Monument record LWT 189 - The Denes

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Summary

Location of historic drying racks for fish-nets on Lowestoft waterfront.

Location

Grid reference Centred TM 5528 9421 (98m by 186m)
Map sheet TM59SE
Civil Parish LOWESTOFT, WAVENEY, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Location of fish-net drying racks on Lowestoft waterfront known as 'The Denes'.
Historically the area was the location of a fishing community called the 'Beach Village' from which the local fishermen used longshore boats (along the shore) and, later, sailing smacks and then steam drifters. By the early 20th century the longshore boats had become trawlers and the fishing industry the mainstay of the local economy. Gradually the sheds and shacks of the 1760s became more numerous and more permanent so that by 1791 the first primitive houses were built on a small tract of land lying below the cliffs. Known as the ‘fish houses,’ they consisted of little more than four rooms (two-up, two-down), which accommodated an entire family some with as many as 12 or 13 children. The historian Edmund Gillingwater recorded that 76 brick and flint tenements were built between 1791 and 1806 ‘and this was the beginning of Lowestoft’s famous Beach Village, or “the town below the cliff” as it became known’.
The village was predictably ramshackle and its people poor in the extreme, living mainly on herring. In 1897 the whole village was flooded during a storm. By 1900 the Beach Village had a population of 2,500, 13 public houses and several ranges of working buildings.
By the 1950s the Beach Village was almost derelict, its inhabitants having moved up into the town. When the area was cleared in the early 1960s a few net drying racks were left behind. These had been used by the families to dry drift nets before storage at the end of the fishing season. If put away damp they would rot. In the days of steam drifters, each vessel carried almost two miles of net and as there were nearly 800 drifters fishing from Lowestoft in the 1890s, row upon row of racks were needed. At the turn of the 20th century there were more drifters registered at Lowestoft than at any other English port.
Once landed, the fish were gutted and barrelled in brine out in the open to the south of where the racks stood. Each year over a thousand Scottish fisher girls came here for the Great Autumn Fishery, the industry reaching a peak in 1913 when 535 million herring were landed at Lowestoft. (See Source 1)
Recent O.S. maps (1970's onwards) depict two groups of drying racks, although 1940's aerial photographs show considerably more drying racks to the north of the currently extant ones. Early O.S. maps do not depict the extent of the racks.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Machine readable data file: Website. http://suffolk.gov.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/a-look-back-at-lowestofts-beach.village-21610/.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Nov 21 2012 2:40PM

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