The Cellardyke Echo – 14/7/2022 – Issue 347


Telegrams were to-hand on Thursday that the “James” of Cellardyke had landed 86 crans on Tuesday at Cullivoe, Skipper James Brunton having thus fished over 200 crans for the fortnight or so. In some cases the engagement is 150, as at Uyea Sound, where the “Reform” of Anstruther, with only fifty crans in the end of the week, was so fortunate as to fulfil her contract by Wednesday. Indeed, the present week has witnessed perhaps the most extraordinary herring harvest thus early at the Island. Thus, at Balta the boats fished so well that some of the merchants had an average of 40 crans, but the luck was shared all round, so gratifying are the advices concerning the Fife crews at the most opposite points of the group—though here and there the gale was so severe as to occasion more or less damage to the nets. As a consequence, barrels and salt are at a premium. Messrs Sharp and Murray sold another thousand barrels this week, and we are not surprised to hear that lot after lot are already changing hands at 4s.

Fraserburgh Sudden Death. David Henderson, aged about 32 years, labourer, from Kirkcaldy, and at present engaged on board a Cellardyke boat, died very suddenly here yesterday morning. Deceased had been drinking heavily lately, and his condition was such that a doctor had to be called in some three days ago. Henderson got up about 1 a.m., and wanted to go out of the window, but on his friends remonstrating with him, he went back to his bed. and almost immediately thereafter expired. He leaves a widow and four children in Kirkcaldy. Death is supposed to have resulted from the bursting of blood vessel the region of the heart.

An interesting export

The other day a consignment of 40 cases, or as many cwt, of dry ling left the station here (Anstruther) to export to New South Wales, to the order of Mr David Corstorphine who lately left Cellardyke to ush his fortunes in this rising province, where he has just opened a general store in Waverley. East of Fife ling, however, have long been a prize tit bit on the tables of Australia.


On Stephen Williamson being elected to Westminster for the Kilmarnock burghs

RECEPTION OF THE NEWS IN ANSTRUTHER. The news of Mr Williamson’s victory was received in Anstruther Coast Burghs on Wednesday in forenoon. The telegram announcing the result was read to a number of people in Shore Street, who at once raised loud cheers for Mr Williamson. Congratulatory telegrams were at once despatched to the hon. member from several persons. The news soon spread everywhere there was a good deal of rejoicing over the victory. The skippers of some of the boats lying in the harbour at once hoisted flags, while from a number of private houses bunting was also displayed. The captain of the schooner Anapira run up a streamer of flags, while one was also suspended from the Chalmers’ Lighthouse by Mr John Parker. In Cellardyke there was a good profusion of flags in James St, and other places.

Aberdeen – A number of yawls from Cellardyke arrived at Point Law to-day, and negotiations were entered into between the crews and curers here, but no engagements were made, the fishermen demanding 18s per cran. which the curers declined give.

FISHERMAN DROWNED This forenoon intelligence was received Anstruther that a young fisherman named Robert Watson, belonging Crail, had been drowned late last night. was one of the crew of the Cellardyke fishing boat Alaska, which left Anstruther Harbour for the north fishing stations. While trimming the sail the vicinity Fifeness he was knocked overboard. Every effort was made to save him, but without avail. He was 20 years of age and unmarried.

(The skipper was David Davidson and the boat had a crew of six, the boat was under full sail, they threw an oar to him but by the time they got the boat round he had disappeared)


Holidays. – With the fishermen out town, business in Cellardyke almost comes to a standstill. So much so is this the case that the merchants, as in former years, have begun this week to close at 6 o’clock in the evening, and observe Wednesday as a whole holiday. In Anstruther and Cellardyke, Wednesday and Thursday first are to be observed as the usual summer holidays.

Large Eggs. – We have had handed to us for inspection two eggs, dropped by hen belonging to Ex Bailie Brown, Cellardyke, which, on account of their size, demand a passing notice. One measures 6¼ inches in circumference, 4 inches in diameter, and within a fraction of ¼ of a lb. The other is 6 inches in circumference, 4 inches in diameter, and weighs 3½ ozs. The hen which acknowledges these eggs doesn’t lay often but when she does lay she seems determined to make a good job of it.

