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Over 50 people attend Private View of The Secret Catch at Causeway School

Over 50 people attend Private View of The Secret Catch at Causeway School

The Lottery funded Heritage project ‘Secret Catch – fishing families’ organised by Community Stuff, put together to teach pupils at Causeway School the unknown history of fishing families in Eastbourne.  The private view in the Causeway School Gallery attracted over 50 people.

The exhibition was put together by pupils and Community Stuff working with local historian and author Ted Hide,  and was a great opportunity for those that took part in the project to display the research that they have been undertaking in this 6 months project.

Jo Seaman, the Heritage Manager at Eastbourne Borough Council officially opened the exhibition at the Private View which was attended by students of Causeway School, their families and friends, teachers, members of the fishing families and other residents in Eastbourne.

After visiting the exhibition Jo wrote in the comments book which is open for all visitors to write in “A wonderful project and thoroughly engaging exhibition. Well done to all involved”

The students that took in the Secret Catch project took visitors around the exhibition where they explained what they had learned. Topics included the role of women in fishing, the different methods of catching fish, some of the shipwrecks off the East coast, the cost of smuggling and family trees of the fishing families themselves. The exhibition also includes photographs of the students as they visited the Eastbourne seafront so they could see the changes from Victorian times to modern day.

At the exhibition, which is open until Wednesday 7th March, visitors can listen to the interviews that each of the students did with Ted Hide, Brian Allchorn and Paul Metcalf MBE from RNLI in Eastbourne. There is also an opportunity children to colour in some of the drawings created by pupils themselves.

Community stuff’s artist Clare Hackney-Ring has been artist in residence at the Causeway School gallery and painted alongside the project. Her paintings are also on display in the gallery.


We would like to invite you to the Private View of the Secret Catch – Fishing Families

We would like to invite you to the Private View of the Secret Catch – Fishing Families

We would like to invite you to the Private View of the Secret Catch – Fishing Families, Heritage exhibition produced and curated by pupils of Causeway School, working with Community Stuff CIC.

Come and find out about your local fishing family.

Private View:

6.30pm-8pm Friday 23rd February 2018
To be opened by Jonathan Seaman, Eastbourne Borough Council Heritage Manager at 6.30pm.

Exhibition Opening Times:

23rd February to 7th March 2018
Monday to Friday 3.30pm-6.30pm
Saturday 3rd March 10am-2pm

Last week before the Christmas break to interview Ted Hide

Last week before the Christmas break to interview Ted Hide

Our students will be interviewing local author Ted Hide about the history of Eastbourne fishing families this week at Causeway School.

This will be our last session before we break up for the Christmas holidays.

We will return on Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 3pm in the Gallery where we will be learning more about oral history.

Have a great Christmas from everyone at the Secret Catch.

Students from Causeway School interview Paul Metcalfe, Former crew member and Operations Manager for Eastbourne Lifeboats RNLI

Students from Causeway School interview Paul Metcalfe, Former crew member and Operations Manager for Eastbourne Lifeboats RNLI

As part of their heritage project where students are researching the history of Eastbourne’s fishing families they interviewed Paul Metcalfe to learn all about the history of Lifeboats in Eastbourne and the part that fishing families took in the rescuing of people in distress at sea.

Eastbourne Lifeboats started in 1822 after the tragic incident in people lost their lives off the Eastbourne shore. Witnessing this incident, Jack Fuller, a Member of Parliament for Sussex and philanthropist purchased Eastbourne’s first lifeboat.

It was usually the coastguards that would be called out to rescues and shortly after in 1833 the lifeboat crew were mainly made up from Eastbourne’s fishing families.

It was at the age of 34 that Paul first became a crew member for Eastbourne Lifeboats RNLI and when asked what made him join it was his passion for the sea. Paul goes on to say that his parents were both in the royal navy and so he appreciated the sea and had a love for boats as a young man. He was the only member of this family to join as a crew member however his son who also shared his passion for the sea was a fisherman for 15 years.

Paul stayed with Eastbourne Lifeboats RNLI until his retirement at the age of 70. During that time of service he helped to rescue 197 lives from the sea.

eastborne rnliSome of this most memorable rescues that he shared with students where the ones that involved a Swedish yacht the Bianca D that had lost its mast in rough seas. During the very rough conditions the 10 force gale winds turned south-westerly so Eastbourne lifeboats began to tow them to Dungeness to get them out of the storm. A journey that took them 10 hours to complete until another lifeboat took over so they could land.

During the student interviews Paul talked with great passion about the Duke of Kent which has recently returned to Eastbourne. The Duke of Kent was Eastbourne’s Lifeboat between 1979 and 1993. Paul described it as a lovely boat that was quite slow. It only went up to 10 miles per hour at sea as opposed to modern lifeboats at 30 miles per hour.

