The Cellardyke Echo – 03/06/2021 – Issue 289


At a meeting of managers of the Church on Monday night, Mr Bisset, Granton, was appointed organist and choirmaster by a majority in room of Mr Pattison, Crail, who resigned. Rev. Mr Ray, the minister, left yesterday on a three weeks deputy mission work among the fishing population at Barra.

Private James Duncan, son of Mrs William Duncan (late of Cellardyke) , writes detailing his life and duty during the siege of Kimberley. We had no big guns to reply to the Boers shelling, but only a few mussel-loading 7-pounders, which were no use against 12 and 15 pounders. We have had some narrow escapes from shells. One day I was going down a street from the house, and on turning the corner into another street, a shell came and burst on the pavement, sending pieces flying all round. During the same day shells were coming into the town at a great rate, making large holes in the streets and wrecking houses. Mother, Willie, and I had a very narrow shave. They came up to visit me at the camp at the Sanatorium, in the afternoon. I took them to see the position where the Boers were firing from, a ridge about 5 miles away. I took them down to the end of the ground, and we stood watching the smoke of the gun. 2 or 3 shells were fired, but they burst a long way off. When the next one came it made a fearful noise going through the air, and it exploded right in front of us 10 yards away. Mother did the wise thing by getting fiat down on the ground. William got through the wire fence, and picked up a few bits scattered on the road, on which the train runs. It had passed 2 seconds before the shell came. We all got a fright, but it helped us all the better to stand the brutes of 100 pounders. They did terrible damage to the town. The firing of the shells at night when the town was at rest was most barbarous. All the shelling of the Boers never gave them any advantage. If they had shelled the defences and redoubts round the town, and then attacked the place, they might have gained something, but their purpose was to kill women and children, and fire at the hospital. The Boers knew that all the husbands and brothers were out at the different posts round the town, which were the safest places from shell fire. The only little bit of a scrape I had was on the day when the relief column came. We were relieved on a Thursday, but on the Wednesday we took a Boer position, Alexandersfontein. My company was sent out to relieve the townguard. We left at 3 o’clock and went to a place sailed Davis Koppie, stayed there until 8 o’clock at night. Then 25 of us marched to Alexandersfontein through torrents of rain. We were wet through in spite of the overcoats. We arrived there about ten o’clock p.m. We started to dig trenches for protection against rifle fire, which we knew would come with daylight. About 6 o’clock in the morning we were busy putting up a redoubt of sand bags, when whiss, ping, came a few bullets over our heads, and with that shell fire as well. Work was stopped at once, but only for a time. It was work that had to be done quickly for protection’s sake. An hour after we started again and worked a while when bullets and shells came again all round. The Boers had a twelve pounder gun on a koppie called Spitzkop, and a 40 pounder on another called Susanna, so that we had 12 pounders firing into the right of us and 40 pounders into the left. It was not pleasant to stand there and be targets for bullets and shells. Several of the party were out at different points, and noticing the enemy’s fire they started with maxim and rifles, preventing the Boers from coming to the redoubts. Meanwhile the Boers were trying to get round a position, an empty house, in which there were 12 of our fellows. Another section of 12 men, of which I was one, was sent out to check them. We advanced from the redoubt in single file, six paces from each other, taking all the cover we could behind bushes, ant heaps, &c.. until we reached a ridge. We saw the Boers and let them have plenty of fire. As we advanced over the ridge, the bushes got very scarce, and so little cover could be found we had to lie down and crawl along, firing a shot only now and again. The Boers were situated on a clump of big stones, and had excellent cover. They could see every move we made. I was lying behind a bush 3 feet high, and every now again would fire a round, and then lie flat, when the bullets would come and knock the leaves off the bush. The nearest bullet was 2 feet off. I dug it out of the ground. We had a hot time of it. One of our fellows was hit in the head. He was my messmate. It was at this time we were getting a cross fire from all sides. We had to lie in one position flat on the ground, for 1 ½ hours without seeing or firing a shot. Then the Maxim gun came up and played on the Boers. We dare not show ourselves even then, but had to slide along the ground flat for about 300 yards before we got to cover. The chap who was hit was able to help himself away. He was in the hospital 3 weeks, and now he has a piece of his skull about the size of a sixpence, to hang on his watch chain. Altogether 13 were wounded that day, and while the ambulance waggon was receiving them the Boers shelled it.

Our object was not to attack the enemy unless they attempted to advance. We were there to keep them back off the flat veldt, where the relief column was coming through, and to hold the dam and springs of water. At 3.30 P.M. we sighted the relief coming through the kopjee, where the 40 lb. gun was. A splendid sight it was. The gun immediately stopped shelling, the column captured it, and came into Alexandersfontein. Then the Boers ran off for dear life. Shortly afterwards the relief column marched into Kimberley.

