Rottingdean Smugglers Night - Saturday 6th December

Published: Saturday 29th Nov 2014

Written by: Abi Radford

Yo ho Yo ho, A pirate’s life for me…

The 2014 Smugglers Night event in Rottingdean is soon approaching and it offers to provide more than ever before. The event, which commemorates the rich history of the smugglers that brought contraband into Rottingdean from the mid seventeenth century, fills the streets of the village each year with pirates! This year it will be held on Saturday 6th December with the main events taking place from 2-9pm. Rottingdean is a historical village on the outskirts of Brighton – only a 15 minute bus ride away – and is definitely worth a visit in both summer and winter. Smugglers night is an event that will entertain the whole family and it caters to the interests of the children as much as the adults. If anything, the atmosphere in the village is enough to make you want to come back the next year!

History of Smugglers Night

From the mid seventeenth century for two hundred years the Rottingdean gang of smugglers ran contraband from landing sites on Rottingdean beach. They used caves which were dug into the cliffs and ran tunnels underground to reach the cellars of the Inns and houses under the high street. Highly prized goods such as tea, coffee, spices, brandy and gin were smuggled into the village in this way. Smuggling was a dangerous business and many men risked their lives and livelihoods to earn a little bit more money to support their families. Sea smugglers faced naval service on a man-of-war and land smugglers risked transportation and possibly even death if convicted. The remoteness of Rottingdean made it a popular spot for smugglers and the contraband was stored at various spots throughout the village. Make sure you head to the Black Horse on the Highstreet because it is an inn that is reputed to have been the smugglers meeting place – I’m sure it looks a lot different to how it used to filled with pirates! Economic downturn in Britain in the 1770s meant that smuggling became even more popular but it fizzled out in the nineteenth century after the national coastguard was introduced in 1821.

What’s happening this year?

Rottingdean Highstreet will be closed to traffic from 3pm which will allow certain events to be held in the street. From 2pm- 6pm the local charity PARC will be holding a frozen grotto and there will also be a pirates cave at Anthropod Arts from 2pm – 5pm. A food and craft market will be held in the Lloyds bank car park from 2pm – 9pm which will be selling lots of delicious treats. There will be many more events held in the village during the day so it’s well worth going down early to make a day of it.

The Smugglers evening always goes off with a bang! This year there will be Fire Spinning on the village green at 6pm, the Buccaneer march through the village at 7pm, and to commemorate the beginning of the First World War there will be a ‘Lest We Forget’ service at the War Memorial. The event will finish with a grand Ariel display of fireworks from the beach at 8:30pm which gets better and better every year!

The pubs and shops in the village will be open throughout the event – so head down and explore what is on offer! The event is always a huge success and it is one of my highlights of the year. So expect fireworks, a lot of people dressed as pirates, and a lot of fun!

Abi Radford



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