Brighton Fisherman's Society c.1999

Brighton Fisherman's Society c.1999
Anne Fortis

I first came to Brighton in 1987 when I was 14 years old. I didn’t return for years, but then came back in 1999 taking many photos with every visit.

This photo shows the Brighton Fisherman’s Society Established in 1813, which is located under the Arches along the sea front. I took this photo because I thought there were some interesting curves and shadows in the picture. I like the way the boats have unique names and the way the nets are left for the next day’s fishing.

I now live in Sussex Square, Kemptown which I love. I find Brighton a bit eccentric, and a bit ‘anything goes‘, but you can be who you want.

Comments about this page

  • I would be interested to know if anybody out there has any information on the Brighton Fisherman’s Society as many of my relations were fishermen and fisherwomen in Brighton at that time. Please contact me at

    By Eric Pentecost (17/05/2007)
  • I have three names in my family history connected to the fishing trade in Brighton, ranging from about 1871 to 1956: Richard Jeffery, fisherman, William Cobby, fish hawker and Thomas Goble, born 1884 (ossie), fisherman with the Skylark. If anyone has any info on my folks, l would love to hear from them.

    By Sheila Jones (15/08/2007)
  • My grandfather was a Licenced Waterman and a Fisherman at Brighton. His name was Francis Bonnot and he lived in nearby Artillery Street for many years. He was born in 1909 and probably walked with a limp. He passed away in 1959. He may have also done some kind of coastguarding duty around Brighton during the second world war. His father, Francois Bonnot, possibly French, may have also been connected to Brighton fishing. I have visited the Fishing Museum and spoken to a local historian but have not got any further – would love to hear from anyone who has any ideas, thanks!

    By Sarah Green (21/09/2007)
  • My Nan’s side of the family “Thwaites” were Brighton fishermen. The Skylark was one of the boats they used. They went to Dunkirk to rescue soldiers during the 2nd World War.

    By Jo Wilson (29/09/2007)
  • My grandfather, Edward Thomas Collins, was a nephew of Capt. Fred Collins who owned the Skylark(s). My great grandmother’s brother, Thomas Harman, was a member of the Skylark’s crew. I would love to hear from anyone who has information on the Collins and Harman families amongst whom were several fishermen.

    By Joan Booysen, Cape Town RSA (05/10/2007)
  • My Grandad was also a member of the Skylark Crew and did the Dunkirk run. His name was Thomas Goble born 1884 in Brighton. If anybody has any info on this, I would love to hear from you. Also, any info on Richard Jeffery, also a Fisherman, and the name Harman.

    By Sheila Jones (07/12/2007)
  • My Father’s family originated in Brighton and I understand were fishermen – the family name is PIERCE. I recognise the name of Artillery Street shown above. There are an awful lot of George Pierces in the family tree. I think my Grandfather moved to London when his parents separated. His Father did remain in Brighton. Any help on my Brighton relatives would be very much appreciated.

    By Sue Goodwright (nee Pierce) (25/02/2008)
  • Hi This is Eric Pentecost again, please note that I have now moved to Cornwall and my new Email address is and am still interested in the Pentecost Fishermen/women.

    By Eric Pentecost (08/03/2008)
  • My great great grandmother was Sarah Shrivell, a fisherwomen. I am interested in any photographs of these ladies at work or anybody who feels they have any connection to the lady born 1822.

    By Alan Fry (10/09/2008)
  • My Grandad, George Heffaran, was also part of the crew of the Skylark (I think his nickname was Honkey, but he really hated it!). He was also involved in the Dunkirk evacuations, although I believe the Skylark was going to St Valery-sur-Somme, but was forced to turn around by Stuka attacks and fierce machine gun fire.  In the late 1980’s he was very proud to be presented with the freedom of St Valery in a mayoral ceremony, and I often take my young family there and tell them the story of our heroic little boats.

    By Ellis Heffaran (15/01/2009)
  • After further investigation, my Grandad’s boat was called the Estelle (which was one of the Skylarks). On a personal note, it is a real shame that the ‘fisherman’s club’ closed down (although the museum is a great tribute to the Brighton fishermen) as my grandad took me there most Sundays for a drink and a game of pool. Does anyone remember the old club which was where the Zap Club (if that still exists) is now?

    By Ellis Heffaran (24/01/2009)
  • Does anyone know anything of a boxing competition held amongst fishermen? My dad believes his dad, my grandfather, John ‘Jack’ Rolf took part in such an event. Whether this was an annual event, or a one-off, I know not but my grandfather was a fisherman up until the early 1930 or so, so I’m guessing that he would have participated in such an event in the mid to late 1920s. If anyone knows anything about this, or, indeed has any recollection of my grandfather I’d love to hear from you.

    By David Rolf (30/06/2009)
  • This is a response for Sheila Jones (09/12/2007). My Uncle was Jack Goble, he was holding the defensive line to enable other troops to board the rescue boats during Dunkirk operations. He eventually had orders that his beach was clear and was able to make his way to the beach when a German fighter plane shot up his group. He was killed and was buried nearby in what was/is a First World War cemetery just across the border in Belgium. The Goble family it seems landed over from France as Huguenots and settled around Hastings and the southeast. It would be nice to see if you have any further info on the family.