Laying Water pipes in Cellardyke

On Monday the contractor made a beginning in laying water pipes through the streets of Cellardyke. The commencement was made at the head of Tollbooth rd. So far the progress has been easy; but as advance is made along John Street and George street it is anticipated that rock will be largely met with. As traffic just now is at a minimum, interruption won’t be so great as it would have been at any other season of the year.


An Ancient Mariner. — Mr John Baxter, one of the oldest seamen in Fife, died at Cellardyke on Tuesday. He was born at Pittenweem in 1803, or 85 years ago, and took to sea when it was usual to sail to London and even to the Baltic in a smack of 30 tons burden. He had his own share of the dangers of the deep — in particular, he was on board the Anstruther sloop, Janet, which foundered in Largo Bay, when one of his shipmates was drowned. He had also a miraculous escape in the St Laurence, being all but frozen to while clinging for four-and- twenty hours to the rigging in a fearful snowstorm, when the old brig was expected to go to pieces every second. It was, indeed, a terrible experience — one after the other fell into the boiling flood. It is well it is we, not they, who are to be pitied, wept the captain, who died with the cheer of the boat- men in his ear. After a cruise in this and that ocean ship to all parts of the world, he sailed in his own tidy little smack, the Barbara, till, like Othello, his occupation was gone, by the extension of the railway, which left him without even a freight of coals to the East Neuk. He was a fine type of a Scottish sailor, one with little to say, but who knew and did his duty. He lost his eyesight, and was likewise a martyr to one of the most terrible of maladies, but, as he said, he held by an anchor that never slipped in the gale.


This has been a disastrous week at sea, notably with the Buckhaven fleet fishing at Shields. One skipper telegraphs, ” This is one of the blackest days that ever befell Buckhaven. We’ve lost thirty nets, but let us be thankful, others have lost all.” The gale, indeed, was so terrific that seven or eight crews despaired of life till they came to anchor in the Weir. So far as advices are to hand the loss in gear cannot be less than £1200, and comin,’, as it does, on the back of so many misfortunes it will bring only too many to the verge of ruin. The gale was encountered in all its fury by the Cellardyke boats on their way the north, in consequence of which one and all were glad to flee for shelter, in some cases with the loss of sails and spars. As a rule, however, the Fife crews were busy getting their boats and nets ready for the coming venture. The weather was not inviting. “So intensely cold, cried the visitor, shivering in the bleak wind, while at every turn of the street there were the hardy sons of St Peter toiling away with busy fingers, so as to knit the yarn the raip. Being usually in double file the streets had animated look strangely in contrast to what it will be a week or two hence, when these manly faces will be so many leagues afar at sea. But these preparations are never stirring as at the launch of the big boat How strangers came to gaze and wonder, as this and that gallant craft was hoisted on the wheels, and drawn with the same ease as child pulls its toy from the green to the slip, where the traction engine being out of the way, the wire rope of second on the opposite pier sends it dancing like the plaything of a giant on the bosom of the sunny tide. In this way the outfit has sped so well that many, if not most, of the fleet between Cellardyke and St Monance, are expected to sail on Monday. Owing to the gales little or nothing has been done either with the jig or haddock lines this week in the Forth. The Fife boats are returning on every tide from the Irish coast. It has been lost errand, i.e., as compared with the doings in the North Sea. Not so the advices from Shetland, where one day Skipper Pratt landed 100 crans at a haul. His townsman the skipper of the Thistle with one or two others fished their complement, and sailed to the Scottish main. There is a tacit engagement between a number of Fife skippers and merchants in the north, but the price will not be fixed till the boats arrive the station. Mr W. H. Dickson lectured Friday night in Cellardyke Town Hall on “Storm Warnings. ” The address, which was under the auspices of the Meteorological Society, was an interesting resume of the teachings of science, but this busy night the attendance could not be other than disappointing.

