The glory days of the firm came in late 19th century. At its peak, around 1865, there were more than 100 boats and around 80 million oysters were being sent for sale to Billingsgate each year. In Victorian times, oysters were a key part of the diet of the everyday family, especially in London. They were cheap and nutritious.However, the decades following this peak would not be kind to the oyster trade. Several severe winters, over-fishing, pollution and the arrival of introduced diseases with imported stock resulted in the demise of the industry. By the 1960s, the industry was in severe decline and, by the mid-seventies, there was just one remaining employee of the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company. This old dredgerman, Bill Warner, believed that when he was gone, so too would the company be. Fortunately, however, the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company did not itself sink beneath the waves.
In 1976, the company was acquired by Barrie Green and John Knight with the profits from an enterprise selling wallpaper and paint. It was not until 1986 that his sons Richard and James Green started the task of refurbishing the main building, opening a tea room and restaurant in 1988. This developed into the now well-known Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company fish restaurant. Accommodation was soon added, initially in the form of converted fisherman’s huts, and then with the purchase of the Hotel Continental which opened in 1997. Whitstable was attracting more and more visitors and the company’s reputation and business grew. After purchasing the East Quay premises from John Bayes of Seasalter Shellfish, the company turned towards oyster production again in 2001 and, in 2002, the company’s ship Misty headed out to their beds to dredge oysters for the first time in over 50 years.The company was back in the oyster business.