    By Marianne Evans (09/09/2009)
  • Hi, my name is Groves, my g/grandad was Henry Markwick, he was a fish hawker. His brother William was a fisherman. If anybody has any info on the Markwick family as fishermen, I would be very grateful. My g/uncle William is on the fisherman painting exhibit in Brighton Museum. Also, my gran Louise Markwick, was a fish hawker. Once again, thanks for any info.

    By Richard F Groves (24/10/2009)
  • Having read the comments from Sue Goodwright, I would like to inform her that my maternal Grandfather was Alfred Pierce, a fisherman, whose wife was Rosina. They had nine children, two of whom are still alive: my mother Mary and my aunt Alice. My mother tells me my Great Grandfather was known as Sweb Pierce, again a fisherman. I have been researching some of the Pierces and have found John Pierce who is buried in the same grave as his father – both were fisherman. John died at fifteen in 1893. If anyone has any information, I would be grateful to hear from them.

    By Dave Tennant (25/10/2009)
  • My Dad Jack Bryant, was a member of the Brighton sea angling club. The first time I was taken out in the boat, I caught all of the mackerel that day.

    By Joyce Blackman(formerly Bryant) (08/01/2010)
  • For Richard F Groves, is Tommy Markwick a member of your family? My dad was a good friend of his in the 1950s. I remember sitting in his arch near the bottom of West Street waiting for the mackerel to be brought in on the boats.

    By Jennie (23/05/2010)
  • Hi Jennie, Tommy Markwick was my uncle and he died in 1988, I used to love coming down to Brighton and staying with him an his wife Ivy as a child. When he stopped fishing he had a stall on the beach selling sea food (tasted lovely). The boat boards from his boats including the ‘Our Ivy’ are on display in the fishing museum, this websight has really brought back chidhood memories for me.

    By Glenda Booth (22/08/2010)
  • My grandfather’s (George F. Martin 1904-1974) mother was was Kate Harman, the daughter of Thomas Harman, a licensed waterman of Brighton. Just email me if anyone wants any/all of the info I have on my Brighton Harmans.

    By Andrew Martin GArvey (26/09/2010)
  • Tommy and Ivy Markwick sold me their fish business and Ivy worked for me for some time. I recently sold the business in 2005 and it is still operating today. I was the last person to hold a license to sell fish on Brighton fish hard as well as being the last person to have a licensed fishing boat on the beach, between the piers. This boat was never ‘actually’ used for fishing. I am now a Trustee of the “Brighton Fishing Museum” and I would be happy to assist anyone enquiring about the museum.

    By Ray Cook (05/10/2010)
  • Ray, will the fishing museum archive become available on-line in the near future?

    By Dave Rolf (16/11/2010)
  • I’m hoping that Andrew Martin Garvey will see my response to his note of 26/9/2010. Andrew my Great Grandmother was Ellen Harman who was a daughter of Thomas Harman & Catherine Malcolm. Her siblings were Thomas Robert Harman, Catherine Mercy Harman, Sarah Harman and Fanny Harman. According to my research Fanny Harman born c1860 married George Martin born c1857 and they had a son George Martin. This, however, does not tie in with your revelation that Kate Harman was the mother of your Grandfather. I’m more than curious about whether or not there is a connection between your relatives and mine, or whether it is just coincidence that the names you have given feature in my lineage. My Catherine (who would probably have been called Kate as well) married Walter Targett and they finally relocated to Wandsworth and reflect in the 1911 Census. I’d love to hear from you so that we can debate the possibility that our families have a connection, and more especially to share our respective information on the Harman family. You can contact me on  

    By Joan Booysen (29/12/2010)
  • Seemingly unrelated to the George Pierce (fisherman) story on this page, my family hark from shipwrights and boat builders of Brighton and Hove. Edward Pearce (wife Elizabeth) was a shipwright between 1841 and 1891 at least, living in Kents Court and Russell and Coleman Streets. A son Gabriel was a shipwright and carpenter, another son James (my great grandfather) broke the trend and joined the 20th Hussars in the 1870s. Is there any record of shipwright / boat building families of the period in Brighton or Hove, or connections with this Pearce family? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Regards

    By Simon Brown (in Australia) (09/04/2011)
  • Hi, this is a message for Glenda Booth. I am Tom Markwick’s Granddaughter his wife Ivy was my step-nan. Your note could have been written by me as I too loved spending time with them on the beach and around the old club chatting with the fishermen, I spent the whole summer selling fish from their stall in 1975 – I believe Ray may have met me as a child. Am making a family tree and would love to hear from anyone conected with the Markwicks. Please get in touch-

    By Susan Lawton (28/09/2011)
  • The fishermen’s club house where the museum is is in the arches. I worked behind the bar there for 9 years and listened to lots of tales from the fishermen who I have known most of my life. They used to go into the arch next to the club house to mend thier nets and cook whelks in there, I remember Tom and Ivy Markwick very well. They used to sell fresh fish from thier arch and Ted Gilliam another fishing family had an arch a bit further along from the club were he would mend his nets.

