The Cellardyke Echo – 19/8/2021 – Issue 301


The herrings have now appeared upon our shores. Several boats from St Monance came in this morning with seven to eight barrels each, and one boat delivered at Cellardyke about 14 barrels. The present Shoal of herrings appears to be close inshore.


1t is gratifying to be enabled to state, that there never was a better appearance of herring fishing on the east of Fife coast than at present. Shoals of these fishes are seen extending four or five miles in length, and the quality is excellent. About forty boats are employed, and all are getting more or less. Some boats, yesterday, landed 18 crans. The cadgers are paying 12s., and the curers about 11s., per cran. It is a pity there are not more boats at hand, as the fishing is expected, from the state of the tide, to very heavy next week. The fishing ground at present is about half a mile to the eastward of Cellardyke, in 15 or 16 fathoms water, and about two miles from the shore.


The herring fishing here is going on prosperously. Two boats have come in this morning with about thirty crans each. A number of the fishermen went to a place called Auld-Haiks, neat Fifeness, last night, to try the fishing there, appearances were said be favourable, but the boats have Dot yet returned, and their success is not known. At the fishing on this coast, we understand that up to the 14ih, the boats had averaged about fifty-four or fifty-five crans each, and the prices have never been below I Is. to curers, while some times and 39s pet cran have been paid by the cadgers the fishermen. One boat’s crew have caught upwards of 150 crans.

( Some of the largest single shots landed in Scotland that season were landed at Cellardyke of over 60 Crans per boat, huge for boats that were on average only about 35ft, that is 2ft longer than the Fisheries Museum’s Whitewing, The landings were so large that the prices fell dramatically and boats had to sail to Leith or Burntisland to get decent prices, for the season one boat landed over 600 crans, and 80 local boats averaged over 350 crans)


Cellardyke, Aug. 13 The herring fishing has been very successful this morning. The take considerable both sides of the Frith. On the Fife side, the fishing ground is now off the Billowness, a scene which was so beautifully and so truly delineated by J. F. Williams, Esq. in the exhibition of paintings this spring. The boats came into Anstruther this morning, loaded with 30 and 40 crans, and the price down to 12s. per cran. Cadgers’ carts, to the number of 100 and upwards, and containing three and four crans each, are now setting off in all directions the bustle of which, with the number of persons employed carting, gutting, packing, and curing, gives this town and Anstruther a very animated and interesting appearance at present. August 14,—Two French vessels have arrived at Anstruther harbour in order to take in herrings; and although there have been good shots this morning, the price is still 12s. and 13s. per cran. The concourse of cadgers very great. The boats which went to Dunbar last night have not yet arrived at Anstruther; but they are observed to be on their passage across, and as they appear pretty deep the water, it inferred they are well fished.

August 15 – the heaviest fishing this morning that has taken place since the commencement of the Drave. Many boats have brought in twenty, thirty, and forty crans, and upwards—and the demand being brisk, both from curers and from cadgers, nearly the former prices were maintained, viz. eleven shillings, and eleven and sixpence per cran. About ninety boats came and discharged their herrings in Anstruther harbour alone, besides what went to Cellardyke and Pittenweem. The fishing ground is off Craignoon Haven, the proposed harbour at Cellardyke, and quite close in, namely, five or six fathoms water. The fish are of an excellent quality, having no appearance of being near spawning; and the fishermen say there every prospect of a heavy fishing. The boats ‘will now average fifty crans each, and the price fourteen shillings per cran.

Another report states – Great inconvenience is experienced for want of a sufficient number of women to gut and pack herrings.


Wick – Seldom has there been such an irregular fishing as this year; for, while some boats do not exceed 20 crans, others range from 200 to 349-the latter quantity having been caught by the “The Brothers” of Cellardyke, James Murrav, master, in fourteen shots.


Great Take of Herrings.-There was an enormous take of herrings on the Fife coast, on Monday week, such as has not occurred in that quarter for many years. The boats from St. Monance, Pittenweem, Anstruther, Cellardyke and Crail, were literally overloaded, many of them bringing in upwards of one hundred crans. In connexion, with this extraordinary fishing, it is rather remarkable that on the following evening the immense shoals of herrings entirely disappeared, and the boats out on that evening took few or none.

