EDWARD & MARY
The Edward and Mary RX 74 was built in late 1919 on the beach in front of Hastings Old Town. She was the first Hastings fishing boat to be built with an engine installed. Until then all the Hastings boats had been built as sailing luggers, powered only by the wind. The Edward and Mary had a 13 horsepower petrol-paraffin engine mounted, but these early engines were small and of unknown reliability, so the boats that were built between the two World Wars also had full suits of lugsails - just in case!
The Edward and Mary was built for Edward ‘Tiny’ Breeds, landlord of the London Trade pub, who named her after his son Edward (always called Ned) and daughter Mary. Ned worked the boat until the mid-1940s. In late May 1940, the Edward and Mary, plus the other large Hastings fishing boats and the Hastings lifeboat Cyril and Lilian Bishop, all sailed to Dover to stand by to help save the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches at Dunkirk. Only the lifeboat was used, however, rescuing many hundreds of troops.
After the Second World War, the Edward and Mary had one of the new generation of reliable small marine diesel engines installed, rendering her sailing gear unnecessary. She left Hastings in 1957 and carried on working from other Sussex ports, finishing her fishing career as RX 237 in Eastbourne in the early 1980s, where her last owners were Les Simpson, Roy Fillery and Roy Phillips. In early 1983 Hastings local historian Steve Peak found her laid up at Eastbourne, and so to preserve her he purchased her and brought her back to Hastings on 20 May 1983. She was towed by Rod Knight in his boat Andrew Peter RX 134.
For a few weeks she sat in Rock-a-Nore car park, where Steve partially restored her. Then, early in the morning of 8 July 1983, Steve and two friends towed her along Rock-a-Nore Road with a tractor and put her on the beach between the net shops where she is today.
In the early 1980s the net shops area, here in Rock-a-Nore Road, was being largely ignored by Hastings Council, with most of the net shops in a poor state of repair, and the surrounding beach covered in weeds and rubbish. But the siting of the Edward and Mary here in 1983 inspired the Council into rethinking their policy, resulting in a full net shops restoration scheme and improvements to the beach around them. This area looks as it does today because of what Steve initiated in 1983.
Since then the Edward and Mary has been regularly repaired and restored by local boat-builder Steve Barrow.