Fishing - Introduction

 

The villages on this coast originally developed as small fishing and agricultural communities with a few farms and fishermen’s cottages. The 1841 census shows seven fishermen living in the village. This reduced to only two in the censuses of 1861 and 1871 but by 1881 had increased to eight.


In the 1920s we know that twenty fishing boats worked out of Brook Bay and in living memory Alf Woodford chugged the round of his lobster pots in his white painted boat and sorted his catch in the tarred shed on Brook Green nicely named ‘Seashell’. Therles, the cottage Alf lived in has changed little and the cluster of houses on the Green still gives an impression of what the huddled line of fishermen’s cottages must have looked like.

The undercliff at Sudmore, to the east of Brook Green, had particularly good fishing grounds. Withies for making crab and lobster pots were also planted there. The chief catches outside the mackerel season were prawns and lobsters. In the old days Brook fishermen would be out early in the morning to catch the prawns, cook them and take them to Newport to be put on the train for Billingsgate fish market in London.

Glass floats, like these, were commonplace on Brook beach in the 1950s, but are very rarely found today. Made in Japan, they are hollow glass balls with air inside to give them buoyancy. Each float had its own net and a long line of them was attached to huge fishing nets to keep them afloat. Most of these floats are in shades of green because that is the colour of glass from recycled sake bottles.