At the heart of The Stade provides a purpose built area for outdoor events. The seating draws inspiration from the town’s fishing heritage; the circles etched on the ground represent the path trodden by the horses which worked the capstans to pull the fishing boats onto the shore in pre-tractor times.
History of The Stade
In 1896, a new Hastings Harbour was built which stopped shingle moving out along the coast. Over time, the shingle accumulated and steadily grew outwards until it created enough beach space for the fleet.
The steep gradient of the beach means that the fishing boats can slide into the sea at High Tide but they have to be hauled out on their return. This prevents them from being more than ten metres long so they can only carry small amounts of gear over short distances.
Each boat has a Winch Shed which is used to haul the boats out of the sea (before this mechanical miracle, they depended on a capstan and a horse). Tractors are sometimes used to push boats into the sea at Low Tide. Wooden blocks called 'Troes' are laid under the moving boat.
The Fishing Fleet is one of the most exhilarating examples of living history in the United Kingdom, keeping alive a thousand years of techniques and traditions. The Sea Fish Authority described the Stade "as near perfect a fishery as could be devised" because of the environmentally sound methods used by the fishermen (which includes changing their net size to allow young cod to escape and keep stocks high).
Visitors are welcome to witness the fleet in action but must respect the fact that the Stade is very much a working beach with many hidden perils.
The space is flanked on three sides by the Stade Hall and Classroom on the Coast, a family friendly café, and the Jerwood Gallery.