Scallop Festival


In 1975 there was a great shortage of fish during the early months in the inshore waters that the Rye Fishing Fleet harvested. The situation for fisherman became quite desperate as the over 20 boat strong fleet netted fewer and fewer fish.

Local man, Skipper Robert Hollands who fished out of Rye in the Agnes with Charlie Gill crewing for him, decided that they must start looking outside the traditional fish catch that was landed at Rye in the early months of the year and find a new species to harvest. Robert had often trawled up a few Scallops in his nets at certain places in the Bay and thought there might just be enough on these beds to earn a profit.

He developed a Scallop Rake with fixed hinge and carried it on a hand cart to the Fishmarket where he was greeted by many knowing smiles and a few doubting comments.

When the Agnes returned the smiles turned to looks of amazement – The ‘Aggie’ had landed 60 dozen of the sought after shell fish. The prices were good and within a year and with the introduction of a sprung loaded hing on a government developed rake five more boats from the Rye Fleet were out Scalloping like mad. The good times had returned. Robert fished Scallops exclusively from Christmas to May every year.

Since then the quality of the Scallops raked out of Rye Bay have become renowned throughout the world The late Charlie Hollands, Robert’s uncle, crewed for Robert in the early days on Robert’s first boat ‘The Violet. Charlie’s father Joe was killed by German machine gun bullets while fishing off Rye in the Second World War. Charlie had more grief to bear when, in 1958 when fishing with his brother Edwin, their boat was run down and cut in by a freighter. Charlie survived but Edwin drowned before help arrived.

Robert built his own Fishing Boat in 1978. The High Society was made of concrete and fished successfully for many years. Robert’s sons Robbie and Glen became crew members when they were old enough.

                     Scallop Quiz Nights

Q: What has 100 eyes, a hinge, a muscle and can swim? These are just some of the fascinating facts you will need at your fingertips when you sign up for one of the fun quiz nights during the Rye Bay Scallop Week.

Kick off the week at the Scallop Quiz Night at The New Inn, Winchelsea, on Tuesday 5th February at 8.30pm. You could follow up the next night by attending the Scallop Quizine at The Ship Winchelsea Beach on Wednesday 6th at 8pm. There will be a special supper and a generally “fishy” theme to the evening so swat up on your facts!

By now you will have all scallop information off pat so the Bonfire Boys Scallop Quiz at The Brewery Yard Club on Thursday 7th of February will be no trouble at all and you can tuck in to nibbles and support the raffle. This starts at 7.30pm.

Last, but by no means least, will be the Scallop Quiz Night at The Standard Inn on Sunday 10th February at 7.30pm. This will be a fun general knowledge quiz costing just £1 per person entry. The quiz will include a Rye Bay Scallop round and the winner takes all!

Tours and Talks

Joining a Tour of the Ancient Port would be the perfect way to swat up on all the local facts you might need for the quiz nights. Registered tourist guide Jane Fraser Hay (member of the Institute of Tourist Guiding) is to conduct a tour of the Ancient Port of Rye. Join Jane for an interesting insight into a thousand years of Rye’s maritime history. Admission to the guided tour is just £3 per person but make sure you book in advance as Jane’s tours are very popular. The tour will take place on Sunday 3rd February at 10am.

On Tuesday 5th Feb, from 2pm till 4pm there will be a fascinating Afternoon Talk at The Stormont Rooms titled ‘Absinthe – The Green Fairy’, when Andrew Ashton will be giving a talk about Absinthe, the ‘Green Fairy’, and the artists who believed its hallucinogenic effects helped provide inspiration. Andrew will also be exploring any links that exist between absinthe and scallops.

For full details of all the events and how to book go to

                 It’s Shucking Time Again!

Just one of the many exciting events taking place through the Rye Bay Scallop Week is Russell Drew’s Talk and Taste at Market Fisheries. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to ‘shuck’ or ‘cut’ a scallop or removing it from the shell. Russell appeared on the Hairy Bikers Sussex cookery programme demonstrating the cutting art and is very knowledgeable on all things fishy. Russell says, ‘This will be an educational session so that people can learn and ask questions about fishing in the bay, harvesting the scallops, the sustainability of local fish and I’ll also be teaching some filleting techniques’.

