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The history of Winchelsea

A town planned: the new port

The port of New Winchelsea was sited on the shelf of land flanking the River Brede, below the northern side of Iham Hill, along what is now Tanyard Lane and the Strand. This area was divided into another 79 plots providing private wharves. In addition, there was a public quay, called the common quay or Town Dock, at the eastern end of the port, near to where the Bridge Inn now stands. South of the common quay was the area called the Strand. This was the site of a fish market and was probably where imported bulk commodities were traded (in preference to lugging them up the hill into the town and then lugging them back down to the harbour to be shipped out). There appear to have been workshops and an official town storehouse on the Strand. The harbour was protected by a raisable chain across the river.

Although the section of river which flowed along the northern side of the town was quite wide, much of it is thought to have been tidal mud flats and salt marsh which flooded only at high tide. The navigable channel was probably quite narrow and followed the present course of the much reduced river. Most of the quayside would only have been accessible by ships at high tide. This reduced the usefulness of many of the private wharves, which may account for why 33 of the 79 harbourside plots had been abandoned as early as 1344.

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