The Cellardyke Echo – 23/03/2023 – Issue 381


Before the Magistrates of West Anstruther on Saturday—a carter lad, named Fleming, in the employment of Mr Cormack, fish-merchant, Cellardyke, was accused of furious driving near the Railway Station, but as the charge was only sworn to by a single witness, the bench dismissed the case as not proved.—Another young Cellardyke carter, Robert Pattie, was charged with a similar offence, but here Mr Guthrie, the Fiscal of Court, obtained a conviction, when the panel was fined in the sum of 7s 6d.—James Brunton, fisherman, Cellardyke, was charged with a breach of the peace, but on evidence being led, the averments of the complainers, George Elder and his father, went to show that the altercation was so much of a family quarrel, in which it was impossible to say who was worse, that the Ballies dismissed the charge.

Furious Driving. – Everyone can understand that the value of herring, or fish in general very much depends on the expedition with which they can be sent to market, hence the rush on all sides to overtake the first train. Carters, however, at least, so think the authorities, occasionally exceed discretion, and the safety of the lives and limbs of the lieges, especially when an accident does occur, as it did the other day to an orphan boy named Drummond who had his foot run over near the Post-Office. Thus, on Friday last, before the East Anstruther Ballies, Alexander McRobie and David Parker, carters, Anstruther, and David Scott, carter, Cellardyke, were charged under the Lindsay Act with furious driving on the occasion of the accident referred to. They severally denied the charge, when three neighbour wives were called to prove the complaint. According to this testimony, the misfortune of the boy bad happened, not through the fault or recklessness of the drivers, but by the “shying” of one of the horses, and altogether the proof was so confused and unsatisfactory, that the panels were dismissed with a reprimand from the bar.


After a day or two of bright, and even genial sunshine, the wind again became tempered with frost on Sabbath. On the following day was still more intense, and as if to complete the wintry aspect of the picture, snow fell thickly with the gathering twilight. Towards morning the frost became keener than ever, and where not crispy with the snow, the ground rang like irorf under the feet, but the brilliant sunshine soon altered the hue of the landscape, when night was only needed to make the reign of the frost supreme as ever. Monday the gale was so high that very few of the boats ventured to sea, but on the following night general trial was made in the Forth for herring bait for the great line fishing. The six Cellardyke boats that sailed last week for Shetland had a splendid run to the islands, making the trip from port to port in fifty hours.

Intelligence was received here the other day that Captain James Webster, of the ship Mary Stenhouse, of and for Liverpool from Calcutta, died on the 16th January in the Indian Ocean, where his body was consigned to sailor’s grave, James Webster was a native of Cellardyke. He served his time as carpenter in Dundee before taking to shipboard, where his success is another illustration of what a sailor’s destiny may be. He was about fifty-five years of age, and has left a wife and family to mourn his loss.


OBSTRUCTING BTHE HARBOUR ENTRANCE. The Clerk also stated that he had received two verbal complaints from Peter Murray, skipper, as to boats lying in the fairway at the entrance to the old harbour, whereby his boat was prevented from getting inside the harbour, besides sustaining damage. This occurred on two different occasions lately—once when, being out at sea and the weather very stormy, his mast was broken, and he came into the harbour to procure another mast. On reaching the mouth of the old harbour, he found the fairway blocked up with boats, so that he could not get near the quay to ship another mast which he had lying at a particular place. He wished the harbour-master to get the passage cleared, but failed to get this done for him. As he wished to go out to sea again to recover his gear, which he had left at sea, he applied to another person for the loan of a mast which lay near the entrance, and was thus put to great inconvenience and loss of time. On the second occasion, on coming into the harbour he found the fairway again blocked, and in trying to get his boat into a berth, had got it damaged by colliding with other boats, the repairs costing about 5s.  He (the Clerk) had thought it right to get the harbour-master’s statement of the affair, and he was now in attendance to give any explanation. The Harbour-master said on the occasion first alluded to the harbour was very crowded, there being more than 200 boats in it. They had mostly come in with the flood tide, and the skippers seemed anxious to keep as near as possible the entrance in order to get out early when the tide came in. He said on that occasion Skipper Murray wanted him (the harbour-master) to send the bell through Cellardyke in order that those who had their boats lying there might come and remove them, in order that Murray might get in. It was at eleven o’clock at night, however, when there would be great difficulty in doing this; so, in order to allow Murray to get a mast to go to sea again, he suggested to him to haul his boat to the entrance quay, and to carry the mast which he had borrowed along the quay to that spot, which was done. He denied that the fairway was completely closed up, for there was a passage left about a breadth and a half of a boat. He knew he was empowered to employ men at the expense of the owners of boats to remove them out of the fairways or where they blocked up the traffic, if persons were not left in charge of the boats; but he could not get men at that time of night, and had to do the best they could when such a crowd of boats were in the harbour. He added, that not-withstanding the great number of boats frequenting the harbour this season, there had been little or no obstruction or hinderance in it.