Paul continued to share ‘She was pretty good on the sea. She had great stability’

Eastbourne is one of 137 RNLI Lifeboat stations that operate throughout the UK and is mainly run by volunteers who share Paul’s passion for the sea and also wanting to help others in their local community

Some of the students asked Paul about the role of women on the lifeboats and learned that it was the women that would be responsible for fundraising and some stations like Dungeness it would be the wives of the crew members that would launch the lifeboats down the slipway. It has been in the last 30-40 years that women have since joined the service however Paul isn’t aware of women crew in Eastbourne at this present time (although there have been some).

As Eastbourne now has a harbour the lifeboat is harboured however previous to that Paul explained to the students that Eastbourne had 2 lifeboat stations. The first lifeboat station was near the Redoubt and there was also one on Marne Road.

Paul was asked about the kind of rescues that take place and responded by saying that ‘In recent years it’s mainly pleasure boats that go sailing and fishing boat that run into problems. Eastbourne is one of the busiest lifeboat stations in the country and has gone out on 120 occasions. As Eastbourne has only 2 lifeboats one of the students asked Paul if there have been any incidents where more boats are needed and Paul began to share about the time the Eastbourne Pier was on fire and how 4 lifeboats where used and so help came from Hastings and Newhaven in addition to the in-shore lifeboat. Another incident was when a passenger liner was on fire in the Channel and together with Shoreham and Hastings Eastbourne Lifeboats were called to tackle the blaze.

One of the students ask Paul about the role of lifeboats during the war and they learned that the Eastbourne lifeboats went out to rescue  downed airman that would be in the sea after their plane’s went own. One of Eastbourne’s lifeboats, the Jane Holland was sent to Dunkirk to rescue solders however it was hit heavily by machine guns and became adrift after being severely damaged.

The SS Barnhill was a steam ship that was bombed off Beachy Head in 1940 and it was Eastbourne Lifeboats that went to rescue the sinking ship where some of the wreckage is still visible today.

Paul retired at the age of 70 however Eastbourne Lifeboats RNLI is clearly his passion and he enjoys the opportunity to talk about his long service and to help raise funds for RNLI nationwide.

This week at the Secret Catch we will be interview Ted Hide as the students learn more about the history of fishing families in Eastbourne. We will also be learning more about Ted’s family tree in preparation for the exhibition taking place next year.

See you all in the Gallery at 3pm to learn more!

Brian Allchorn, the last boatman of Eastbourne visits Causeway School as part of Secret Catch

Brian Allchorn, the last boatman of Eastbourne visits Causeway School as part of Secret Catch

The owner of the pleasure boats in Eastbourne made a special visit to Causeway School so that students involved in the Secret Catch project could interview him.

brian allchornBrian brought his collection of photographs and talked to the students about his memories from his collection including the types of boats and fish that they caught. We saw a photograph of his great grand father and the seafront as it originally was.

Each of the students prepared a list of questions around topics that they would like to find out more about in relation to the heritage project around the history of the fishing families in Eastbourne.

During these interviews we learned more about the Allchorn Pleasure Boats that were serviced in Eastbourne. 

secret catchAs a fisherman in Eastbourne we also heard more about types of fish that Brian caught along with details of how they cooked them including how smoking preserved them. He also talked about the fishing regulations of catching small fish in addition to to finding out about his biggest catch! On an average fishing trip 40-50 stone of spratts which they would catch by nets and taken to the market each day. 

We heard about how the development of the sovereign harbour made it easier for fishing boats to go into the sea, when in turn allowed for bigger boats and bigger catches. Brian shared more about how his family were involved in Eastbourne Lifeboats.

We also learned how the fishing families went down from generation to generation and eventually died off as sons chose not to follow the business family and seek careers elsewhere. We asked Brian what the fishermen wore at sea and learned that they wore frocks underneath their life jackets. We also found out how weather made a difference to fishing and we know that snow is the worst however the calm sea would be the most difficult to navigate as you normally use the wind to steer the boats.

Brian shared some family stories on what it was like to be in Eastbourne during the war and experiences of being evacuated.  We also asked him about the types of people that used his pleasure boats including the odd celebrity including Molly Sugden.

Brian worked on the boats until he retired and despite spending most of his life at sea never learned to swim!

All of our students enjoyed spending time with Brian and you can watch the students interview Brian Allchorn on the Secret Catch Youtube channel here. Apologies for the background news!

We have spaces available for everyone else wanting to join us on the Secret  Catch especially those interested in art an wanting to help put the exhibition together.

Next week we will be interviewing Paul Metcalfe from Eastbourne Lifeboats and we look forward to seeing you all, 3pm in the Gallery.