Dunbar and District in old picture postcards

Dunbar and District in old picture postcards

:   Dr. David M. Anderson
:   Lothian, East
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6232-6
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Dunbar and District in old picture postcards'

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39 Hugh White established his joinery and cartwright firm in 1885. In 1913 the company occupied a yard between Lamer and Colvin (once Coffin) Streets. This little family firm was able to make all kinds of vehicles. In the example here, the body has been fitted to the bare chassis. Traditional wheelwrights and coach builders worked alongside mechanics, engineers and metal workers. The skills of journeymen were passed to apprentices, who learnt their trades and became the garage owners and their staff in the next generation. Skilled men were also in demand for the manufaeture of agricultural equipment. From 1804 at the Dun-

bar foundry, Iohn and George Sked supplied steam engines and threshing mills. By the start of this century Thomas Sherriff of West Barns and David Wilson ofEast Linton built an amazing range of

state of the art implements for ploughing and sowing or reaping and packing.

40 The sands at the Bast Beach are conveniently placed. The photograph shows that the bay is cradled by the ridge on which the town sits; it is scarcely 100 yards from the High Streel. It can be seen also that a number of the bigger hotels were near at hand. The Roxburghe and Bellevue are the largest buildings on the horizon. The fine, golden sand is perfect for sandcastles and competitions were held regularly every summer right up to the 1960s. A shallow, shelving spit ran between two rocky arms and provided a safe space for paddling - at least when the sea was calm. The groyne built on one of the rock ridges helps to retain the

sand. These same rocks might be the ones where [ohn Muir found 'invisible, boy-devouring monsters' lurking in the rockpools during the garnes he and his friends played by the seaside. Before the seawall

on the right was built the road to Woodbush, the huddle of small buildings, ran along the sand.


41 The Cats' Row was a curious line of tenements running from Victoria Street to the Broadhaven. This single block housed a considerable proportion of the entire fishing community: This suited the close-knit families very well for many years but the owners seemed to be content to let the properties deteriorate and they were evenmally condemned and cleared away: ota photographs show that a large part of the lives of the residents was spent outside in the street, whether it be household tasks or working at baiting the lines and repairing fishing tackle. Consequently, there are many photographs of the area. A single old building, the Rock

House, stood isolated by itself, on the left above. The story was that this was where [ohn Wesley, the founding father of Methodism, resided when in Dunbar. The chapel stands close to here and is one

of the oldest such worship places in Scotland; it was built in 1764, which means Rock House must have been much older.

Tb.e Ge.ts' Row, Dunbar,

42 Rather than follow the Dawell Brae or Silver Street back uphill to the High Street an inquisitive visitor could take one of the 'doses'. There are many of them. The ones on the west side of the High Street lead only to private gardens but most of those on the east side were comman thoroughfares. As such, they were completely different in character from the wider streets they hnked, evocative of a much earlier time. This photograph clearly shows their structure - a narrow lane beside a wall dividing the tenement lands, flanked with a row of tiny cat-houses or workshops and usually passing under the building that fronted the main street.

Their names recalled function - Old Post Office, Old Bank or Slaughterhouse eloses - or a proprietor - Baillie Simpson's, Bookless' , Logan's or Forrest's Closes, This is Iohnstone's Close and it was also known as the Irish Close, in consequence of the lodging houses (on the right)

used by itinerant labourers.

43 Many of the visitors in the late 19th century would make a point of attending the kirk during their stay and aften visiting divines would be ca1led on to preach a sermon. This fine view of the Established Kirk was origina1ly published in a baak of photographs showing popular local views. By the time postcards came along ten years later the picture was out of date. Local readers will be aware that the eastern end of the kirk was changed by the addition of a protruding, five-sided apse, or chancel. The building itself replaced an earlier kirk and was consecrated in 1 82 1 . The first kirk had stood since

1 342, if not before (there was certainly a church in Dunbar

in 1176), and had grown draughty and dilapidated, It was cleared away and the new one stands on exactly the same site. Many of the gravestones in this picture are still standing. However, the con-

stant wind has eroded all detail from sorne and carved fantastic shapes into others.

44 Barns Ness Lighthouse warns the unwary of the shelving coast at Cat Craig. Once, the keepers stationed here were the front line defenders of coastal traffic, Nowadays it is untended, the light is less powerful and more reliance is placed on technology: However, the coast is still as dangerous and to sailing craft in a northeasterly wind this is a perilous lee share. It has seen countless wrecks. Two Royal Navy frigates, Pallas and La Nymphe, were wrecked here on the same winter night in December 1810, mistaking the fires of Cat Craig and Oxwellmains lime kilns for the May light, in reality much farther away: (This was almast as much a

Ioss as the French inflicted in that entire year.) A generation later the wreek of Le Rodeur of Belgium, bound for Glasgow with a cargo of apples, was remembered even more years later by [ohn Muir. He

does not say if'he remembers the many deaths along the coast that same night on five or six more wrecks.

45 The Lifeboat Station was augmented in 1907 by the stationing of a second boat at Skateraw using a crew from Dunbar. A bazaar raised the noo necessary to purchase a 35 ft Liverpool class baat, the 'Sarah Kay'. The coxswain for both stations was the serving Dunbar coxswain Walt er Fairbairn (standing here), and the training oftwo second coxswains ensured that bath boats were operational at all times. Fairbairn, who came of a fisher family from Cove, retired in 1931 having been 37 years elected coxswain and fifty years on the lifeboats. He won a Silver Medal for gallantry in 1905 and was instrumental in saving over 180 lives in his career. The 'Sarah

Kay' was retained in service until 1943 by which time she was the last sailing and pulling baat in Scotland with 1 6 service launches and 57 lives to her credit. The baathouse was dosed when she went.

46 Even today Cove Harbour is a well-kept secret. A small harbour is tucked in a tiny bay under high chffs. A few close-knit families made their living from the sea. The slope on the inland side of the harbour wall made a convenient place to careen and rep air boats. This picture shows a tunnel running into the cliff; it gave onto ample storage spaces for nets and equipment. The fishermen of this coast had once a reputation as great smugglers (hand in glove with the local merchants, of course). Cove fishers were notorious for their skill in landing, hiding and disposing of brandy, tobacco and other commodities. The customs station was at Dun-

bar and on a dark night, with the excise men far away, nowhere could be better than Cove for landing illicit cargoes from darkened merchantmen standing off the coast. These caves were used

to enhance the tales, but are the more prosaic result of old attempts to work thin coals underlying this end of the county

Ccve Harbour, ~

. ? I I'



neer Dunbcr. 1


47 The dog has seen it all bef are but is still interested, perhaps wondering what might go wrong this time. Cove was already in decline as a working harbour. It had suffered disproportionate losses of boats and men in a few short years. Many were amongst the 189 men lost in the Great East Coast Disaster of October 1881 (in 1917 there were still fifty widows and dependants receiving annuities). Most of the survivors gave up their larger boats and fished close to home. However, as picture 45 shows, one Cove man, Walter Fairbairn, rose above the adversities that had struck his community. The group of fishermen here have turned out to launch one

of their beached cobles. The methad is the same the world over. Same steady the baat and others arrange a set of wooden rollers down the slope. The cable is hauled and the baat slides ponderously

towards the warer's edge, with youngsters scampering to bring rollers from behind to the front as 500n as they are free.

48 This view places the harbour in relation to the surrounding cliffs. It also gives a closer view of the cottages at the harbour, and makes clear their precarious siting. The Berwickshire cliffs lead down to Fast Castle, another place with a murky reputation and tales of smuggling and buried treasure. This stretch of coastline was much frequented by amateur geologists. They

came to follow in the footsteps of the greats whose investigations along the coastal strata laid the basis of the modern science. A route from Siccar Point past Greenheugh and Red Rock to Cove is still walked by first-year students from Edinburgh University. The harbour entrance can be

made out. It took three attempts to build the breakwater, storms taking the first two. But the man bebind the project, Sir [ames Hall of Dunglass, was a determined chap and he tried again, tak-

ing his theme from Bruce and the spider.

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