The Cellardyke Echo – 04/03/2022 – Issue 329


Methil – COAST MISSIONARY WORK —As there is a large fleet of fishing boats at Anstruther just now, Mr M. M. Boyd, the seaman’s missionary, went along and conducted a service in the Town Hall, Cellardyke, last Sabbath evening. About 270 were present, fully 100 being fishermen from the boats in the harbour. Mr Boyd addressed the Gospel Temperance meeting on the Saturday night when there were 150 present. We understand that a request has been made to the Mission to allow Mr Boyd to go to Anstruther and work amongst the fishermen for the month of March. He will come up to Methil two days every week, but as there are fully 1000 fishermen from other places fishing off Anstruther, there is evidently a full month’s earnest work before him. His many friends in the district will heartily wish him God-speed in this special mission East-by. The services in the iron church will be discontinued meanwhile.

Disaster To Fishing Fleet.—Terrible devastation has been wrought among the North Sea fishing fleet by the gales of the 15th and 19th ult. To the homes of the steam liner crews at Aberdeen, Shields, and Cellardyke the losses come with a heavy hand. Five Aberdeen crews are missing, and now also all hope has been abandoned of the Shields liner Bernicia and her crew of ten, the eight fishermen belonging to Cellardyke. This is the heaviest blow that has fallen on the East Coast for at least twenty years. Cellardyke has known nothing to equal it since the disaster to the Yarmouth fleet. In the losses of the Garland, ten years ago, and the Lady of the Lake five years ago, seven men each were concerned. The eight fishermen who manned the Bernicia have left six wives and 24 children, while the engineer was also married and leaves a family of three in Shields. At the request of the Fishery Officer. Mr Rosie, the cruiser Jackal left on Wednesday to search the coast for the missing liners. The Aberdeen authorities also joined in this request. On Monday afternoon a telegram was received from the Fishery Board by Mr Rosie, intimating that the cruiser Jackal, which had been sent out on an errand of search through the North Sea, had reached Invergordon, from whence the Captain wired he had found no trace whatever of the liner or any of the crew’s belongings. In several of the East of Fife churches on Sunday affecting references were made to the (inmates. The names of the crew of the Bernicia were:—Thomas Watson, skipper, married and three of a family ; Daniel Henderson, married and grown-up family ; Alexander Boyter, married and six of a family ; Alexander Gardiner, married and five of a family ; Thomas Gardiner, married, but no family ; Alexander Murray, married and eight of a family ; James Stevenson (20), unmarried; Thomas Ritchie (18), unmarried, all of Cellardyke. Fred Lloyd, engineer, a native of Shields, married and three of a family. Fireman’s name unknown.


PERFORMANCE OF KINDERSPIEL AT CELLARDYKE. Last Friday night a number of children drawn from the Baptist Sunday School gave a performance, of the Kinderspiel ‘The day of rest and gladness’, in the Town Hall, Cellardyke, in aid of the cleaning fund of the Church.


There was launched from the boatbuilding yard of Mr Millar, on Monday, a first class fishing boat built to the order of Messrs David and Leslie Brown, Cellardyke. As she left the weighs she was named “Otway,” the christening ceremony being performed by Miss Chrissy Birrell, Anstruther. The boat is one of the large size, and her dimensions are 68ft over stems, 21ft beam and 9ft depth. Mr Millar is to proceed immediately to lay down keel for a similar craft, to the order of a Shetland fisherman.

Coast Mission

Mr Boyd gave an address last Sunday morning to the Boys Brigade in Cellardyke Town Hall, basing his remarks on the words of the Saviour “Show me a penny,” Luke 20 and 24. We understand that he intends putting book bags with periodicals, etc., on board these boats intending to go to the Shetland fishing, and any friends interested who may have any periodicals, sacred or secular, that they might wish to give for this purpose, might kindly send them to Mr T. Cunningham, Harbour Head, who has kindly consented to undertake their collection.



On Monday night, a public meeting of fishermen and others was held in the Town Hall, Cellardyke, to consider the advisability of taking steps to procure a new lifeboat for the district. There was a very large attendance, the Hall being filled, and the stranger fishermen from the different parts of the coast were well represented. Provost Black presided, and he was accompanied to the platform by Rev. Mr Ray, Mess’s Watson, Dr Wilson, W. Keir, Anstruther ; James Pratt, James Jack, Martin Gardiner, James Meldrum, Peter Muir, and John Carstairs, Cellardyke.

