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Net and Tackle Stores on Beach Including Groups L to W (Consecutive)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Hastings, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8561 / 50°51'21"N

Longitude: 0.594 / 0°35'38"E

OS Eastings: 582671

OS Northings: 109488

OS Grid: TQ826094

Mapcode National: GBR QYP.70B

Mapcode Global: FRA D64T.THG

Plus Code: 9F22VH4V+CJ

Entry Name: Net and Tackle Stores on Beach Including Groups L to W (Consecutive)

Listing Date: 14 September 1976

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1192092

English Heritage Legacy ID: 294062

Location: Hastings, East Sussex, TN34

County: East Sussex

Electoral Ward/Division: Old Hastings

Built-Up Area: Hastings

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hastings St Clement and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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757/15/92 ROCK-A-NORE ROAD
14-SEP-76 (South side)

39 Net and Tackle Stores (Net Shops) probably originating from the C16 but repaired and rebuilt over the centuries. The current layout and configuration dates from the 1850s.

MATERIALS: All are wooden framed (the framing being of light scantling and incorporating diagonal bracing to give strength against the wind) and weatherboard clad, although the occasional net shop has vertical boarded sides. They are tarred for protection; some retaining an encrusted appearance, the results of numerous tar applications. A limited number stand on concrete bases rising to approximately 50cm, and a very few have concrete blockwork cellars dug into the shingle beach. The saddle-back roofs are mostly wood boarded, although occasionally clay tiled, with lead or clay ridge pieces.

PLAN: The net shops, in 12 rows on the beach, generally facing either east or west, are tall narrow structures, approximately 2.5m square on plan and of varying heights, but generally of two or three storeys.

EXTERIOR: All have wooden doors at each level which open outwards, many with stable doors at ground level, but single doors above, and some have small shuttered windows, immediately adjacent to the doors. Tackle hoists are mounted on the front elevation of a number of net shops to assist in lifting gear to the upper floors. All other elevations are generally blank.

INTERIOR: The internal framing of the structure was left exposed and in the main, is similar in construction to a generic storage shed. Headroom is generally limited on all floors and simple vertical ladders, nailed to the walls, lead to a small hatch access to subsequent levels.

HISTORY: The first reference to net shops on the beach at Hastings is the Charter of 1588 granting the lease of the beach for a farthing a foot. The net shops stretched from Marine Parade to All Saints' Street, and were shorter and more randomly placed, than the current net shops. The formal layout of double rows of net shops with a space in between dates from the 1830s, when the Council set new regulations, following the building of the east groyne (1834). As shingle accumulated on the west side of the groyne, the Council cleared and flattened the beach. In 1835, the Council secured net shop control by ruling that new shops needed permission, were to be placed on a site agreed with the Pier Warden and in accordance with a pre-determined plan. Shops were not to exceed 8 sq ft, and the annual ground rent was to be 2 shillings, rising to 5s in 1846. Due to fishing practices, boats carried as many as 100 nets each, the ruling that the net shops should not exceed 8 sq ft forced them to grow upwards. In 1844, the Council sub-committee responsible for the net shops was established on a permanent basis in order that 'a more systematic arrangement of the shops should be made'. By 1851, the layout of the net shops was as today. The net shops were not fixed to the ground, so that they could be moved if the Council, or the sea, required.

The tar waterproofing of the net shops made them combustible and fire has destroyed many over the years. The worst recorded fire was in 1846, when about 20 net shops were destroyed. The most recent fire of 1961 destroyed four shops and coincidentally, in the same year another two blew down in gales. The 1950s had seen a decline in the use of the net shops and in 1958 they were reported as being "un-tarred, and falling to pieces through neglect and they faced 'extinction' within ten years". A restoration programme commenced and a number of shops were rebuilt in the 1960s. This was followed in 1985, by a further restoration project.

Anon, Old Hastings Preservation Society, n.d. Hastings Net-Shops.
Collins, Dennis, 150 Years of the Fisherman's Church (1854-2004) (2004), 15.
Kay, Alan, Cinque Ports & The Two Ancient Towns (2002), 19
Paterson, Leslie, The Net Shops of Hastings, Country Life Vol. 156(25.7.1974), 253.
Peak, Steve, Fishermen of Hastings 200 Years of the Hastings Fishing Community (1985), 17-18.
Thornton, David, Hastings: A Living History (1987), 198-199.

The Net and Tackle Stores (Net Shops) on Road-a-Nore Road in Hastings are listed Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: they continue traditional building techniques, design and materials and each net shop individually reflects in its design, the specific function it was intended to fulfil;
* Historic significance: the net shops are invested with more than special historic interest as the physical evidence of the once thriving British fishing industry, from the C19 or before;
* Rarity: relatively few examples of these structures survive nationally and their small footprint, uniformity, three-storey nature, arrangement into rows; the large number that have survived, and the distinct circumstances that brought about these attributes, make the Hastings examples of more than special interest.
* Group Value: these net shops form a group with other listed net shops, including: 8-16 East Beach Street and Fishing Net and Tackle Store (immediately west of the Net Shop Jellied Eel Bar), Rock-a-Nore Road.

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