The Cellardyke Echo – 2/5/24 – Issue 440


MELANCHOLY OCCURRENCE TO A CELLARDYKE BOAT. MORE LOSS OF LIFE. Last week a telegram in our columns announced the loss of another Cellardyke fisherman, being the fifth in the course of the present year; but it is now our painful duty to supply the particulars of this distressing event, and also the miraculous escape of others of the crew. On Wednesday (the 21st), and at a point on the North Sea, not less than a hundred and ten miles from the Isle of May, the Cellardyke deep sea going boat “Garland,” Adam Watson, master, was busy with her big lines, when an hour or two of a deceitful calm was followed by one of the most violent southerly gales of the season. Every sailor knows how in the spring months the sea appears to anticipate the wind, so quick does it rise to the whistle of the gale, and thus within the hour nothing was to be seen on the unbroken wilderness of waters but tumbling breakers and driving spray on which the lurid canopy appeared to rest, as if black with the shadow of destruction and death. Clinging to the last hope of saving their fishing gear, the crew of the “Garland” held to their lines, till seeing the struggle fruitless, they like the rest of the squadron, slipped the remnant and bore away to the land. It was a race for life, so fierce was now the conflict between wind and wave, but the gallant craft swims like a seabird in the storm. The moment required it, and every precaution was taken. The veteran skipper at the helm, and each of the crew, like a faithful sentinel, stood at his post. In particular, the foresheet, led up from the belaying pin to windward, lay to the hand of Thomas Watson; while his comrade, David Watson, was busy on the lee gunwale shipping the “range” or guard ropes, when a tremendous sea, hovering for a moment in the distance, burst like a cataract over the boat. Thomas Watson let go the sheet—it was the last act of a heroic life—it saved the boat, but that instant the strong man was swept sway like a withered leaf in the autumn gale. David Watson clung to the stay, but the same fatal sea struck him like the blow of some giant hand from his hold, and he also was cast as a prey to the billows. Nor does the disaster end here, as another of the crew, John Stewart, was driven along the deck with such terrible force that his leg was broken against a projecting plank, but in all probability it saved him from a sadder fate. So destructive, indeed, was the sweep of the wave, that a chain, weighing at least four hundredweight, was washed like a piece of driftwood aft to the stern-sheets. But what of the perishing mariners in this terrible interval? Thomas Watson was soon called away from the struggle, but he seemed to meet his fate with the calm intrepidity of one whose anchor holds fast in heaven. His companion, David Watson, now began one of the most resolute and gallant efforts at self-preservation in the annals of the sea. A friendly hand in the boat had thrown out an oar, which he was so fortunate to seize, along with a small spar. His next movement was to form them into a cross, which became to him an ark of refuge during the full three-quarters of as hour he was cast away at the mercy of the storm. In the meantime, the disabled crew were doing and daring to the utmost for his succour, but every attempt seemed to end in heart-sickening failure till for the fifth time the boat was headed towards him, when he was takes on board all but exhausted by the dreadful ordeal of exposure and hardship through which he had passed. Without lingering further on the sufferings of the crew, suffice it to say that the “Garland” arrived at Anstruther harbour at an early hour on Friday morning, when no time was lost in placing John ‘Stewart, whose right thigh had been broken in the gale, in the hands of Dr MacArthur, who was also called upon to unburthen her sad loss to the young widow.


ANSTRUTHER. Presentation. — Mr William Gillis, officer of fisheries here, being promoted to Leith, his friends in Anstruther and Cellardyke have presented him with an elegant gold watch and chain in recognition of the admirable manner in which he has acquitted himself during the all but twenty years he has held the appointment at Anstruther.


A meeting in connection with the Blue Ribbon Army, lately introduced into Cellardyke, was held in the Forth Street Hall on Friday evening last. There was a large attendance. Es-Provost Martin occupied the chair, and briefly introduced the speakers, concluding by entreating all, for the sake of themselves, their families, and those in whom they were interested, to take the pledge that night.


James Wallace, fisherman, Cellardyke, was charged at the instance of the Kilrenny School Board with grossly and without reasonable excuse failing to educate his son John, who is between eleven and twelve years of age. He pleaded not guilty, when Mr John Barbour, teacher, Cellardyke, deponed that the lad had only made 154 attendances out of possible of 314, and that he was not farther advanced than the third standard, that is in the situation of child say in his ninth year. For his defence the panel urged that he did everything in his power to coerce the boy to attend the school, but Mr Murray said that this did not relieve him from his responsibility as a parent, and after some judicious remarks in the same key by Provost Anderson, he was found guilty, and fined in the sum of 5s.—Another Cellardyke fisherman, named David Brown, was charged with a similar offence in the case of his daughter Euphemia, also of eleven years of age. Her attendance, according to the teacher, was still more irregular, but the panel pleaded that the girl had been required home like others in his circumstances to wait on her mother during confinement, and also that she had been suffering from a sore throat, although in his own words, “It is poverty that has brought me here, in so far that for a time the girl had been kept from school because of the want of clothes and shoes. No man,” he said, was more anxious to have his children educated: but times had been so bad with him and his that he had been thankful to see his children with bread, not to speak of schooling.” Provost Watson defended the course taken by the School Board, when the panel was likewise convicted, and fined in the sum of 5s.

