Fishing Boats and Fisher Folk


The Moray Firth consists of a triangular shape piece of water extending from Duncansby Head in the north to Kinnaird’s Head in South.

 Broadsea, about a quarter of a mile to the west of the Lighthouse is a small rocky bay known as Broadsea,  the old “seatoun of Fraserbrugh.  The coast continues low and treeless with ledges of rock stretching out a quarter of a mile in some places.

SandhavenSandhaven and Pitullie.  Ahead of us like the adjacent villages of Sandhaven and Pitullie.1  Both of them are now very much decay. The harbour of 14 acres built in 1830 by St John Forbes of Pitsligo at a cost of £4205, lies neglected. The old curing stations are abandoned.  Once there were prosperous shipbuilding yards here. Today industry is dead.2 No boys are going to sea and of the thirty-three fishermen who are left who still try to earn a living in the twenty small sailing boats few of them are under fifty years of age.

2 miles west of Pitullie whose general appearance and situation is not unlike that of Inverallochy or Cairnbulg,  as will be noticed in the sketch of its fisher homes and shore,  we come to Rosehearty.3It is difficult to realise that 70 or 80 years ago this now somewhat derelict fishing village, was a serious rival to Fraserburgh.  But such is the case. It is one of the oldest seaports on the coast of Scotland, it’s history going back to the 14th or 15th century, when the colony of days settled on the low promontory jutting into the Moray Firth.

 In 1681, it was created a burgh

In the New Statistical Account (Vol. xxii, p. 396) we are told but in 1839 there were seventy-three fisher families here, are not during the herring season the little harbour was crowded with drifters.White fishing was also carried on; cod, skate, ling, saith and “poodlies” being caught. Most of it was sold in the neighbourhood, the surplus sent to Edinburgh and Glasgow.  In the month of March a number of Rosehearty boats always sailed to the west coast I’m finished of cold and Tyree for cod and ling, which they carried to Glasgow, returning home with coal in time for the summer herring fisheries.  The bait used for the line fishing here had to be brought all the way from Tain or Dundee.  At that time, the Rosehearty fisherman paid “teinds” of £1 to the proprietor.

 There are two harbours here the old harbour formed up to stone piers, is two acres in the extent.  RoseheartyIt is shown in the illustration, which was made from the end of the South Pier looking west. Port Rae Harbour lies to the east and has an area of ten acres, and during the herring season forty years ago was scarcely large enough for all the drifters which landed their fish here for the twelve curers of Rosehearty.4 The old fisherman of Rosehearty,5 like most of their brothers along this coast, attribute the decline of the white fishing to the coming of the steam trawler. They will shake their heads I’ll tell you there are no shoals of haddock off the coast like there used to be when they were young.

1 Pratt’s Buchan, p.286

2 40 years ago there were forty-six boats belonging to Pitullie  and ninety-one fishermen.  In 1855 the number of men and boys fishing from two villages was as many as 170

3 Cf. Pratt’s Buchan, p.286

4 In 1855 there were as many is 232 fishermen belonging to the port, a fleet of sixty-five boats.  In 1880 the number of fisherman was 186; the boats eighty-eight.  Before the war Rosehearty owned thirty-three drifters;  in 1929 there were eight steam drifters here, nine motorboats, I’m twenty-two sailing craft, making a total of forty-four fishing craft.  The number of fishermen stood at 176.

5 Among the most common names are Ritchie and Duthie

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