Tim and Fran James both have their roots in the West Coast of Scotland. Tim James was brought up at Skipness Estate, on the east side of Kintyre, where his family have lived since 1936.
Skipness point is a rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline overlooking the entrance to Loch Fyne on one side and the Kilbrannan Sound on the other with the undulations and peaks of Arran a few miles across the water.
It was here, in school holidays, that Tim would enjoy spending time working a few creels. (A “creel” is a wickerwork (now metal framed) cage used for laying down on the seabed to catch lobster, crab and langoustine, hence the name Creelers Restaurant. In 1983, following the birth of their son, Tim graduated to working on trawlers, latterly owning his own creel boat, the Margaret Eliza, named after their daughter.
Fran James was brought up on Loch Creran a little north of Oban. After their marriage, she and Tim moved to the estate at Skipness and whilst Tim fished as far afield as the Sound of Harris, Barra Head and other Hebridean islands, Fran brought up their two children in the idyllic surrounds of Kintyre. In 1987 Tim moved his fishing operations closer to home and started to fish out of Tarbert, Loch Fyne, the waters of Arran and the Kilbrannan sound.
In 1988 Fran opened the Skipness Seafood Cabin to provide delicious local seafood , home made scones and cakes for walkers in the area and visitors to the historic remains of Skipness Castle, one of the finest examples of medeival Scottish Castles (13th Century), near by. The now highly regarded Seafood Cabin was taken over by Tim’s sister Sophie, who still operates it from the end of May until the end of September.
In 1990 they opened Creelers Restaurant on the near by Isle of Arran at the old Home Farm steading to Brodick Castle, this was followed by the smokehouse, Arran Smoked Products, in 1992 to compliment the quality fresh produce available in the restaurant.
The Creelers Restaurant on Arran was followed by sister restaurants in Edinburgh in 1995 at Hunters Square, in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town and London in 2000 in Chelsea.
Now without their restaurants and having come full circle, they are concentrating back on the west coast, returning to Skipness where they have recently completed the conversion of the old estate workshop besides Skipness Castle, into a new purpose built smokehouse, Skipness Smokehouse.
Tim now fishes his current boat the “Julie-Anne” around the Isle of Arran, working closely with C.O.A.S.T ( Arran Community Sea Bed Trust) in and around the first marine conservation area in Scotland catching lobster ,crabs, langoustine and other local shellfish in a sustainable manner.