A "celebration of the enduring spirit of Hastings’ fishermen and women"

Generations: Hastings Fishing Families offers a photographic portrayal from the 1990s to the present time of the men and women of the Hasting fishing community.

John Cole
John Cole

The community is Britain’s oldest, and Europe’s largest, beach-launched fishing fleet. It has existed for over a thousand years; it is now on the edge of extinction, warns author John Cole.

Generations: Hastings Fishing Families has been published by Unicorn Publishing at £25 and is available through Unicorn Publishing, Waterstones, WH Smith, Amazon and book stores.

John, aged 73, said: “In 1991 there were over 40 boats on Hastings shingle beach front, The Stade (Saxon for landing place). Today less than ten boats regularly go out to sea. My photographs are a microcosm of what is happening throughout the UK to similar small fishing communities, all of which are struggling to survive due to economic, political and environmental adversity.

“I first came to Hastings from London in 1991 to take a few photographs of the fishing community. Walking along the beachfront, photographing the fishermen at work, I fell in love with the place and kept returning over the next two years. Little did I realise that several years later I would move to Hastings; a few days’ photography turned into a labour of love and a complete change of life.

“From day one, photographing the fishermen and women has been a photojournalist’s dream. This project has been and continues to be very close to my heart and will, I hope, bring awareness to the plight of the Hastings fishing fleet, as well as to so many other small fishing communities throughout the UK.

“It would be easy to romanticise the hard lives of the fishermen and women, working in centuries old methods of manual labour, when for so many of us our lives are spent detached in a digital world.

“The reality is that their work is very tough and often dangerous, yet always satisfying in ways that those ashore find hard to grasp. While Generations highlights the current struggle of this fishing community, it is also a celebration of the enduring spirit of Hastings’ fishermen and women.”

Profits shared with the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society.