The preparations for the great fishing harvest of the year are now well advanced, and boats are sailing with every tide. The east wind in not a few cases has interfered with the arrangements. It is a singular fact that of late years the supply has exceeded the demand, and not a few of our skippers have sent a remittance along with the usual intimations to well-tried hands. On this occasion the number of boats will be fewer than usual. The outfit between Cellardyke and St Monans is 353 boats, which will rendezvous between Stonehaven and Balta. Four years ago the Fraserburgh merchants sailed to Yarmouth in autumn to engage our skippers on the spot at £1 the cran, with £40 to £60 of bounty. These golden days have come and gone, and engagements are not even talked of though not a few have come to an understanding to deliver their herrings at the price of the day as fixed by the auction bell. So far, however, as appearances go, our fishermen have every encouragement to look hopefully forward to the herring sea. Large shoals are hovering on the banks, and boat atter boat is tacking in with a tidy haul. The prices at Anstruther are 12s a cran.


George Dick, son of John Dick, East Forth Street, Cellardyke, has secured the prize of £1 for essay on the Sabbath in connection with the welfare of youth scheme for the Free Church.

Sunday School Excursion

On Wednesday the annual excursion of the Established Church Sunday School of Cellardyke took place. There was a large attendance of scholars and parents from all denominations in addition to the regular scholars. The party were conveyed to Cambo in upwards of 30 carts, and it is estimated that there were present in the perish at one time nearly 1000 people. The weather was delightful, and a very enjoyable day was spent by all. The usual compliments were paid to Sir Thomas Erskine for his kindness.

The Anstruther district is follows : —Cellardyke, 185 boats; St Monans, 90, being the same as at Buckhaven ; Pittenweem, 69. Largo, like St Andrews, has 13, being, with boat here and there as at Crail, 465 in all. This is not a gain, we have so often to record, but a falling off compared with last year

THE HERRING DRAVE. THE RAVAGES OF THE DOGFISH. Little nothing has been done this week in consequence of the gales at sea. It was blowing so hard at the Isles that the boats bore up for Brassy. There was the same stern experience at Eyemouth, but on this side most of the fleet got under weigh, so that the drave is now fairly opened to north and south. Shetland, on which so many hopes were built, is dreary failure. One skipper writes :—” We are fortunate with hundred crans, but, like our neighbours, our drift is sadly crippled the dogfish. On all sides you are told by the luckless folk that it was the misfortune of their lives to come here. We were engaged in the middle of the month, but we were thankful to get leave to take on board our dunnage in the middle of the week.” So it was all round, where it was no rare incident to fill the boats to the gunwale though the greybeards tell you that the pest has seldom if ever been so universal as today. No one can tell the secret of their coming and going. There was time at Peterhead when a couple of thousands had been taken over night by a Cellardyke crew. It was rare sport for rising to a herring light. They were tossed by the ugly black dorsal into the boat without given time, eel like as they are, to strike the fingers. One autumn when the was ringing with the cry, “the herrings in the haiks,” they appeared in such numbers as to brush away the strong lint like spider’s web. At another time they appeared in the Firth when 500 were taken in ten nets in the offing of the Billowness. Their ravages are confined to no single fishing or period of the year. A Cellardyke crew once had 400 haddocks with every fish more less bitten by this greedy pest indeed, “a guid dougfish an’ a flounder ” was said of to be poor man’s feast. There is the same tale the Cornish coast, where 20,000 were once taken in a single net. Nevertheless, they are never so destructive today, as the curious spines in front of the dorsal cut or tear the light cotton like so many knives. They are eaten and dried in the Orkneys, but as a rule they are only so much manure on the East Coast. At the foot of the Vennel the other day it was said one veteran—”Cellardyke, sir, is puirer by £3000 wi’ Shetland, what wi’ torn nets and the loss o’ the June fishing.” In consequence, we said, of the gales the fishing is little else than a blank on the East Coast, but all opinions agree that the outlook has not been so hopeful for years. There is also whisper that an understanding is being come to about the price, though not a few Fife skippers prefer to sell by an agent or salesman from day to day. The prospects continue as encouraging as ever at the entrance of the Forth. From 100 to 500 herrings are being jigged near the May in a single night, and several baskets were likewise fished by the net in the same teeming waters. Once and again our skippers were induced the-signs to make trial to tack for the north.

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