English-Speaking Union 1066 (Hastings) Branch

AT our meeting in April Mick Barrow gave a talk on The Fishing Heritage of Hastings.

He told us first of his own life, going straight onto the boats from school, and working out of Lowestoft, Grimsby, and Aberdeen where fishing methods are quite different.

After a spell in the West Country he came back to Hastings where he married and worked until retirement.

He spoke of Government and EU interference with the fishing industry, trying to stop over-fishing and protect the fish stocks. However well-intentioned this may be, it makes fishing a precarious industry. Meaningless quotas, periods of non-working, and the obscenity of ‘throw-back’ are imposed. Also, the French were inclined to disregard the rules, to our disadvantage.

In Hastings the fleet is declining fast. Mick remembers, as a boy, seeing some 40 boats on the beach, and there used to be boats right along the shore.

Now we are down to 20 or so. The sons of the present fishermen (often second or third generation Hastings boat-people) are not taking over.

The Fishermen’s Museum, the second most-visited attraction in East Sussex after Hever Castle, tells the story of fishing here. Also Stade Walks are

organised, specially aimed at children.

Mick is one of the leaders. He used to be able to take visitors onto selected boats but safety rules now preclude this. However he finds that children are most interested to see the boats landing in the mornings, and to see the different fish being off-loaded. Many of them have never actually seen fresh-caught fish.

Fairlight Lodge Hotel provided a splendid lunch. For details of our next meeting, contact Michael Plumbe on 713737 or M.Plumbe@BTInternet.com.