Devon

Plaque for Teignmouth man who shaped Iceland's fishing

Pike Ward
Image caption Pike Ward arrived in Iceland 1891 and started trading with fishermen which led to the industry expanding.

A businessman from Devon who some say helped shape Iceland's fishing industry has been honoured with a plaque.

The plaque for Pike Ward, calling him "Much loved by the people of Iceland", was unveiled in his home town of Teignmouth.

Mr Ward arrived in Iceland 1891 and started trading with fishermen, which led to the industry expanding.

He was given the country's highest honour and his life is being marked with a special exhibition in Iceland.

Image caption The plaque unveiled by Iceland's ambassador to the UK

The plaque was unveiled by Stefan Johannesson, Iceland's ambassador to the UK, in Old Maids Walk in the town.

Biographer Katherine Findlay said: "When he arrived in Iceland life was incredibly hard for most people.

"The country was hundreds of years behind the rest of Europe. So he taught people how to prepare fish for the British market and he paid them for it fairly and in cash.

"It's hard to overstate how transformative that was.

"It meant fishermen could buy products at better prices, set up their own co-operatives and start to invest in bigger boats and modern equipment.

"And that was the seed that led to the trawler industry that is the basis of the Icelandic economy and the modern flourishing Iceland that we know today."

Image caption Pike Ward was awarded Iceland's highest honour for a civilian

Ward retired to Devon just before World War One and died in 1937.

In retirement, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Icelandic Falcon, the highest honour that the country can give to anyone other than a head of state.

An exhibition in honour of Ward is being held at the National Museum in Iceland's capital Reykjavik from 19 September to 20 January.

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