One of the most famous names in Cornish fishing is W. Stevenson and Sons of Newlyn. The Stevensons have been fishing out of Newlyn for over 100 years.

Throughout his life, William “Billy” Stevenson has collected photographs of old Newlyn, and is a keen photographer himself. Photos from the older 19th century and early 20th century are well published – an era considered to be picturesque and contemporary to the Newlyn art movement. Less well represented in the history books are the 1960s-1980s – considerably less ‘romantic’ – and this is where Billy’s love of photography comes in.

Billy, now in his 80s, showed us some of his collection taken in colour by himself during the 1970s and 1980s. They show life as it really was, a genuine snapshot covering every aspect of the realities and changes to fishing during this time.

There are photos of the different boats fishing out of, or visiting, Newlyn. Photos on board – sorting, fixing, cooking in the galley.  Fishing gear, markets, boat repairs, lorries and logistics, tragic accidents, and even a trip to the Netherlands to collect a boat. Captured in these photos is a real sense of what it was like to work in fishing, and the people and faces behind it all.

Poignant photographs of the Solomon Browne lifeboat out at practice, followed by a single photo of part of the wrecked boat in 1981, reminds us of the dangers of working at sea and those who come to their aid in times of difficulty. All eight lifeboatmen lost their lives in this tragedy.

Billy has contributed two of his colour albums to our MMO and FLAG-funded MemoryFish project which aims to show the realities of fishing in Cornwall out of the ports of Falmouth, Newquay and Newlyn, and preserve those memories for future generations.

The William S. Stevenson Collection contains 779 photographs taken in the mid-late 1970s and early 1980s. They will be available online soon (we will update this page when they are). In the meantime have a look at the gallery below to get a taste of what will be available.

MemoryFish is funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) to whom we are very grateful. We also wish to thank Billy Stevenson for kindly allowing us to digitise these photographs and reproduce them all on

The MemoryFish Project is funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), which receives investment from the European Fisheries Fund and the Marine Management Organisation.  The administration for the FLAG is managed by Cornwall Development Company.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) logo

European Fisheries Fund