Russell’s Talk and Taste sessions will take place on Saturday 2nd and 9th February from 10am till 12 noon.

Also on Saturday 9th February there will be special Cooking Demos from 12 noon at The Mermaid Inn and from 12 noon to 2pm at Market Fisheries care of The Beach Bistro.

‘Scallops don’t get much fresher than this, literally hours from being plucked from the sea in front of us, eating them this fresh is a revelation, and I can’t wait to demonstrate a few really easy dishes for people to try at home.’ Says Trevor Hambley, Chef at The Beach Bistro at the Gallivant Hotel.

Trevor will be delivering a scallop-themed cookery school right in the heart of the fishing port. Trevor has been working in partnership with Russell since he came to the Gallivant two years ago. His ‘boat-to-plate’ cookery school takes groups of people to Market Fisheries to see how they land the fish and to meet Russell and his team.

Both Sunday the 3rd and 10th will see another unusual themed demonstration. Scallops and Sabrage at The Rye Lodge. That’s the art of decapitating a bottle of champagne followed enjoying a glass of bubbly and a dish of scallops served with a champagne cream sauce.

                Rye Bay Scallop Facts

The scallop is not, strangely, considered an aphrodisiac in the same way as an oyster. But, having said that, Sandro Botticelli’s famous painting of Venus rising from a scallop shell is a perfect example of the symbol being used in fertility imagery. It is, like the oyster, an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12 and is very tasty.

Scallops prefer clean, deepish, full salinity water and do very well in the slightly warmer waters of the south and west coasts of England and Wales. They are fully mature at around three years old and it is possible to tell their age by the stripes or bands on their shells. One band for each year.

Most spawning occurs from April to September and most growth occurs between April and June.

                        More Scallop Facts

•“The cheapest sea-towne for provision of fish for our house.” King Charles 1, 1628 speaking of Rye
•Did you know that Rye’s fishing fleet moors almost two miles from the sea?
•There are more than 300 species of scallop in the world!
•You can tell the age of a scallop by its shell, one ring forms each year
•Scallops can be traced back 300 million years in fossil form
•The scallop is a mollusc and the only bivalve that canswim
•The scallop is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12
•The orange roe in a scallop is called coral
•Scallops are delicious!
See the website for full details of the above and the many other special events that will be running through the scallop week.


•Children’s Activities @ Rye Castle Museum
Saturday 26th January 2013, 2pm – 4pm
•Brede Farmers’ Market
Friday 1st and Friday 8th February 2013, 10am – 12pm
•Rye, Scallops and the Lash @ The Ship Inn
Friday 1st February 2013, 7pm
•Talk and Taste @ Market Fisheries
Saturday 2nd and Saturday 9th February 2012, 10am – 12pm
•Rye Arts and Crafts Fair
Saturday 2nd February 2013, 11am – 5pm
•Scallop Demo and Luncheon at Webbe’s
Saturday 2nd and Saturday 9th February 2013, 11:30am – 3pm
•Scallops on Stage @ The Ship Inn
Saturday 2nd and Saturday 9th February 2013, from 6:30pm

