In the 1880's Sussex fishermen were said to be of 'strong and resolute stock'. Mainly a mixed race, partly Spanish partly Norman French and partly Saxon in origin. The 'Willicks' or 'Willickers', as the Fishermen of Eastbourne were known of old, would fish the herring, sprat and mackerel when they came round in their seasons from the North.
In their sturdy sailing luggers known as 'Bourners', along with the fishing fleets of Hastings and Brighton, the Eastbourne fishermen would follow the mackerel down the English channel to Devon and Cornwall and, often as far as the waters off Southern Ireland, being away for months during the season. Other fishing expeditions would take the Eastbourne luggers to northern waters off of the east coast as far away as Scarborough.
This close-knit community possessed skills and knowledge in the ways of the sea acquired over many generations of hardship with a mixture of bravery and tragedy both at sea and ashore.