Fishy tales of days gone by in new book are set to reel in readers

Jimmy Adams remembers the dangers of fishing during the Second World War
Jimmy Adams remembers the dangers of fishing during the Second World War

A WINDOW into a bygone age and the lives of those who know The Stade best is given in a new book compiled by the Fishermen’s Museum.

Voices from the Hastings Stade, to be published later this month, is a collection of the oral histories of 15 individuals connected to the fishing industry which has been three years in the making.

Hastings fishermen

Hastings fishermen

Funded by the Stade Education Project, and part of the Hastings Fishermen’s Museum’s Oral History Project, the aim of the book is to provide an insight into an industry, which is intrinsically linked to the town, and to capture the memories of those who have been involved over many decades.

Those whose stories feature in the book include Doug White, probably the UK’s oldest fisherman, who still goes out to sea despite being well into his 80s, and Jimmy “Toller” Adams, whose family has been fishing in Hastings for hundreds of years.

Now aged 80, Mr Adams retired from fishing in the 1980s, but is still part of the fishing community, and has seen big changes since he first became a fisherman aged 14.

He remembers the everyday dangers of fishing during the Second World War, of mines and falling shrapnel from artillery on the East Hill. “Lots of fishermen got killed during the war, we never knew what could happen,” he said.

Mr Adams remembers a time when the industry was thriving, but attributes the decline to rising diesel costs and EU regulations.

He said: “Now of every £1,500 earned, around £800 goes on expenses.

“There’s not many young people taking it up, as you can earn more ashore.

“Maybe in 20, 40, or 50 years, there will still be fishermen in Hastings, but not as many.”

Mr Adams was keen to tell his story so that the younger generations would have a better knowledge of the fishing industry.

Museum assistant Nona Jackson, who transcribed some of the recorded interviews, said: “I always knew how difficult the life was, but with some of the older fishermen, and some of the tales they told, it was an eye-opener.”

She added that as well as the hardships that came across, what also stood out, were the good times.

The book will be on sale from a range of locations, including at the Fishermen’s Museum, in Rock-a-Nore, and Waterstones, in Priory Meadow, by the end of this month.