters is no exception. The Haward family have been cultivating oysters for over 300 years. It’s a growing business and now exports oysters over the globe to places such as Dubai, Taiwan and Brussels. There is also a retail unit at Borough Market, which has proven to be hugely popular. Each employee plays a vital role in the operation, from sea to land, they all have their place and it’s a business that cares about the product and each employee knows about the product themselves so they can understand the importance of treating with respect to make it the best.
This post is all about Bram, eighth generation oysterman and man of the sea. Bram is a walking encyclopaedia of dredging boats and oysters. It’s a real education going out on the dredger with him, seeing him at ease in his comfort zone and doing what he loves. His knowledge of what the tides and wind will be doing while out at sea, and how the conditions will affect the working of the boat, is something that years of working for the company has taught him. Bram has five children so they will be able to take over the reins one day as ninth generation! Growing up, all of the Haward children had to earn their pocket money by helping out with one of the businesses so they have all had a good work ethic instilled in them. Bram occasionally takes his youngest son out on the boat with him to show him what he does. The work that Bram has done in Brightlingsea has seen a huge surge in oysters there and he continues to work hard to encourage spat and healthy growth in the area, which is great for the Essex coast.
How long have you work for RHO?
I’ve worked here for 13 years now. I was asked if I would like to come back and work within the business.
What’s your role in the business?
I skipper our boat, ‘Jacqueline Anne’. I dredge for oysters with one other crew member for around 6 hours a day depending on the tides.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Able to work my own way on the boat and seeing my hard work I've done over the last 6 years in Brightlingsea starting to grow good oysters.
What are you most proud of?
Working a new area such as Brightlingsea which had not been worked for over 40 years and getting a oyster fishery back up and running again.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle in the fishing/ oyster industry?
Oysters are vulnerable to certain diseases that can kill them or stop young ones growing to maturity.
If you weren’t an oysterman, what would you be?
I would probably still be doing my old job which was a vehicle operative as I have an interest in cars.
How would you like to see the business grow?
Continuing to have a healthy stock of oysters.
You can find Bram on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bramhoward/ where he regularly shares pictures of his life out at s