Exhibition to showcase Selsey's 1,000-year-old fishing industry

Fishermen Chris and Mike Harvey. Photo credit, John Periam
Fishermen Chris and Mike Harvey. Photo credit, John Periam

A new exhibition celebrating more than 1,000 years of fishing will open at The Novium Museum this weekend.

The exhibition will open from Saturday (June 15) until March 2020 and will tell the stories of the local fishermen and women who help to generate £1.5 million for the local economy each year.

Roy Brisco, cabinet member for community services and culture at Chichester District Council said: "I'm delighted that the Sea's the Day exhibition will help to share Selsey’s important fishing heritage with thousands of visitors to The Novium Museum, locals and tourists alike.

"The Selsey Fishery is the heart of the town and I hope that people will be inspired to support the fishermen and women to help make sure that this important industry continues to thrive. We’d like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their support of this important project.”

Sea’s the Day: The Story of the Selsey Fishery showcases the important role the Selsey Fishery plays, and highlights the need to make sure this vital industry thrives in the future.

The fishing community of Selsey give the town its unique identity. Through their voices, the exhibition provides a snapshot of the industry today and captures how it has changed over recent decades.

Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy a special ten-minute film featuring interviews with the Selsey fishing community, and three fascinating audio stories about Selsey’s ties to the sea told through the voices of fishermen and women, and their families.

The exhibition is part of Sea’s the Day, a project developed in partnership between the Selsey Fishery, Selsey Town Council, Chichester District Council, and the Manhood Peninsula Partnership, which aims to raise people’s awareness of their local fishing industry and help preserve its future for years to come.

A successful grant application secured £35,800 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has helped to support a series of activities to promote this important industry and re-engage the town with its fishing heritage, including:

• a book packed with fascinating stories and memories from the fishing community;

• a series of recipe cards with recipes from restaurants, pubs and cafes in Selsey and the Manhood Peninsula to encourage the use of locally caught produce;

• a unique film of the fishermen and women, both on board their boats and in their shacks on the beach in Selsey, which will be shown within the exhibition and can also be seen on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT6xdZH41DI

• an oral history record capturing the voices of 30 fishermen and women;

• an exhibition at The Novium Museum showcasing the outputs from the project.

Andrew Brown, Selsey Town Council’s Chairman states, “The Seas the Day project as a whole is about safeguarding and strengthening Selsey’s Fishing industry through its heritage.

"The exhibition is one part of its legacy, an opportunity to share and promote Selsey’s Fishing industry so that together we can protect its long-term sustainability.

"I hope that Seas the Day encourages Chichester District residents and tourists to purchase locally sourced fish and seafood, either in local restaurants or fresh from the fishermen and women at East Beach, Selsey.

"I thank Selsey’s fishermen and women for introducing the idea of Seas the Day to Selsey Town Council and thank our partners and funder for making Seas the Day a reality.”

Meryn Woodland, a member of one of the oldest fishing families involved in the Sea’s the Day project, says: “I was more than happy to help with the Sea's the Day project when asked many months ago.

"My family has been part of the Selsey fishing community for a very long time and it was my absolute pleasure to be involved in a project that looks back into its history and, most importantly, its future. I feel it has shed light on the hard work and struggles it takes to bring the fish that we all eat to our tables.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank those involved in the making of this fantastic project. I know they have put in many hours of hard work and research into making this the success it is.”

The exhibition at The Novium Museum will be accompanied by a fascinating range of talks including a talk on the Fishermen’s Mission by Nick O’Neil and a talk on Marine Archaeology by Alistair Byford-Bates, Historic Environmental Fisheries Liaison Officer.

Willow making workshops will also take place to demonstrate how willow is used in the making of lobster pots.

At the end of the exhibition, the oral histories and the film created during the Sea’s the Day project will be held by the West Sussex Records office, keeping the valuable stories of the Selsey fishermen alive for future generations.