site unseen The Fishermen's Net Shops, Old Hastings

Share
Related Topics
It sounds like a particularly bizarre question from Trivial Pursuit: what is the connection between American skyscrapers and the beach at Hastings, England? Most people scratch their heads irritably and deny that such a link could ever have existed.

The best way to discover the answer is to travel to Hastings in Sussex and perch high up inside the West Hill Lift Cafe. England has few sights more fair than the prospect of Old Hastings spread out down below. Behind you are the remains of the Norman castle, the first built following the invasion of 1066. Below are the smugglers' caves.

In front is Old Hastings, sandwiched neatly in a valley between West Hill and East Hill. The jumble of buildings come from each and every century, whether it be the two old medieval parish churches, the pubs or the timber- framed houses which are warrened by narrow twittens or passages. My favourite is the yellow, ledge-shaped building rightly dubbed "The Piece of Cheese" which started life as a Victorian workshop.

Out towards sea, the observant will spot that Hastings lacks a harbour. In 1896 - at great cost - work was begun on just such a project, but the elements proved much too strong. Only one forlorn wall was ever completed.

This failure meant that the 40-strong fishing fleet is still hauled up onto the shingle beach each day, giving the sea-front a compelling mix of the picturesque and the practical. The story of the Hastings fleet is told nearby in the old mission chapel of 1854, now the Fishermen's Museum, on the delightfully named Rock-a-Nore (Rock to the North Road).

Close by is a grouping of black wooden sheds, tall and mysterious. Naturally the fishermen needed somewhere to store their ropes and nets, but with space at a premium, these shops or sheds were restricted to plots of 8ft- square. If you can't expand outwards then the only alternative is to go upwards, and gradually these shops, some of which date back to the 1830s, edged up. The tallest of these "skyscrapers" reach 26ft high.

Where the Hastings fishermen first went, modern architects have merely followed. At their peak, more than 100 shops were arranged neatly in rows. Today, 43 of these unique structures still survive.

Inspecting the shops does, however, require a certain amount of bravery because of the huge and vociferous sea-gulls which mount a vigilant guard. Undoubtedly the biggest and most muscular gulls to be found in Britain - larger than the average cat - these "birds with attitude" eye passers- by menacingly, as if debating whether they would make a tasty snack or not.

So there's another question for Trivial Pursuit: Alfred Hitchcock got the idea for his film The Birds from which English fishing village?

The Fishermen's Net Shops are beside Rock-a-Nore Road, Old Hastings, East Sussex

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones