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The fish market

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.

e) The FISH MARKET: Brighton’s fish market was, from time immemorial, situated on the beach below the low cliffs near the end of East Street , a site now built over by the Grand Junction Road. The catch was sold by Dutch auction, possibly due to the influence of Flemish immigration in the thirteenth century, and the sale stopped at the cry of ‘Has ’em!’. When the King’s Road Arches were formed in the 1880s, nos.216-224 (below the Hospitality Inn) were set aside for the use of the fish market with a hard provided in front for stalls. The colourful and lively scene attracted many visitors who watched the proceedings from the promenade above. Although the fisheries diminished in importance at Brighton, the market continued for the wholesale of ‘imported’ fish until it was closed by the council on hygiene grounds in 1960. The fish market was then removed to a £10,000 extension at Circus Street which was officially opened by the Duke of Norfolk in January 1960, but the traders have always sought to return to their traditional site. The arches have since been used for other attractions such as Railwayland, and are now occupied by the National Museum of Penny Slot Machines and an amusement arcade, but the Fish Market Hard continues to be used as a traditional venue for political meetings and public speaking. {1,14,15,24,123}

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.

Brighton Fish Market, 1899: For many centuries, Brighton's fish market was situated on the beach below the low cliffs at the end of East Street, now built over by Grand Junction Road. From the 1880s the fish market at Brighton beach was at 216-224 King's Road Arches, with a hard area provided in front for stalls. Although fishing decreased during the 20th century, the market still sold "imported" fish wholesale until 1960, when it was removed to a new extension of the Circus Street Municipal Market.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Comments about this page

  • The fish market of the day never sold imported fish. When local supplies were unavailable we relied in suppliers from around the UK , Grimsby , Hull , Lowestoft etc. The fish market was moved to Circus St because certain councillors wanted to copy Hove and have gardens there instead. When the Duke of Norfolk opened the new fish market he said that a fish market belonged on the beach and not in the centre of Brighton!

    By John Rolf (07/04/2019)

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