    By Kathleen Catt [nee Cornford] (29/09/2011)
  • It was many years ago, on a trip back to Brighton from Australia, that my Dad took me to have a drink at the Fisherman’s Club. The barmaid then was brilliant. You could leave money on the counter and she would take for a round out of your pile of cash. I wonder where all the models of lifeboats went? Regards

    By Rick Smallman (14/11/2011)
  • I remember my Dad taking me to the Fishing Museum in Brighton to see our Ivy as I’m related to the MarkwickS.

    By Zach M (22/12/2011)
  • To Alan Fry. My great great grandmother was Sarah Shrivell, a fisherwomen. I am interested in any photographs of these ladies at work or anybody who feels they have any connection to the lady born 1822. By Alan Fry (10/09/2008) I too have a Sarah Shrivell born 1806 married Henry Collings sept 1827 She is my 2nd great Grandmother. It would be good to talk Alan if at all possible? email me

    By Peter David Collings (19/03/2012)
  • To Andrew Martin Garvey, sorry do not have your email address so hope you get to read this message from me. I’m very interested in information you may have on Harmans & maybe Allens in Brighton. Have discovered some tie ups in my family tree and would like to know more. Please email me Thanks.

    By Peter David Collings (23/04/2012)
  • In or around 1956 Norman Knight and myself aged 7 rescued some cadets from a dinghy in a bad storm. We were on The Skylark fishing boat. I received the bronze medal from the RLNI. Is there anybody out there that we rescued? The skylark is an exhibit on Brighton beach, still looks good. Great memories! 

    By Michael Clements (09/09/2012)
  • I am from the Thwaites family, nickname ‘Dapper’. My Dad Tom, the last of his family fishermen, passed away last week, aged 99. The funeral is on 10th May, 11am at St Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean. He used to tell my sister and I lots of stories about his time at sea which began aged six holding the lamp to guide the boats in early in the morning. He and mum, Rita, had a fishmongers in Kemp Town until the mid-60s, supplied by the family. He sold his last boat, the Rita Marion, named after mum, in the early 60s to keep the business afloat. The family stopped fishing about this time. The family boats were kept just to the right of Peter Pans as you look out to sea. I remember him talking about Dunkirk – two of the family boats went out but one didn’t come back, losing an uncle. If anyone wants to get in touch my email address is

    By Clare Davison (05/05/2013)
  • My maternal Grandfather, Francis Bonnot was a fisherman who died when I was 2 years old. My mother has told me that she would accompany him on pleasure boat trips that sailed  around Brighton in the summer months. In the winter when it was too rough to go out to fish, my grandfather would beachcomb, or go black sanding as it was called. He found many coins, really old coins that were passed to me when my Gran died.

    By Steve Barnard (23/03/2014)
  • London’s Tate Gallery has agreed to return an oil painting by John Constable after evidence revealed it was stolen by the Nazis. The 1824 painting, entitled ‘Beaching A Boat, Brighton’, is understood to have been looted and smuggled out of war-time Hungary. See

    By Chris Brady (28/03/2014)
  • I would like to know if there is a register of fishing boat owners around 1900. I am told that my great grandfather, Richard Shrivell, owned more than one.

    By A.J.Fry (31/03/2014)
  • Captain Fred Collins of Collingwood House, Barcome, was my Great, Great, Great  Grandfather

    By Graham Collins (28/08/2014)
  • I am researching for a book and looking for any info on an Alf Gunn, fish salesman in 1939 and a Tomas Mayers who was a fisherman and lived in Artillery Street during 1910.

    By Lauren Staton (06/09/2014)
  • Actually it turns out my comment above is incorrect. My Great, Great Grandfather was Harry Collins the youngest brother of Capt. Fred Collins.

    By Graham Collins (25/06/2015)
  • Hello, I am working a television programme and am hoping to track down anyone involved (or family members) with the flotillas that evacuated troops from St Valery and the surrounding areas were the 51st Division were stationed. If anyone can help, please let me know. Thank you

    By Ayaan Ahmed (06/02/2018)
  • I’ve just been trawling through (no pun intended!) the history of Brighton and was interested to read about the Brighton Fisherman’s Club, of which I was its Secretary & Treasurer between 1984-1988 before moving to run my own pub in Portsmouth. The correct name, however, was the Brighton Fishermen & Boatmen’s Protection Society. I remember very well the late Tommy Markwick who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Brighton’s fishing heritage. He was a trustee of the BF& BPS, alongside George Wheeler, who ran a shellfish stall on the beach outside the society’s premises
    also another shellfish stall on the (then) Brighton Palace Pier. Also Peter Leach, owner of B&N Fish Sales at the market on Circus Street, who also had his own trawlers based at Brighton Marina at the time, Lionel Lacey-Johnson was the general manager of the marina.. I was also pleased to see that a friend of mine in those days, Ray Cook, the society’s chairman, is now a trustee of the Brighton Fisherman’s Museum so its great to see that at least one person from the old regime is still flying the flag in the same old place which gave so much pleasure to its members and friends and did so many good things to support local good causes.
    John P. Graham
    Hampstead Village,

    By John P. Graham (29/03/2020)

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