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Hogboats and customs

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) HOGBOATS and CUSTOMS: Brighton fishermen used their own type of vessel known as a ‘hogboat’ or ‘hoggie’ which was especially suited to the particular local conditions; they had a very wide beam making them stable in rough seas and were easily hauled onto the shingle beaches. Some were even cut in half and used as homes on the beach by the poorest fishermen. The last one was burnt on a Bonfire Night in the late 1880s, but an excellent model of a Brighton hoggie may be found in the town’s museum. {18,31,296a}
There were also a number of traditions and customs practised by the fishing community. At the beginning of the mackerel season in the spring parties would be held on the beach and the nets and boats would be blessed by a clergyman, a custom known as ‘bending in’ (short for benediction); this practice has been revived at the beginning of the Brighton Festival. On Good Friday fishermen and their families could be seen skipping with ropes at the Fish Market and on the Level until the 1920s, a custom also performed in some villages. At the fish market, the catch was, unusually, sold by Dutch auction (see below). Two arches on the Lower Esplanade by the Grand Hotel steps were decorated with scenes depicting Brighton’s fishing heritage for the 1984 Brighton Festival. {123,296a}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Hog-boats and Bathing Machines on Brighton Beach, 1880: As the trend for sea-bathing developed and the fishing industry declined, fishermen often found that running a fleet of bathing machines or pleasure boats could be a useful source of income. In this photograph, Bathing-machines and hogboats are sharing the beach, while fishing nets hang to dry from wooden fences on King's Road. Hogboats, or "hoggies", were unique to Brighton and especially suited to local conditions. They had a wide beam which made them stable in rough seas and they could be easily hauled up the rough shingle beaches. The last one was burnt on Bonfire Night in the late 1880s.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

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