|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
The Stade is a shingle beach, situated in Hastings Old Town. It has been used for beaching boats for over a thousand years, a use which continues to this day: it is now home to Europe's largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats.
The word ‘Stade’ is an old Saxon term meaning "landing place", and dates from before the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
It was originally a small landing area, hence the small footprint of the net shops. However, the building of the 1887 groyne at Rock-A-Nore and the 1896 harbour stopped the eastward longshore transport of shingle along the coast, which is the function of groynes. As a result, the Stade steadily grew out to seaward, providing new room for the fishing fleet and many amenities.
Present day fishing
On the Stade is today's Europe's biggest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats. The boats have to be hauled out of the sea after each trip, which stops them being more than about ten metres long. This means that they can only carry small amounts of gear and travel just a few miles. As a result the fleet has always fished in an ecologically sound way.
The Stade has today a vibrant working community that enjoys great traditions for many generations. It also represent the perfect combination of a historically protected area being ecologically utilized by a contemporary working force. In fact, there are not many places in the world today such as the Stade, where one can find a driving community working in a protected area of great historical relevance, one that still keeps its original look, its old traditions, standards and original atmosphere.
A famous and unique part of the old town are the Net Shops. These 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 are tarred (hence the colour) and weatherboarded.
The sheds were originally built on posts to allow the sea to go underneath, however more shingle has built up and the sea does not reach the huts anymore. 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.
A common misconception is that the sheds were used for drying the nets, hence the height. This is incorrect: nets were dried on the beach, and the sheds were built for net storage – the height is due to the limited space, and inside the sheds have always had multiple floors.
- Fishermen's Museum
- Old Town Hall Museum
- Fishermen's Protection Society
- Hastings Museums & Arts
- Nautical Heritage Association
- Royal National Lifeboat Institution
- Hastings Lifeboat
- BBC Southern Counties Page