‘Staithe’ is an Old English word for wharf – a quay used for the loading and unloading of cargo. Initially Brancaster was a busy fishing harbour specialising in shellfish, but in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it became noted particularly for in the shipping of coal, grain and malt (it was reputed to have the largest malthouse in Europe). With the demise of sailing vessels and the development of other forms of transport, Brancaster fell into decline. There is now only a small fishing fraternity and the harbour is devoted primarily to a large number of pleasure craft
Wells-next-the-Sea was once a busy port, especially in the nineteenth century. It boasted a fishing fleet that fished off Iceland, imported coal for the industrial area of the north east and was a major supplier of malt to Dutch and London breweries. A reminder of the past is still evident in the granary, pictured in the first photograph. The granary ceased production in 1990 and has since been converted into luxury flats. Wells is now primarily known as a seaside resort, but it still has a small fishing industry specialising in whelks, crab and lobster.