Open 364 days a year and free to enter, the Fishermen’s Museum at Rock-a-Nore is possibly one of the area’s most underrated and fascinating attractions.
It is a treasure trove of exhibits which show the history of the local fishing fleet and our relationship with the sea, having a full sized fishing lugger as its centre piece.
But the volunteer run museum, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this month, is in desperate need of financial support if it is to continue opening as it currently does.
“If everyone who came in donated just £1 we would be in a healthy position,” explained volunteer Jennie Bryson.
The museum is housed in the former Fishermen’s Church, built on the Stade in 1852, which fell out of use after the Second World War.
Hastings Fishermen’s Museum opened on May 17 1956.
Its striking centre-piece is The Enterprise - the last ever fishing lugger of its type built for sale. It was commissioned by Harold Pepper in 1912 and built by Tom Betts. It has the distinction of landing the largest recorded herring catch and was on stand-by for the Dunkirk evacuations during World War 2.
Sir Winston Churchill admired the boat during a visit in 1955 when it was displayed at Winkle Island.
Aside from the Enterprise, the museum has a fascinating variety of pictures and exhibits including old cannonballs and parts of World War 2 planes which have been dredged up in nets and the original outfit worn by the former Hastings Cockle King.
Also on show is the original tub in which Biddy the Tubman used to spin around in and entertain the crowds, with his antics, off Hastings beach.
In 2001 funding was raised to build an extension which provides visitors with extra exhibition space and an audio visual presentation.
The museum also features a beautiful stained glass window, unveiled for the Millennium, which depicts a local fisherman and the fleet.
Nona Jackson, from the museum, says they have between 130,000 - £150,000 visitors a year but donations made to the collecting box are not enough to cover the running costs.
To mark its anniversary, the museum is holding an exhibition, which features some never seen before material.
The museum is run by the Old Hastings Preservation Society and is open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day.
It is open: from April 1 to October 31 10am – 5pm and from November 1 to March 31 11 – 4pm. See more at: www.ohps.org.uk/hastings-fishermans-museum.
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