Private Duncan concludes his interesting letter by saying he got the Queen’s box of chocolate all right, and hoping the war will soon be over. He says he had not slept in a bed for over 6 months, and all that time about 6 times in a tent, having had to sleep out in trenches, redoubts, and on tops of koppies. He had not had his clothes off to go to bed all the time.


Launch of Fishing Boat.—Yesterday afternoon Mr Miller (Anstruther) launched a fishing boat which he has built to the order Messrs James Muir and James Tarvit, fishermen, Cellardyke. The boat was named the True Vine by Miss Muir, daughter of (me of the owners. She 68 feet over all, with a beam of 20 feet 10 inches, and depth of 8 feet.

Theft from a Harness-Room.

At a Police Court yesterday, David Ross, a carter, Cellardyke, pled guilty to stealing a horse’s collar from Kirkcaldy’s harness-room at the Dreel Castle stables and was fined 10s 6d, or seven days.

Robert Keith, carter, Cellardyke, was fined 7s 6d or five days, for a disturbance on Saturday night Shore and East Green Streets.


Three Cellardyke boats which have been fishing for the past four weeks on the Donegal coast, arrived home on Saturday. The season was a very poor one, the stormy weather preventing them frequently getting to sea. The earnings were about £5O, and the prices sometimes went up to £3 per cran for the herrings, which were of splendid quality. The rest of the Cellardyke boats are to remain for three or four weeks yet in the hope that better weather will enable them to secure more herrings.

The earnings of the liners last week were as follows:—Rothesay Bay £78, Anster Fair £69, Glenogil £6O, Innergellie £42, and William Tenant £9O.


The many friends of the late Mr Thos. Cunningham of Cellardyke will be very pleased to hear of his son, Rev. Thomas Cunningham’s great success and honour in ministerial work. He is the Minister of “Scottsdale” and “Ringarooma,” Tasmania, where he has laboured for the last twelve years, and at the last General Assembly of the Presbyterian church of Tasmania, he was elected to the moderator’s chair. Prior to this honour being conferred on him, the ladies of his congregation presented him with lovely new pulpit-robes, showing how much he is esteemed and beloved. It is the heartfelt wish of all his friends that the rev. gentleman may be spared in health and strength to labour amongst those who all love him so dearly.

PROPELLOR FOR FISHING BOATS. We hare much pleasure in calling attention to MACDONALD’S IMPROVED STEAM CAPSTAN, and to their New and Highly Satisfactory PORTABLE PROPELLOR for FISHING BOATS. The Propellors, which can be fitted into any boat, have surpassed all expectations, and are capable of driving a boat at six knots without interfering with her as a sailing craft. We shall be glad to give particulars to interested parties regarding this most important invention to Fishermen. AGENTS- JOHN MARTIN & Co., CELLARDYKE:


THE FISHERY STATISTICS OF THE ANSTRUTHER DISTRICT. The tables prepared on behalf of the Fishery Board for Scotland, and given in the annual report recently issued, show that in their Anstruther district last year there were 11 steam vessels engaged in the fishing with 116 of a tonnage, and of the value of £10,725. The value of the lines was £518, of the nets £1055, and of the bush, buoy ropes and buoys £378. The length of the lines in yards was 308.700, and 315,000 square yards of netting and 23,240 yards of ropes. The number of men and boys engaged was 71.

The fishing boats in the district last year numbered 515, of a value of 299,504, while the value of the nets was £60,042, the lines £4,440, the bush and buoy ropes, &c., £14,954, and the crab and lobster creels £801, or a grand total of £179,741, The area of netting in square yards was 20,469,844, of the lines 2,678, 940, and of the ropes 908,410. The number of crab and lobster creels was 5,760. The number of fishermen and boys was 2,178.

In Anstruther and Cellardyke there are 142 boats with 434 resident fishermen and boys and 163 non-resident fishermen and boys. The value of all kinds of fish landed last year was £38,987.  ( this figure is incorrect as in the winter herring season alone that year 32 000 crans were landed and the minimum value being  £1 per cran) In Pittenweem there are 66 boats with 227 resident and 87 non-resident fishermen while the value of the fish landed was £40,047. In St Monans there are 100 boats with 372 resident and 204 non-resident fishermen, and the value last year was £9,157. In Crail and Kingsbarns there are 42 boats with 78 fishermen, and the value was £5433. In Crail alone the value was £4803. In Anstruther district there are 2801 persons employed in the industry.

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