The Last Fisherman Standing

From 2016 to 2018 we ran The Last Fisherman Standing Heritage Lottery funded project, to reclaim our town’s rich fisheries heritage and make it available for Worthing residents and visitors.

For centuries, fishing families in Worthing have contributed to and shaped our town. From the town’s earliest Saxon settlements in the fifth century to the modern age, fishing has always been part of Worthing’s ways to sustain its population. And until recently, visitors to the shore would have welcomed the boats back early in the morning, with fishermen pushing their boats up the shingle beach, after spending hours out at sea catching bream, cod, huss or cuttlefish depending on the season.

However, this sight has become rarer over time. Fewer and fewer boats are seen going out to sea and our unique beach launch fishing fleet is quietly disappearing. The fishermen that remain now either fish from harbours along the coast such as Shoreham, Littlehampton, and Brighton, or have stopped fishing altogether.

The last full-time fishermen stopped working on Worthing’s beach in 2015, and their heritage along with their small-scale fishing techniques and traditions are disappearing fast.

The Last Fisherman Standing aimed to preserve the heritage of our fishing families in Worthing, recording and reviving the fishermen’s tales and sharing their vast knowledge of the sea with residents and visitors to our town. We also celebrated their contribution to our town and revived and showcased some of the traditions of small scale beach launch fishing in Worthing over time.

Our two year project included a wide variety of community based activities including monthly cookery classes, pop up fish markets, regular beach ‘fish’ BBQ’s, seaweed foraging, historical digital e-book creation, community workshops and talks, sea themed art exhibitions and multimedia shows, guided walks and an award winning film screening.

Please feel free to browse ‘The Last Fisherman Standing’ digital hub to find out more about the rich heritage of fishing in Worthing.

1887 Worthing: 93 men and 17 boys employed in Fishing

John Booker: One of Worthings Last Fisherman

By 1951: The industry employs fewer than 10 men in Worthing