Sea's the Day
The ‘Sea’s the Day’ project, which aims to raise the profile of Selsey’s fishing industry, has been launched thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £35,800. Selsey Town Council successfully bid for the money for its Sea’s The Day project with support from the Selsey fishery, Chichester District Council and the Manhood Peninsula Partnership to help secure the grant.
Sea’s the Day aims to create a permanent oral history record of the local fishing industry by recording the fascinating stories and memories of fishermen and their families, and using them to create a short film and accompanying book.
The Selsey fishery in its current form dates to around 1650 though it actually began much earlier, in the fourth century AD. The fishing industry predates the town of Selsey, so the history of fishing is also the history of the town, making it extremely important from a cultural perpsective. Selsey used to be a few miles north of its current location, but migrated south over time because the fishing industry employed most of the population and was therefore central to the existence of the town.
However, the community link between the Selsey fishery and the town of Selsey is greatly reduced nowadays. With social change and an increased ability to travel, there are now many work opportunities other than fishing, most of which are outside Selsey, meaning the fishery is now less connected to many of the local townsfolk. Relatively new arrivals are often unaware of the long tradition dating back to the 4th century AD, and as a consequence do not attach the same social and economic value to the fishery that it once had.
On a positive note the fishing industry is still very important to local residents, both old and new, who have a strong maritime connection. This is particularly so for those involved with the Selsey lifeboat, marine safety and sailing. Fishermen are strongly associated with the lifeboat, and the recent replacement of the Selsey lifeboat station is a reminder that the maritime scene in Selsey is changing.
The Sea’s The Day project aims to re-engage the town of Selsey with its fishing heritage by creating a permanent oral history and film record of the fishermen before the industry changes. Interviews with the Selsey fishermen are intended to provide a snapshot of the current industry and capture the views of those who have seen it alter in recent decades. The project will focus on the fishing heritage of the area, while providing a platform to create public support for future fisheries projects.The Selsey Fishery has been advising the project on what would work and who to approach. This is how we are doing it:
- Recording an oral history project featuring stories and memories of fishermen and their families.
- Making a short film using transcriptions from the oral history interviews as a basis. Four young people from Selsey aged from 18-24 currently on the NEETs scheme (Not in Education Employment or Training) run by Selsey Town Council helped research and produce the film. Two of these attained a Bronze Arts Award* in the process
- Producing a short book using transcriptions of the interviews.
- Gathering recipes featuring local catch such as crab and lobster for use on recipe cards. These will be distributed during British Food Fortnight, and events in Selsey and Chichester
- Taking photographs of fishermen at work to create pull-up banners for exhibitions.
The result of these efforts will be a nine month long exhibition in Chichester’s Novium Museum starting 15 June 2019 and running until 15 March 2020.
The project began in July 2018 and will last until mid 2020. West Sussex Record Office have agreed to look after the oral history and other records on a permanent basis once the project has been completed.
*Arts Award. More information about the Bronze level issued by Arts Award scheme can be found here: