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