Net Huts

From Historical Hastings

There are 39 Net & Tackle Stores (or Net Shops), the earliest of which was recorded as being constructed in the 16th century but repaired and rebuilt over the centuries. By 1851, the layout of the net shops was much as it is today. The net shops were not secured to the underlying shingle, so that they could be moved if required by the Council and high seas would result in the dislodging of them but hopefully little damage.

The huts are wooden framed and weatherboard clad, although the occasional hut has vertical boarded sides. All are tarred for protection. A few stand on concrete bases rising to approximately 50cm, and a some have concrete blockwork cellars dug into the shingle beach.

The tar preservative and waterproofing of the net shops made them highly combustible, leading to many of the huts being destroyed by fire. The worst recorded fire was in 1846, when about 20 net shops were destroyed. A fire in 1961 destroyed four shops and in the same year an further two were demolished by gale force winds.

The 1950s had seen a decline in the use of the net shops and in 1958 they were reported as being "un-tarred, and falling to pieces through neglect and they faced extinction within ten years". The general public were vociferous in their desire to save the huts, so they were saved from the proposed demolition.

A restoration programme commenced and a number of shops were rebuilt in the 1960s. This was followed in 1985 by a further restoration project.


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