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The Unimaginable In Pursuit Of The Unthinkable

Updated: Apr 27, 2019


The Thrupiece classic guide, now in its 12th impression has brought people to the sport in their dozens.  In addition to offering a lively history of the sport from Roman times, it is packed with tips on equipment, purchase, technique and post-hunt cleaning methods.
The Thrupiece classic guide, now in its 12th impression has brought people to the sport in their dozens. In addition to offering a lively history of the sport from Roman times, it is packed with tips on equipment purchase, technique and post-hunt industrial cleansing methods.

Anyone still unfamiliar with the world of Locustam Marinam Venandi Dorsetii or Dorset lobster hunting [surely Professor Thrupiece's 1966 classic "Dorset Lobster Hunting: An Enthusiast's Guide" [Threadbone Press] should have put paid to that!] - will doubtless be astonished at the sight of grown men (and occasionally women) armed to the teeth with catapults, pea-shooters and butterfly nets chasing through the salt-marches of Lyme Regis in search of a slow-moving, large-clawed crustacean, the only instinct of which is to avoid its pursuers and/or to "nip them in the buds". Yet such is the popularity of the sport in Dorset - as well as in places overseas where Dorset men have settled [eg Massachusetts] - that it now generates an annual turnover of more than £750 in Weymouth alone. Ancillary services and supplies to the sport account for up to 0.0005% of Dorset GDP, whilst tariffs on extra-strength claw bands (which are actually made in Somerset) remain one of the most intractable issues dogging current Drexit negotiations. As the saying goes, "one man's lobster is another man's large-clawed crustacean" and in this, as in so many other things, the ancients rarely got it wrong.


Threadbone Lobster: the one-stop solution.  Hunt, catch, boil and eat.  There is even a rest room for those who want to see the whole process through.
Threadbone Lobster: the one-stop solution. Hunt, catch, boil and eat. There is even a rest room for those who want to see the whole process through.

The lobster hunting season begins, ceremonially, on the Ignominious Tenth [April 10th] and ends on September 15th at the start of gnat trapping. Surrounded by ritual and with a vocabulary all its own ["Stancheon they semeles bjornpoke" [open the pots young man], "Escantoomen 'em prykes" [unsheath the pea-shooters] and "Charkate tho' weatherspongs" [sound the ceremonial reeds]] are by no means the most far-fetched], Dorset lobster hunting is the slowest growing sport in the world*, the most un-professionalised and the one consistently voted least likely to feature on either Countryfile, The One Show or Songs of Praise.


*Dorset Casino are offering odds of 500,000:1 on its becoming the next Olympic sport.

Briefly Master of the Dorset Lobster Hunt, [1965-1967] Professor Thrupiece not only wrote the popular book referred to above, but chaired the Committee which set down what are now regarded as the definitive rules of the sport - the so called "Little Blue/Grey Turning Red In Boiling Water Book" - without which no Dorset lobster hunter would dream of competing and to which all refer in matters of dispute [eg who has first dibs when a lobster has "gone to water"]. An accomplished hunter as well as a consistent de-mythologiser and populariser, Professor Thrupiece once landed a record-breaking 28 pounder after a single-handed all night pursuit aided only by an all-terrain quad-bike, heavy duty gloves and a pneumatic drill. Though the catch was not accomplished according to the strict rules which he himself had helped devise [catapults, pea-shooters and butterfly nets only], the record was allowed to stand thanks to an intervention by Dorset Lobster Hunt Commission President Mrs Amanda J Threadbone who ruled it "kosher" on the grounds no non-crustacean was harmed during the episode.


This week members of the Dorset-based TOAST organisation are visiting New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts on an anniversary tour celebrating Professor Thrupiece's visit to the Metropolitan Opera in 1969 and are taking the opportunity to enjoy some down-time by joining the Newbury Port lobster hunt in a symbolic celebration designed to strengthen ties between lobster enthusiasts on either side of the Atlantic. "We are confident that our visit will achieve its purpose", Mrs Marjorie-Billington-Marjorie said, "provided everyone keeps their trousers on".

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