•Roger and Richard @ The Queen’s Head
Saturday 2nd February 2013, 8:30pm
•Tour of the Ancient Port
Sunday 3rd February 2013, 10am
•Scallops and Sabrage @ The Rye Lodge
Sunday 3rd and 10th February 2013, Midday
•The Mercurials @ The Ypres Castle Inn
Sunday 3rd February 2013, 7pm – 9pm
•Scallop Bingo @ The Standard Inn
Sunday 3rd February 2013, 7:30pm
•Webbe’s Scallop School
Monday 4th, Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th
February 2013, 9:15am – 3:30pm
•Afternoon Talk @ Stormont Rooms
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 2pm – 4pm
•Scallop & Wine Indulgence Evening @ The George
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 7:30pm
•Scallop Quiz Night @ The New Inn
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 8:30pm
•Rye Farmers’ Market
Wednesday 6th February 2013, 10am – 12pm
•Fisherman’s Scallop Taster @ Rye Farmers’ Market
Wednesday 6th February 2013, 10am – 12pm
•Tony Page @ The George
Wednesday 6th February 2013, 6pm
•Scallops of the World Unite @ The Ship Inn
Wednesday 6th February 2013, 7pm
•Scallop Quizine @ The Ship Winchelsea Beach
Wednesday 6th February 2013, 8pm sharp!
•Nick Kelly @ The Standard Inn
Thursday 7th February 2013, 7:30pm – 10:30pm
•Bonfire Boys Scallop Quiz @ Brewery Yard Club
Thursday 7th February 2013, 7:30pm
•Modern Day Music Hall with the Rye Wurlitzer
Friday 8th February 2013, 7:30pm
•Sam Wills @ White Dog Inn
Friday 8th February 2013, 8pm
•1066 Rockitmen @ The Ypres Castle Inn
Friday 8th February 2013, 9:30pm
•Cooking Demo @ The Mermaid Inn
Saturday 9th February 2013, Midday
•Cooking Demo @ Market Fisheries
Saturday 9th February 2013, 12pm – 2pm
•The Mercurials @ The Queen’s Head
Saturday 9th February 2013, 8:30pm
•What a Load of Scallops
Sunday 10th February 2013, 10am
•Chinese New Scallop @ The Standard Inn
Sunday 10th February 2013, 6:30pm
•Nightshift Trio @ The Ypres Castle Inn
Sunday 10th February 2013, 7pm – 9pm
•Scallop Quiz Night @ The Standard Inn
Sunday 10th February 2013, 7:30pm

               101 Things to do with a Scallop

The Rye Bay Scallop is a versatile shellfish and is incredibly easy and quick to cook. Local restaurants are busy preparing a terrific range of scallop dishes in readiness for the Rye Bay Scallop Week and some of the chefs have been kind enough to share some of their most popular recipes.

Trevor Hambley of The Beach Bistro at The Gallivant Hotel, Camber Sands describes his Citrus Crusted Rye Bay Scallops with Trout Tartar and Oyster Jelly. He says, “This quite a complicated dish but can be broken down into manageable sections to do in the morning and day before, re-read the recipe several times and keep calm and carry on”.

If you prefer a simpler dish then take a look at the recipes provided by Rye’s professional fishermen Ronnie Simmons and Brian Stent, who love to eat scallops.

The recipe for a classic Seared Scallops with Caramelised Apple, Black Pudding and Cider Sauce has been submitted by Paul Webbe of Webbe’s at The Fish Café. Paul advises, “Try to keep the scallops slightly under-cooked to retain their moisture, they taste fantastic raw so when cooking you only want to enhance the flavour. Scallops and black pudding are one of those combinations that work well with the sweetness of the cider sauce bringing the ingredients together.”

Scallops with Linguine featuring local scallops, lemon and pasta is described in mouth-watering detail by the Tuscan Kitchen and Gabby, the head chef at The George in Rye has posted a very helpful video clip showing how to make Pan Fried Scallops, Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry Reduction.

The Curlew at Bodiam has kindly sent in its tasty recipe for Rye Bay Scallop, Crispy Pork Belly, Apple and Ginger.

Look out for “Scallop Top”, a cream stout brewed specially for Rye Bay Scallop Week by the Old Dairy Brewery.

Pan-fried scallops shout out for a beer with a bit of attitude, particularly one that’s darker in colour. As part of this year’s Scallop Week, the Old Dairy Brewery has created a dry stout, similar to its Silver Top, just less sweet.

A good body, hints of liquorice and molasses are balanced with a plain chocolate bitterness and notes of roast coffee, which give Scallop Top a wealth of flavours to create a remarkable match to this esteemed shell fish.

Finally, Danny Delenio of Olde Worlde Wines has a few tips for wine pairing. He says, “Why not celebrate this sumptuous culinary delight with an equally luxurious local sparkling wine … such as the award winning Henners 2009 Vintage … It has an elegance of flavour that beautifully accompanies the delicate, juicy meatiness of the scallop. In addition, its underlying crisp, zesty notes compliment the scallop’s quietly sweet flavour and corresponds with any buttery or creamy sauce, cleansing the palette ready for the next delectable bite!“

Raise a toast to the Rye bay scallop with a glass of Sussex sparkling wine or a pint of Scallop Top cream stout.

For tips, full recipes, and event details visit

“Rye’s Own” February 2013

All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.