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View of Hastings Old Town from the East Hill

Hastings Old Town is an area in Hastingsmarker roughly corresponding to the extent of the town prior to the nineteenth century. It lies mainly within the eastern-most valley of the current town. The shingle beach known as The Stade (the old Saxon term meaning "landing place") is home to the biggest beach-launched fishing fleet in Britain.Many events take place every year in the old town such as the Hastings Old Town Week, Jack In The Green, the Seafood and Wine Festival, and the Bonfire Procession. Many of these events are centred on Winkle Island.

View of the Stade and the Net Shops

The Net Shops are tall black wooden sheds which were built to provide a weather-proof store for the fishing gear made from natural materials to prevent them from rotting in wet weather. The sheds were originally built on posts to allow the sea to go underneath, however more shingle has built up and the sea no longer reaches the huts. The beach area on which the Sheds stand built up after groynes were erected in 1834, however the limited space meant the sheds had to grow upwards, even though some sheds do have cellars.

Local historian and author Steve Peak says about the net shops:
The old town’s Net Shops - approximately 50 black wooden sheds standing in neat rows on a shingle beach are unique. They were built to provide weather-proof stores for fishing gear made of natural materials which rotted if wet for a long time. Today’s materials are artificial and can be left in the open. Most net shops stand on a piece of beach that appeared suddenly after the first of the town’s groynes were erected in 1834. The new beach area was small and close to the sea, so each shop could only have about eight or nine feet square to build on. But all boats had more nets than could be stored in such limited space, so the sheds had to grow upwards. Some have cellars. Many originally stood on posts to let the sea go underneath. Fishermen keep spare gear in the shops. One is a museum.


Hastings lifeboat being towed back to beach by its tractor after a public demonstration run during Old Town Week, 2005
Hastings RNLI lifeboat station, based in the Old Town, was established in 1858, it currently operates a Mersey class offshore lifeboat, as well as a D class inshore rescue boat. The offshore boat is launched from a carriage which is driven into the sea, and the boat is towed back up the beach on its return, by a caterpillar-tracked tractor, waterproofed so that it can operate almost completely submerged.


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