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Sea's the Day

Sea's the Day
Photo Copyright John Periam

The ‘Sea’s the Day’ project, which aims to raise the profile of Selsey’s fishing industry, has been launched thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund (yes, HLF has changed its name) 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. The grant was obtained in June 2018. The official end date for the project is June 2020.

The Selsey fishery in its current form dates to around 1650 though it actually began much earlier, in the 6th century AD according to records written down by the Venerable Bede and other records go back another 200 years. Carbon dating of willow fish traps has pushed this date back even further to the late Bronze Age, and should dates for recently found traps be confirmed this may date fishing activity back to the Middle Bronze Age, in other words a staggering 3,500 years!

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.

Sea’s the Day has captured the stories and memories from the Selsey fishing beach told by the fishermen and their families to make sure we don't forget the fishing heritage of Selsey, which will also help ensure it has a future.

On the way we also put together a short film, and made recipe cards using locally caught fish, crab and lobster to bring local food and ideas on how to prepare it, into your own kitchen. The Selsey Fishery advised the project on what would work and who to approach. This is what we did:

  • Recorded stories and memories of fishermen and their families to be kept as an archive in West Sussex Record Office.
  • Made a film based on the oral history interviews
  • Produced a short book using the interviews.
  • Gathered crab and lobster recipes for recipe cards.
  • Took photographs of fishermen at work to create pull-up banners for exhibitions.

The result of all this activity is a nine month long exhibition in Chichester’s Novium Museum that started on Saturday 15 June and will run until 15 March 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.

For more about the various parts of the project see the boxes at the foot of this page.

Further Information

*Arts Award. More information about the Bronze level issued by Arts Award scheme can be found here:

Sea's the Day Recipe Cards

Sea's the Day Recipe Cards

The Recipe cards were the first part of the project to be completed and have been hugely successful. The aim was to take local catch and show you wonderful recipes giving you ideas about how to cook it in your own kitchen.  Many restaurants across the Manhood Peninsula take pride in serving local produce, particularly seafood, and kindly agreed to... Continue Reading »