At the Fishery Exhibition shortly to be held in Edinburgh, not the least interesting exhibits will be those of Mr Peter Thomson, general merchant, Cellardyke. The idea is a novel one, as it seeks to give a practical illustration of the dress, or attire, to the last detail of the seafaring men of the coast, which Mr Thomson proposes to do by three life-size models of the Cellardyke fisherman, as at sea, on shore, and at church.


CELLARDYKE. FISHERMAN DROWNED. —Within less than a week a second calamity has befallen the shores of Fife in the loss at sea of Thomas Pratt, one of the crew of the deep-sea boat “Phoenix” of Cellardyke. In the twilight of Monday they were about to cast their nets about a mile in the offing of when the unfortunate young man, without any perceivable cause, lost his balance end fell overboard. His comrades sprang to the rescue. but, in the very act of cheering him in his gallant efforts to swim, they saw him give a convulsive stroke and sink into a watery grave. The “Phoenix” then returned after an absence of less than two hour. to the shore. ( The previous week it was reported that ex pat Dykers, David and Robert Boyter had drowned in an accident in Canada)

Ransom Price of Fish. – The tempestuous weather has seriously checked the sea doings of the week. Gale followed gale from the southward, but nevertheless the crews gallantly put to sea—now with net, now with line, and in some cases, at least, their devotion was not in vain. On Wednesday night tar barrels were blazed to warn boats from attempting Anstruther harbour, being the second signal of the kind this week; but one Cellardyke boat, the Water lily, safely ran the gauntlet, and realised not less than £27 for her deep sea haul. Several boats bore away for Newhaven, but this may be said to have closed the market on the Fife coast for Good Friday, in anticipation of which fish have sold as they never sold before Anster pier—cod fetching 6s and ling -7s 6d a piece in the auctions Wednesday. By the evening in question about forty takes had been sold here, , ranging from£5 to  £20.At St Monans  several sales have also taken place in the course of the week, but the doings are in marked contrast to those of the previous one, when some crews in particular earned from £15 to £80.


The rapidly increasing population of Cellardyke has led to a proportionate increase in the trade of the town, and a few details as to the present state of the staple trades may not be unacceptable to our readers.

MESSRS SHARP & MURRAY. This firm, in addition to their large fish Curing establishments at Anstruther, Aberdeen, and elsewhere in the north east coast of Scotland, made an early start in the manufacture of nets. A large and well-lighted factory was erected at the foot of the Windmill Road, and since its erection a large business has been done. At present there are 18 net looms in operation, all of the newest construction. The demand for nets made in Cellardyke is so good that all the machines are constantly kept going. In addition to the net factory, Messrs Sharp & Murray have a large establishment for the manufacture of oilskin and fishing material, for which there is always a large demand. Independent of their fishcuring and general business, the firm have about 50 persons regularly employed.

