A potted history

Brighton was once the most important fishing town in Sussex. Four out of five men were fishermen. Brighton’s fleet fished as far away as Yarmouth and Scarborough. Throughout the 1600s, its cargo boats carried coal from Newcastle to London.

Fishing families lived under the cliffs
Fishing families lived under the cliffs on Brighton’s seafront. There were two streets, which stretched half a mile from the Steine to Hove. This land was gradually eroded. In 1705, a ferocious storm buried the houses in pebbles fifteen feet deep.

Banned from drying nets in the Steine
As Brighton became fashionable, fishing suffered. Regency aristocrats banned the fishermen from drying nets on the Steine. Victorian day-trippers drove up prices on the seafront. The railway brought fish from the North Sea that was cheaper than the local catch. In the 1960s, Brighton Corporation banned the fishmarket on the beach, moving it inland.

Today, fishermen can again sell seafood on the beach, opposite the fishing museum by Brighton Pier.

Text reproduced by kind permission from information sheets in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Comments about this page

  • In the early sixties the Fish Market between the two piers was a haven for musicians on a Sunday. We would spend all day listening to the music. People would throw pennies down to the musicians. I sold ice creams along the beach on Sundays for pocket money and got to know a lot of these lovely people. We were called beatniks then, and I am still a bit of a hippy at 63.

    By Mick Peirson (19/11/2006)

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