Coracle's Lasting Appeal; Graham Keeps 4,000 Years of Boating Tradition Alive

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), February 8, 1998 | Go to article overview

Coracle's Lasting Appeal; Graham Keeps 4,000 Years of Boating Tradition Alive


IT'S been a tradition for more than 4,000 years but only ONE man is keeping it alive.

Graham Fisher is the last remaining coracle builder in the Midlands, making his own saucer-shaped boats just as craftsmen did in Roman times.

When he takes to the water he uses the same unique rowing motion as ancient Britons catching fish for their supper.

Now Graham, aged 43, has been asked to ensure the region's special link with these remarkable boats is never forgotten.

He is advising Bewdley Museum on creating a permanent coracle exhibition, featuring varieties such as the Shrewsbury, the Ironbridge and the Bewdley. Each type of coracle has a different design. But they are all one-person boats, roughly six feet across.

Graham, from Stourbridge, said: "Coracles are the earliest form of transport known to man.

"They were common throughout England - until the Romans invaded.

"Julius Caesar drove the ancient Britons out of their towns and villages. Most took refuge in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Severn Marshes.

"They carried on their traditional life-styles. So here in the Midlands, we continued to use coracles for transport and fishing until recently.

"People even caught rabbits in them. When the banks of the river Severn flooded, little islands would appear where the ground was higher.

"Animals took refuge here - and the hunters would float past and snatch them off."

Graham first became interested in the craft eight years ago when, as a keen boater, he stumbled across the Coracle Society.

He joined in order to find out more - and discovered he was one of the only members.

In fact, there were only four coracle builders in the UK. So Graham took up the mantle to become the fifth, and the only one in the Midlands. …

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