If you ask about the Net Shops in Hastings, you’re probably not wanting to know where you can get net-curtains or hair-nets, and although you might be asking about a shop where you can buy fishing nets, you are more likely to be asking about the very tall, black, wooden sheds which stand on the beach. They are very tall, some of them up to three stories high, and are used to store the nets from the fishing boats, but not just the nets, other items such as ropes and sails which needed to be kept under cover.
When I heard what they were I assumed it was for hanging up nets to let them dry, like kippering herring, but the nets and other gear made from organic material would usually be dried on the shingly beach first and then stored. They were known as ‘shops’ used in the same way the word ‘workshop’ is used. There have been fishermen’s huts on the beach, known as the Stade, probably as long as there have been ‘modern’ fishing boats but because of the weather and the tides, the huts had to be able to be rebuilt if they were damaged, and many of them were elevated on legs or stones so the sea could flow in beneath them, although apparently some had wheels. Sometimes the shed was an old fishing boat upended:
Most of the Net Shops you can see today are nearly 180 years old, and are preserved as a tourist attraction.
For some fascinating information about the net Shops have a look here: