Tales passed down through generations of Dorset fishing families are to be retold in a new book celebrating a centuries-long local tradition.

Author Sarah Acton has uncovered stories, photographs and recordings that portray a vivid picture of a way of life that has largely disappeared.

Her book, Seining Along Chesil Beach, is an oral history featuring contributions from many of the families and people who remember the traditional ‘seine’ fishing method, which takes its name from the nets used to catch fish from the shore.

For hundreds of years fishing communities along the Dorset coast lived from the shoals of mackerel that migrate between May and October, which were caught using seine nets in shallow waters. Tightly knit crews then used wooden lerret boats to pull bumper catches ashore.

"Bound by this communal, seasonal wait and scramble for fish, their friendships and rivalries, identity and language were shaped by the sea," said Sarah Acton - who is also co-founder of the Heart of Stone community theatre project on Portland. 

“We hear of family gatherings on the beach, and of men and women who lived for the fishing and whose intimate local knowledge, gleaned over a lifetime and passed down over the generations, were essential to their livelihoods,” she added.

“These voices echo through time to tell us about people who were completely connected to place and who lived by ‘the ways of beach’.”

A public book launch was held on Thursday December 15 at Sunset Lounge Bar, Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, Burton Bradstock.

There will also be a tour of talks early in the new year, with dates to be announced soon.

  • Seining Along Chesil Beach is priced at £16 and available to buy online at www.littletoller.co.uk/shop/books/little-toller/seining-along-chesil-by-sarah-acton/