Sunday, 26 January 2014


Amble was originally located well to the south of the mouth of the River Coquet, however in March 1764, the river below Warkworth changed its course due to heavy rain. The river sought its most direct route to the sea and broke its banks across a broad meander and as a consequence Amble found itself less than one third of a mile from the new river mouth.
In 1204 the spelling used was Ambell’ and by 1610 it was Anbell’. However by 1769 The modern name of Amble was being used. The name Amble is generally accepted to mean ‘Anna’s Bill’ or ‘Anna’s Promontory’.  For a short time in the 1980’s Amble was officially known as Amble-by-the-Sea, however this was dropped in 1985 and the town reverted back to being called Amble.

Amble owes much of its growth and early prosperity to the 19th century coalfields from which it used to ship coal to southern England and the Continent. As collieries were opened; Amble’s location at the mouth of the River Coquet, and its railway links to the Northumberland coalfields, made it a centre for the transportation and export of coal.  Prior to this development the town was little more than a hamlet. The principle local mineworkings were those at Broomhill  and at Radcliffe. Today, the collieries in Northumberland are all closed (the last, Ellington, closed in 2005), and the railway no longer serves Amble.
Other industries, such as ship building and repair, and sea fishing, expanded with the growth of the town, although traditional Northumbrian fishing vessels such as cobles have sheltered in the natural harbour here for many centuries previously.
To the north of the town, along the riverside land known as The Braid was originally the site of a shipyard. Boat building began in Amble at the end of the 18th century when the ‘Chevington Oak’ was built with wood from nearby Chevington Woods. There was also a joinery yard and sawmill on the Braid on the site where the Marina Arms now stands.


The harbour had a brickworks, boatyards, and an extensive network of high-level railway lines serving timber coal staithes around the harbour at the Radcliffe and Broomhill Quays. The town’s railway station was built in 1878 and was approached by a sloping ramp from Church Street.In the 1930s, when the RMS Mauretania was heading on her last voyage to the breaker's yard at Rosyth, the town council of Amble sent a telegram to the ship saying "still the finest ship on the seas". The Mauretania replied with greetings "to the last and kindliest port in England"




Today, Amble is Northumberland's most important fishing centre north of the River Tyne. The fishing industry survives, although it has reduced numbers of vessels now, as does a small marine industry - mainly concentrated around the construction and repair of yachts and other pleasure craft. Leisure sailing has also become important and, as well as the marina, the town has a vibrant yacht and boat club. A small industrial estate is located to the southwest of the town, whose clients include food processing plants, vehicle repairs and telecommunications companies. Amble also has a number of good shops including Tesco and Boots, gift shops, and many pubs and fast food outlets. Tourism now forms an important sector of Amble’s economy. Part of the harbour was redeveloped into a marina with secure berths for 250 vessels which opened in 1987. The outer boundary of the marina incorporates one of the original timber jetties from the early harbour as part of the old river bed was reclaimed during construction.  





Sunday, 19 January 2014

Eyemouth, Scotland

Eyemouth is a small town  Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders with a population of about 3,420 people (2004).

The town's name comes from its location at the mouth of the Eye Water. The Berwickshire coastline consists of high cliffs over deep clear water with sandy coves and picturesque harbours. In the main it is a fishing port, although notable buildings in the town include Gunsgreen House and a cemetery watch house built to stand guard against the Resurrectionists (body snatchers). Many of the features of a traditional fishing village are preserved in the narrow streets and vennels – giving shelter from the sea and well suited to the smuggling tradition of old.

Eyemouth Harbour

The life of the historical hero of the town, William Spears (1812–1885), is celebrated by the dramatic bronze statue in Eyemouth Market Place, where he stands pointing the way to Ayton, the scene of his peaceful demonstration. At great personal risk, Spears led a revolt against the tithes on fish levied by the Church of Scotland, even after the great Disruption of 1843 when most fishermen left the established Church to join other congregations.
Very soon after the cost of getting the tithes removed had been met, the town was struck by the Eyemouth Disaster when on 14 October 1881 most of the fishing fleet, some 20 boats and 129 men from the town were lost in a terrible storm. Including victims from other coastal towns, a total of 189 men lost their lives. This is commemorated in the Tapestry housed in the Museum.


A contemporary article offers an interesting insight into Eyemouth in the 1860s:
"Between Abbs Head and Berwick, however is situated Eyemouth, a fishing-village pure and simple, with all that wonderful filth scattered about which is a sanitary peculiarity of such towns.
The population of Eyemouth is in keeping with the outward appearance of the place. As a whole, they are rough, uncultivated, and more druken in their habits than the fishermen of the neighbouring villages. Coldingham Shore, for instance, is only three miles distant, and has a population of about one hundred fishermen, of a very respectable class, sober and well dressed, and "well to do." – The Fisher Folk of the Scottish East Coast, "Macmillian's Magazine" No.36 October 1862.
The wide sandy bay is flanked by high cliffs. Despite being sheltered by the Hurkur Rocks, storms can generate high waves and throw high plumes of spume into the air over the sea wall. Named "The Bantry" said to be in affectionate memory of the Irish labourers, from the fishing town of that name in County of Cork, who constructed it.


In 1997, Eyemouth was given EU funding from a scheme to regenerate declining fishing villages and raised matching funds itself to construct a deep water extension to the Harbour. Eyemouth Harbour caters for most types of fishery activity and as a result Eyemouth's primary industry has seen a certain amount of rejuvenation. A pontoon has been installed in the harbour to provide ease of boarding for seafarers. This has attracted an increasing number of pleasure craft. Walks round the harbour never fail to interest. This is a real working fishing port and the scene is constantly changing.

Feeding the Seals