The Provost said he was sorry they had been deprived of the presence of Provost Morton, Anstruther, at their meeting. He was Chairman of the Lifeboat Committee, and while on his way to the meeting he sprained his ankle and had to go home. This meeting had been called for the special purpose of considering the position and the condition of the lifeboat at Anstruther, after the occurrence of last Friday. He was not in a position to say anything about the lifeboat, but he understood there were some fishermen from the north coast present who had had experience of lifeboats, and he hoped that they would be induced to express their opinions. (Applause). He asked that they should have a fair and frank expression of opinion as regards the lifeboat, so that they might not be the slightest doubt as to their attitude, and they might come to a conclusion as to what was to be done. (Applause).

Mr Martin Gardiner said the lifeboat was in the water before he got along on Friday morning, and he could not say very much about her behaviour. The disabled boat was in a very bad position, and while everybody was anxious to render the crew every assistance they had not a proper lifeboat to do so. He had been connected with the lifeboat ever since there was one in the place. He was coxswain of the first lifeboat. She was a very fine boat, and he never lost faith in her. He had not had so much experience of the present lifeboat, but he must say he never liked her at all. He had thought that they should have a service boat at Anstruther as they had in other places, and perhaps some of the Ferryden men present would say whether such a boat was needed for Anstruther. He was told that the service boat at Montrose was as handy as the lifeboat. The present lifeboat was not suited for Anstruther. She was too heavy and clumsy, and so far as his experience in her went he could never do anything with her under oars in heavy weather. It was for the crews that were in the lifeboat on Friday morning to give their views, but if the lifeboat was not serviceable they should not keep her any longer. (Applause.) If the men had lost faith in her they could not keep her. The fishermen of Cellardyke were as brave and daring as any men on the coast of Scotland—(applause) —and as willing and ready to render assistance to save the lives of their fellow men as any. He never saw a man hang back yet. (Applause.)

Skipper James Pratt, the coxswain, said they were not there so much to make speeches as to speak their minds freely. For some years back there had been a drawback in forming crews for the lifeboat. Some time ago it was proposed to have the present lifeboat thoroughly tested on a rough night, but that had never been done, as they had never had the opportunity. He had had some experience of the lifeboat, and his candid opinion was that she was not suited for this coast. The way she behaved on Friday reminded him of a blown-up present lifeboat was of no use whatever to their coast. (Applause.) If a boat cannot be used he did not see how it could be of any use to them. (Applause.)

Mr Martin Gardiner said they would never get men to risk their lives in that lifeboat, and they desired a boat that would do her work in all kinds of weather. (Applause)

Coxswain John Sheriff explained the circumstances as they occurred on Friday morning. There were 12 of a crew, and only three be-longed to this district. He shouted for a volunteer, but no one came, the reason being that the Cellardyke men had lost confidence in the lifeboat and would not go out in her. There were plenty of men standing about the piers, but they had no sooner got the lifeboat away from the piers than she blew about like a bow into the inner harbour. After they got the lifeboat to the east side to the harbour mouth she was blown into the inner harbour again, and neither with the sails nor the oars could they get her out. The boat was not suited to them, and they must have another or none at all.

Skipper Robert Meldrum said he had been connected with the lifeboat from the first. The first boat was a good one, but the present boat was not. He had tried her in all kinds of weather. The last time was with the Inspector but; they could not get her to go the way he wanted. If they had lighter boat with a centre board they could manage her capitally. The present boat was far too heavy.

A Buckhaven fisherman said a boat with a centre board would not do for Anstruther as there was not enough water sometimes. The present lifeboat was right enough, but not suited or Anstruther. In fact it was useless here. Applause).

Rev. Mr Ray said he did not suppose it was unknown what was said about them. It was no secret that it was said that the Cellardyke fishermen were too cowardly to go out in bad weather when there watt a boat in danger. He was glad of that meeting, and to hear what had been said, because it would help to dispel that false opinion about the fishermen of Cellardyke. What affected them affected him. Their good name was his good name, and he was glad that it had been made clear that the reason why the fishermen of Cellardyke did not go out in the lifeboat was not because of any unwillingness to face danger, but solely on account of the unsuitableness of the lifeboat. (Applause.) It was high time not merely that the people of the place should know that, but that the members of the Institution should know it. He heard it stated the other day by a well-known man in Anstruther, an intelligent and well-to-do man in every respect, that the reason why he had refused to give a contribution to the lifeboat in Anstruther was, not on account of any fault he had with the fishermen, but because of his belief that the lifeboat was utterly useless for this coast. (Applause.) He had no doubt if they had a new lifeboat there in which they had confidence, the men of Cellardyke would be as ready to face danger as they had ever proved themselves in the past. (Applause.) If they had a new lifeboat they soon have the local funds largely increased. The fact that the coxswains had lost faith in the boat must induce them to go to the parent institution without any shilly-shallying, but to tell them straight that this lifeboat could not be used by them, and that they must have another and one they could work. (Applauae.)