1848 – John o Groats Journal

The distressing circumstances of Saturday morning will not surely lost on the authorities Wick and well as on the fishermen, in teaching them some useful lessons for their future guidance under similar circumstances. I was out at four o’clock at the shore on Saturday morning, and shall relate what saw, that may enabled the better to see where we have failed in our duties, and the course I think ought to pursue in providing against similar contingencies. When I got to the shore it blew a perfect hurricane, with thick rain, so that 1 could only sea short distance into the bay, perhaps not much beyond the farthest out pall. Out of the gloom beyond, boat after boat made its appearance, some making for the harbour, others for the river. Two or three reached the harbour in safety, while others were either swamped before they reached it, or struck the north and south quay heads, and became perfect wrecks, and the crews, either wholly or in part, were drowned. Of those who made for the river, three were safely moored alongside the jetties, and two were stranded on the bank, but the crews, boats, and nets were saved. All this in little more than half hour. The suddenness the whole affair, and the tremendous violence of the raging elements, seem, at first sight, to defy all human calculation and forethought. This I question.

A good deal, l am persuaded, might be done to save life and property that has not been done. Thomas Cunningham, from Cellardyke, ran the river, and got safe in; but, before encountering the broken water, he and his men cut their buoys from their nets, and tied the bladders round them. Like cool calculators, and men accustomed to look danger in the face, they saw the risk they were run, and did their best to increase their chances of saving themselves. What have the authorities of Wick and Pulteneytown done to lessen the risks of their dangerous harbour and river? Literally nothing.  No Thomas Cunningham has ever sat at their boards. A light on the quayhead would have been of great service; but there was none. Life buoys and other apparatus for saving life and property, on each quayhead, would have shown humanity and forethought, but there are none. A lifeboat would have been of practical service, but no lifeboat have we; nor is there a single person whose business it is to give directions in any exertions that may put forward aid to poor fishermen at the mercy of the pitiless storm. Such state of things ought not surely to continue. Blame, great blame, attaches somewhere; indeed, I would say, an amount of negligence disgraceful to all concerned. ……………

To the fishermen, I would say, never attempt Pulteneytown harbour in storm, make for the river rather, but before you do even this, mind on Thomas Cunningham of Cellardyke and cut your buoys from your nets, and tie them round you. You will feel more secure, and, consequently, do your work better

l remain, &c., A  Looker on – Wick, Aug. 21, 1848.


Sherriff Criminal court – Christian Kay or Thomson, Cellardyke, pleaded guilty to having stolen a number of articles at Crail, and was sentenced to sixty days’ imprisonment.


There will be Sold by Public Roup, within the Town Hall Cellardyke, on Saturday the 29th September 1849, At Two o’Clock P M,

1. All and Whole that TENEMENT of Two Flats, with the Yard and Pertinents, as presently possessed by George Smith, and others, bounded by the late Ann Simson’s subjects on the west, the Vennel leading to the sea the east, the sea on the south, and the street Cellardyke on the north.

2. All and Whole these Three DWELLING-HOUSES of Two Flats, with Offices and large Gardens attached to situated on the north side of the street Cellardyke, and immediately the east of the Town Hall, and possessed by Robert Anderson and Others ;—as also All and Whole that Small HOUSE of One Flat immediately to the north of the Shambles of Cellardyke.

3. All and Whole that new DWELLING-HOUSE Two Flats, possessed by James Wilson and others; small HOUSE adjoining, possessed by Widow Marr; – FISHCURING YARD the south thereof, situated east side the Tolbooth Wynd, with the eastmost ROOM and CLOSET on the second storey of the eastmost House, with the GARRET above the same, and westmost CELLAR of said House, possessed by James Jack and others, situated on the south side the street of Cellardyke, opposite the Town House.   

These Properties are most convenient and valuable, and will subdivided into small Lots, if not sold in whole. For further particulars, apply Oliphant, Writer, Anstruther, in whose hands are the Articles of Roup and Title-Deeds. Anstruther, August 1849.

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