A Brief History
The Maldon Oyster Company was first established in 1960 and was originally run as a cooperative between several local fishermen, under the leadership of Clarrie Devall. During the hard winter of 1963, most oyster beds in Essex were devastated by ice and the company became dormant for a few years, until Mr Devall started growing new stocks of Pacific Oysters in Goldhanger Creek.
In the early eighties, Mr Devall took on David Coward-Talbott as a partner and they successfully grew several million Pacific Oysters on the traditional beds in Goldhanger Creek and established some small quantities of native flat oysters in the main Blackwater River.
After Mr Devall’s death in 2002, Mr Coward-Talbott formed the Maldon Oyster Company with Richard Emans the partnership was set up with the sole intention of revitalising oyster farming in the River Blackwater to its former glory, this work is now continuing following David’s retirement in 2008.
The Maldon Oyster Company now has a large area of the River Blackwater under their management and has re-established a native oyster fishery as well as being one of the largest producers of Pacific Oysters in the UK.
The company is investing heavily in new stocks of oysters. We now farm several million gigas oysters in the river together with our native oyster stocks and have established Maldon Oysters as a premium brand. We are now growing other shellfish such as mussels and clams and are moving forward with our production.
Our new modern purification and packing facility for bivalves, with a live holding system for crustaceans, has been built at Cock Clarks near Maldon. With this system we can hold oysters, mussels or even cockles in a temperature controlled environment to achieve the optimum purification for a minimum of 48 hours in summer and winter.
Our company has become the first shellfish producer in the UK to be allowed to use a new form of purification treatment with Ozone. Ozone is a naturally produced gas, made up of three oxygen molecules and by adding small amounts of it to the purification tank system, the shelf life and flavour is improved, while the threat of any virus being carried is drastically reduced.
One of our primary aims is to utilise this Essex estuary to its best advantage without harming the delicate eco-system and its salt marshes. For it is an area swathed in natural beauty, supports a wide variety of flora and fauna and plays an important role providing wintering grounds for many migratory birds.
The area is now enshrined as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is also protected and registered under the European Union’s Shellfish Waters Directive (79/923), whereby it has the distinction of being one of only a very few shell fish growing waters in the UK.
We are constantly looking at research into molluscs and crustaceans and work closely with the Shellfish Association of Great Britain to ensure the quality and safety of our products.