Mr Henry Watson, solicitor, Anstruther, said while he was glad to be present, he must frankly tell them that the expressions of opinion on the lifeboat had come upon him quite as a surprise. He had been associated with the lifeboat cause for many years, and attended nearly all the Committee meetings for many years, and he must candidly say that this was the first expression of opinion he had heard that the boat was unsuitable. The members of the Committee would bear him out in that. It might have been that last Friday was the only opportunity of testing the boat in face of danger, but they required a boat that would be of service in extremely bad weather. It had been very clearly brought out that the lifeboat was unsuitable both in sailing and under oars on their coast. It had been frequently discussed with the Inspector on his visits as to whether it was worthwhile to have a lifeboat here. This boat had never saved a life, but whether that was because she had not got the chance or was unable to do so he did not know. The very watchword of the Lifeboat Institution was efficiency, and unless the lifeboat was efficient in every respect there was no use having her. He would like the meeting to decide whether they wanted another lifeboat here. If they had only turned out in such large numbers at the annual meetings, and had made similar remarks as had been made to-night they would have had an up-to-date boat long ago. He was certain the parent institution would favourably consider any application from them, as they were anxious to have everything up to date, and to have efficient lifeboats. As to the site of the house it had been brought under the notice of the directors in London, and was still before them. Dr Wilson said he agreed with Mr Ray’s remarks in regard to the slights put on the Cellardyke fishermen. He had heard these over and over again. He had disputed with people and had maintained that there was on the east coast of Scotland no men to compare with the fishermen of Cellardyke. (Applause,) As regards the lifeboat it had seemed to him that the feeling for years had got very lukewarm. Every time the lifeboat has been needed she had been utterly unable to get out of Anstruther harbour. The reason of the lukewarmness of the fishermen towards the lifeboat was, not that they were unwilling to face danger, but because they knew it was an utter impossibility to get her out or the harbour in any gale. A lifeboat was needed there that could go out of the harbour in a south easterly gale. (Applause)

Mr Drysdale, coastguard, concurred in the necessity of getting a new lifeboat. Last September when the boat %muted to go to the rescue of the wrecked steamer Tinto they could not get her out of the harbour. The required a boat that would go out in all gales to save life. He did not think they would get a lifesaving rocket apparatus in Anstruther, as there were one in Crail and Elie on either side of them. He reminded the meeting that he and the other coastguards were to make a house to houses visit for subscriptions for the lifeboat from Elie on to Cellardyke, and he hoped everyone would liberally subscribe.

A show of hands was taken as to whether a new lifeboat was required for Anstruther, and the Chairman declared the vote unanimous. He then asked that a Committee of seven should be appointed to draw up a memorandum to be submitted to the local Lifeboat Committee for transmission to London. Mr William Smith, caretaker of the lifeboat, said he would like to know if they had new lifeboat if the fishermen would come forward and go in her. He had had considerable trouble to get crews over and over again both for exercise and when the boat was needed. The Provost—l have every confidence in our Cellardyke men that if a new lifeboat was got they would come forward when necessary. The following were appointed the Committee: —Rev. Mr Ray, Messrs John Sheriff, James Jack, James Pratt, Wm. Sutherland, Alexander Ritchie, and Martin Gardiner, junr. A vote of thanks to the Provost terminated the proceedings. The Committee afterwards met, and agreed to meet on Saturday night to draw up a memorandum to the local lifeboat Committee for a new boat.


The three towns East and West Anstruther, and Kilrenny, or Cellardyke, form practically one community, but are distinct Royal burghs, with Royal charters. The wonder has often been expressed that they should have continued so long as three distinct municipalities, with separate Town Councils, and the various offices connected with municipal Corporations. At last the question amalgamating the burghs has been brought up, for at a meeting of West Anstruther Town Council last night. Provost Penney said he had been approached by a number ratepayers, and urged to take some steps to have the matter discussed. His suggestion was that a Committee should appointed to meet Committees from East Anstruther and Kilrenny, in order to consider the matter, and see if a basis or understanding could not arrived at, on which to unite the burghs in one. Amalgamation would a great benefit all concerned from a financial and economical point view. The conference would only be preliminary to begin with. One or two members expressed themselves against the proposal on the ground that the taxation was lower in West Anstruther than the other two burghs, and did not see that their burgh would be benefited. Ultimately the Provost’s suggestion was agreed to, and the Provost Magistrates, and Councillor Dickson were appointed the Committee arrange a conference with the other burghs.

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