[ Photo Blog #62 ]
On the sea front on the eastern side of the East Sussex coastal town of Hastings, I recently discovered this fascinating area. It is called the Stade, a name dating back to the first millennium and meaning simply a landing place or area from which sea-going boats can be launched. Here, on the shingle beach, for over 1,000 years, boats have been used to fish the nearby waters of the English Channel. The building, in the latter part of the 19th Century, of groins along the western shore of the town restricted the movement of shingle towards the east, resulting in the area known as the Stade, which grew out towards the sea as a high bank of shingle. This eased the once difficult access of the fishing boats to the sea and created a large area from which boats could be beach-launched and later brought back to land with the use of winches and tractors. The Stade now provides safe harbour for Britain’s largest of all beach-launched fishing fleets.
I am told that, nowadays, because of European impositions of fishing quotas, the boats are only allowed to be launched on two days a week. As a consequence of such restrictions, many fishermen are finding it difficult to maintain a viable livelihood. Consequently many of the boats to be found here are used infrequently and they and the accompanying tractors , winches and metal hauling ropes and chains are rusting and in a less than pretty condition.
Although several attempts have been made to build harbours at Hastings for the boats, these have never been successful, so boats have always had to be pulled out of the sea up the sloped shingle bank. Because of this, their length has to be restricted, so they are able to carry only a small amount of tackle. This means that their range is also restricted. Every ship, therefore has its own dedicated engine, tractor or winch in order to get the boats into and out of the water, especially at low tide.
Another unique aspect of the Stade is the Net Sheds. These are on the landward side of the shingle bank, above the high tide line. They are very tall wooden weather-boarded structures, all of several storeys and tarred to their full height to protect them against the weather. They are used to store the fishing gear, including the nets.
Today I am including my photographs of the Net Sheds and the area surrounding these. Next Thursday I will showcase my photographs of the beach and the boats themselves.