R. WATSON CO. The net factory of this firm is about to be enlarged in consequence of the increased demand. At present there are only nine machines, or net looms, but that number will shortly be doubled, and the number of nets prepared will then from 40 to 50 per week. As in the other net factories, the machines are of the most recent construction, and their complicated nature may be inferred from the fact that there are 2500 small pieces in each machine. A great deal of the work is done by steam power, a steam engine of 4 horse power being on the premises. In one of the rooms there are boilers for barking the nets, and we were informed that above 1000 lbs. could be barked at one dip. The premises of the firm are being added to by a large addition on the west side. The firm also prepare every description of fishing lines. The premises, which are almost all new, have been fitted up with a due regard to the health and comfort of the workers, the different apartments being all very clean, well-aired, and lighted. The oilskin manufactory is in the Urquhart Wynd. Here the different oilskin garments are oiled, dried, &c., and the present accommodation, which is in course of being enlarged, is capable of allowing 500 dozens to be hung up. The extra accommodation to be provided will admit of room for fully another 100 dozen. Messrs Watson & Co. also do a large trade in the manufacture of bladder buoys. The firm employ about 50 hands.

MESSRS JOHN MARTIN & CO. This firm employ a large number of women, who are kept in constant work in the manufacture of every description of fishing material. Lines suitable for nearly every port in the northeast coast of Scotland are sent out ready for casting into the sea, and all sorts of oilskins are also made on the premises, which are very extensive and conducted on the most approved principles.

THE CELLARDYKE OILSKIN FACTORY. Under the above designation, the recently constituted firm of Duncan & Black propose to add somewhat to the industries of Cellardyke. They lately acquired the business and plant of a large net manufacturing firm in Leith, which they are at present carrying on vigorously, and it is intended, we believe, to transfer the plant to Cellardyke, in a range of new premises about to be erected on the site adjoining their present in James Street, and which was long occupied as an oilskin factory by the late Mr Horsburgh and his son-in-law, Mr Wm. Duncan. In this factory it is proposed to place in the meantime seventeen net looms, but accommodation is to be provided for more when necessary, and the works are expected to be in full operation in July next. In addition to net manufactory, Messrs Duncan & Black carry on a large trade in every kind of oilskin and fishermen’s lines, and the additions now about to be made sill afford a good deal of employment in Cellardyke.


REMARKABLE ESCAPE FROM DROWNING. Stonehaven, Thursday. A severe south-south-west gale was blowing during the morning, and the sea was running high, being driven into clean smoke by the force of the wind, A number of Cellardyke boats caught in the gale put in here during the day. The crew of the “Endeavour,” KY., 2052, George Moncrieff, skipper, reports the providential escape of one of their number from drowning. While about 2 miles off Crawtouness some additional sail was being put out, when a lad named Michael Pratt, who was assisting in the work, was struck by the fore yard, and knocked overboard. Another of the crew, named Peter Muir, observing what had happened, threw a rope to Pratt, and a coil happening to go round his neck, he was towed along with the boat through the rolling sea. Pratt having got hold of the rope with his hands, attempts were made with a boathook to pull him aboard, but each time his clothes gave way, and he was in eminent danger of being drowned. Ultimately a rope was passed round one of the lad’s legs, and in this way he was hauled aboard. On landing Pratt was taken to a house in the Old Town, and Dr Edmond was called to attend him. He is not yet out of danger.

CELLARDYKE BOATS IN PERIL AT MONTROSE. Early yesterday morning the wind blew in variable gusty blasts between the south and west, and so continued until far on in the morning, when it partially abated. Two KY boats, numbering respectively 1651 and 1453, entered the harbour. The former did so without assistance, and had a shot valued at £11; but the latter had been put to great stress by the violence of the gale. She was shortly after midnight within two miles of Anstruther, from which she hails, when the gale struck her fiercely, split her foremast, and drove her struggling and almost helpless crew far north Montrose Bay, where they succeeded in anchoring, and from which they were safely brought into the harbour the steam-tug.

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