As resolved at the public meeting, the four delegates for Cellardyke to the great Fishery Exhibition were chosen by “lot” from the list named by the deep-sea going crews on Saturday. Unfortunately. however (for reasons but too well understood in the locality) only twelve, or less than one fourth of the deep sea going crews, took part in the nomination , or rather the voting, which resulted in the election of Skippers John Carstairs , Robert Davidson, Robert Montadore, and John Pratt.


The salient business of the night was in reference to the water supply question, which has entered on an entirely new and critical aspect in consequence of the analysis of the public wells by Professor Stevenson Macadam as ordered at last meeting. The report was submitted by Mr Sharp. Without (Altering into technical details, suffice it to say that the first of the three samples, to wit that from the copious spring pierced the other year above Cellardyke church—though full of organic particles held in mechanical solution, and actually colourless—was not only saline and hard, but so tainted with putrescent matter so as to be unsafe for domestic use. The famous old-world well at the Urquhart Wynd and the new pump at Kilrenny were of the same composition; but in their case the presence of secret poison, so to speak, was such that it was dangerous, according to the analyst, even to use them to wash dishes in which milk or other food was to be kept. Independently, however, of the “nitrates and ammonia” with which the wells were charged, the Professor urged the Local Authority to search at once for a new supply, if only for economical reasons in such essential duties as cooking and washing in the every-day life of the community.

Sea Luck.—The old saying that “there are as good fish in the sea as ever were taken out of it was curiously verified on Anstruther pier the other day. It seems that the “Benjamin” on board the Cellardyke boat “Vivid” was beguiling the “Watch” while fishing for herrings in the North Sea with the “Murderer” —that is a long plummet bristling all round with hooks and worked precisely like the well-known jig or dandy line —when it became entangled with what proved to be a magnificent halibut, weighing about seventy lbs. The prize, coming like the rest of the take under the Hammer of our worthy townsman, Mr Bonthron, realised to the youthful captor the tidy little sum of 22s 6d.

Burgh Court—An Unruly Souter and Heedless Carters. —At a Burgh Court, in Cellardyke on Friday—the Provost and Bailie Smith on the bench—a young shoemaker residing in Anstruther, Robert Drummond, was charged with disturbing the peace in the house of Mr George Watson, Forth Street, by cursing and swearing, and threatening the inmates while under the influence of drink, three previous convictions being recorded against him. He pleaded guilty; but in respect of the very black complexion of the case, he was fined in 30s or the option of a month in jail.

Two carters, belonging to the town, John Elder and Alexander Carmichael, were prosecuted under the Lindsay Act, for leaving their horses and carts unattended in the street. They admitted the charge, and after pointed warning not to repeat an offence only too common amongst local carters, but so fraught with danger to the public safety, they were each fined in the sum of 5s ,

The fishing boat Anapira, of Cellardyke, which put into Leith on Friday . with fish for the Edinburgh market, had on board a shark, about 4ft. in length, which has been caught in the Firth of Forth.

The Snowdrop, of Cellardyke, again landed the magnificent haul of 68 halibut, 72 ling, 450 cod, 20 saithe, 192 codlings, 35 big and 40 small skate, which yielded the tidy little sum of £44 8s. 6d.

The white fishing has been so far very productive at islands, one Cellardyke crew at Balta having earned £50 in a single week. Within the last few days several splendid additions have been made to the east of Fife fleet. The building yard of Cockenzie, on the other side of the Forth, sent a first-class boat to Cellardyke and another for St Monans, Councillor Fulton, of Pittenweem, launched the Ocean Herald for a townsman, while Councillor Jarvis here has turned out the Onward, of Cellardyke, and the Mary Anderson, of Pittenweem. The last is the admiral ship of the coast, being fifty-eight feet in length. We also note that she has been riveted through and through with half-inch bolts, and in other respects also she is a decided step in advance. This fine craft, however, is still on the old-world lugger rig, with a spread of canvas in foresail, mizzen and jib of 532 yards.

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