Eyemouth in old picture postcards volume 1

Eyemouth in old picture postcards volume 1

:   W. Lawson Wood
:   Scottish Borders
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5143-6
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Eyemouth in old picture postcards volume 1'

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Emuth, Aymouth, Haymouthe, Emouthe, Eyemouth, the narnes may have changed over the years and perhaps those 'by-gone-days' are finished, but much of the character still remains in the old fishing town of Eyemouth, Nesding at the mouth of the river Eye it is the largest town on the East Coast of Berwickshire and only 5 miles from the Scotland/ England border, where the tradition of fishing and fishermen has long been associated with the safe sheltered bay under the watchful eye of the Fort Point.

There were barracks and a smal! town as far back as Roman times, and was a staging post for when Agricola built the Antonine Wall. Ermine Street joins Eyemouth to Celdingham. The first monastry was built at Coldingham in 837 A.D. by St. Aiden's monks from Lindisfarne (Holy Island), Shortly after St. Ebba established a Nunnery at Coldburgh: St. Abbs Head (now a Nation Nature Reserve). Both places were sacked by the Vikings, however new evidence indicates that it may have been the Scots, The Normans established the first 'Lord of the Maner' ancestors of the Earl of Home (note the names Home Street, Horne Arms Hotel etc.). King Edgar founded the new priory at Coldingham in 1098 and there is a record oftheir land ownership at Eyemouth for the landing and storage of their supplies on the banks of the river. In 1133 the Flernings arrived, expelled by Henry H of England. e.g. Flemington Inn etc., large floeks of sheep were farmed at Redhall and cloth woven at Flemington. There were now so many ships using the harbeur and safe anchorage that harbeur dues were levied for the first time. King David I encouraged the hefring fishing and further encouraged by Alexander In, who introduced the process for fish-curing, Eyemouth became a flourishing port. A very early record

was of the Harbeur Master John Kinghorn in 1214; he was summoned to appear in court at Ayton to answer to a charge of exacting '12 pennies more than was due for the anchorage of a ship at Eyemouth'.

In 1547 it was noted that the Governor of Berwick noticed that an increasing number of French troops were being landed at Eyernouth to join the Scots army. This was reported ro Londen and shortly after the Duke of Somerset visited the town and sounded the depths of the bay, harbour and river, Finding them to be of sufficient depth to hold and shelter a large number of ships, ordered the building of astrong fortress on the promontory north of the bay. It was completed in record time and for the few years that followed was hotly contested by all sides.

In 1550 in the Treaty of Boulogne a condition stated that the fort had to be raised to the ground, but the Duke of Northumberland had it partly rebuilt and the mother of Mary Oueen of Scots had it completed by a French general in 1557. The now fameus 'Battle of the Barefoots' took place when the attacking English were rousted by the Scots and French garrison 'in their bare feet'. The Treaty of Chateau-Cambrais secured the fate of Eyemouth fort, once more destroyed - and once again rebuilt by the French. Queen Elizabeth was so incensed by this that she hurriedly completed the fortifications at Berwick and hastened 8,000 troops and 700 pioneers into Scotland. She made a treaty in Edinburgh on the condition that Eyemouth fort had 10 be utterly destroyed within four days. Over 5,000 men were employed in the task. The fort was never used again.

James VI made Eyemouth a Burgh of Barony in 1597 with the privilege of a free port. Eyemouth then became a

parish in its own right and was no Ionger in the territory controlled by Coldingham Priory, Becoming a 'free port' opened the way for the increase in free trade and the 17th century saw Eyemouth as the centre of a flourishing smuggling trade. The netwerk of wynds and vennels so much a traderaark of the old style fishing village provided underground cellars and secret hiding places for the storage of contraband goeds. At the turn of the century there was said to he more of Eyemouth underground than above.

In 1746 a new harbeur was constructed for the 150 fishing boats now in residenee, and Smeaton constructed the new pier at Gunsgreen.

Gunsgreen House was the centre for the smuggling industry with its massive underground vaults, secret openings behind the fireplaces led down to escape routes and the rooms all had two doors, to enable the smugglers to flee from the Revenue Officers. Legend has it that the subterranean tunnels led as far as Burnmouth, as well as linking to many of the houses in the town. The only exciseman to be everwelcomed in Eyemouth was Robert Burns who had the distinction of being made a Royal Arch Mason in 1787. The following is an extract from his diary dated 19th May 1787: Come up a bold shore and over a wild country to Eyemouth, sup and sleep at Mr. Grieve's. Saturday, spent the day at Mr. Grieve's, made a royal arch mason at St. Abbs Lodge. Mr. William Grieve, the oddest fellow - takes a hearty glass and sings a good song. Take a sail aftel' dinner - fishing of all kinds pay tythe at Eyemouth.

The 19th century saw the steady growth of Eyemouth as a fishing port but on the 14th October 1881 a sudden terrible storm hit the east coast causing Scotland's greatest fishing

disaster. Eyemouth lost 129 men, St. Abbs 3 and Burnmouth 24 as well as many more lost from many other coastal villages up the east coast, leaving in Eyemouth 107 widows and 351 orphans. A tapestry is on permanent display in the Eyemouth Museum. Following the disaster the harbour was deepened and widened and was opened in 1885.

The first lifeboat was launched in 1876 and subsequent boats are testîmony to those that save lives at sea, In 1891 the first train steamed into Eyemouth on 13th April and provided a much needed service for the transportation of fish to the major cities and giving the local inhabitants in this rather isolated area access to a Berwick upon Tweed. Eyemouth has continued to develop over the years. The fishing industry has undergone many changes as weil as the harbour, and tourism is now a very important factor in the local economy. Eyernouth as a seaside village still has many of the attractions that first put her on the map. 'Keep your eye on Eyemouth' was the advice of a French general to Mary Queen ofScots, I can only echo his advice,


Eyernouth Museum, Ian Me. Ivor.

Other reading:

An Old-time Fishing Town: EYEMDUTH <Its History, Romance and Tragedy, By Daniel M' Ivor, 1906.

The harvest ofthe Sea. By Bertram.

Lest we [orget. By Robbie Nisbet.

High tide. By Will Wilson.

1. People are often amused by the name Eyemouth, it is spelled the way it sounds. This curious postcard is an early example of the multiple view format so much favoured by the commercial photographers of the time. This postcard of a mixture of views is undoubtedly from 'Eyemouth'.

2. Old aerial views of towns are quite a rarety. This photograph shows the higglty-pigglty architecture of closely packed houses with their smoking 'lums' , at the turn of the century thought to be quite deliberate at the time to aid in jouking the excisemen, The lifeboat shed can be quite clearly seen at the harbour mouth and Gunsgreen Mansion house, also the old drifters at the harbour entrance.

3. Looking down from the top of Fort Road shows Beach House with two entrances. The field in front, which in later years became a putting green and then the swimming pool, was originally used for the washing and bleaching of clothes at the oid well. Here you can see the fishermen's nets also drying in the sun. Different boats used other places to dry their nets, which could he seen in the fields all the way up to Hallydown Farm.

4. Northburn Farm photographed from the top of Fort Road. The farm once belonged to David Gray. The oid pantile roofed buildings are now all gone, although the farmhouse is much the same today, The large building directly bebind the farm on Northburn Road was formerly the first Auld Kirk in Eyemouth. It was later converted into a garage. A more modem garage still occupies the same land.

5. So much a part of Eyemouth today is the new 'bantry' or promenade which was built to steam the power of those strong North Sea storms from wrecking havoc with the buildings along the warer's edge. This postcard dated 24th March 1906 tells of the storm in this photograph.


6. Wellbraes, now developed for further houses was the original site of the Roman barracks and stables. The barracks were used to isolate victims of a cholera epidemie which swept through the town in 1849, killing over 100 people. The houses were previously the Coastguard Houses. The tall chimney in the foreground is the former gasworks. Gas metres in those days were operated by the old penny in the slot, and was introduced in 1847.

'l, Few of the early postcards of Eyemouth beach feature people at leisure. The predominant feature was always the fishing fleet waiting to enter the harbour, The beach was also much more rocky, but the position of the new harbour has increased the level of fine sand on the beach. The drifters are seen here waiting on the tide rising to enter the harbour.

8. This is the best example of early beach life in Eyemouth. Photographed and posted in 1905, it shows the early harbour wall and pier head. Building sandcastles was just as popular then, The poles in the background are the masts from the early steam drifters. Rows of barrels line the pier head.

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