Conwy Mussel Centre

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Conwy Mussel Centre, Conwy quay

Mussels have been fished from the Conwy estuary for thousands of years. The Romans noted them for the quality of the pearls found inside some of the shells. In the early 19th century, Conwy mussels were still producing significant quantities of pearls (the meat inside was mostly fed to livestock). Most of the pearls were dispatched to jewellers in London. Legend has it that one Conwy pearl was incorporated into the Crown Jewels.

Over-fishing and quotas put paid to Conwy’s established trawler fleet in the 1980s, but the mussel fishery continues to thrive. Conwy mussels have been fished by members of the same few families for many generations.

Today mussels are harvested for food rather than pearls. The mussels come out of the water with impurities. They’re left in tanks of clean water at the mussel centre for a couple of days for the impurities to disappear. The centre functions as a mussel museum during the summer, when the mussels are not harvested.

In the early 20th century, food poisoning from shellfish became a significant public health issue, and at one time Conwy’s mussel beds were closed for safety. The government set up a research centre at Castle Bank, Conwy, where a method of purifying mussels was developed. It was adopted on a commercial scale, enabling consumers to eat mussels with confidence. For more information on this, see the Castle Bank HiPoint.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL32 8BB

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