Old and New Harbours

The text below is from an article published in the Berwick Journal on Thursday 23rd October 1890. It tells the history of the first harbour built in 1832 and the history of the new harbour which was opened on Saturday 18th October 1890.

Extract from the Berwick Journal

One after another the fishing Ports on the Berwickshire Coast have been equipped with capacious and Modern Harbours. Burnmouth Harbour was completed in 1878, at a cost of £9,000; Eyemouth in 1885, at a cost of 25,000, and now Coldingham Shore has followed at a cost of £13,000. Much and long as the want of a sufficient harbour was felt, it was only in 1885, when Mr Andrew Usher, of Edinburgh, purchased the Estate of Northfield, on which the village is built, and there appeared a possibility of an extended harbour being obtained. Prompted by a genuine desire to advance the interests of the people on his Estate, Mr Usher has, since he became Laird of Northfield proved the benefactor, which the Village of Coldingham Shore has long been in want of.

When approached by the Fishermen, shortly after his entering upon possession, for his counsel and aid in a scheme for an enlargement of the harbour, Usher took up the proposal with great cordiality, and not only succeeded in influencing The Scottish Fishery Board to give a grant of £3,000, but himself cheerfully lent, on security of the harbour dues the balance of £10,000 necessary to complete the work.

The real value of this loan will be best understood when we mention that no pressure is made for payment of the stipulated rate of interest, 4 1/2 percent, Mr Usher being content meantime with the harbour dues, amounting, last year to £178, and willing to wait until increased prosperity and a more numerous fishing Community make it possible to meet the terms of the loan. But not only in the matter of harbour extension has Mr. Usher philanthropy been displayed. He was the promoter of a successful scheme of Water supply for the village and having converted the existing leases into perpetual fues easier and more advantageous, he has given the fishermen an inducement to build previously unknown at the Shore, in consequence of which there have arisen handsome and commodious cottages, built with due regard to the uniformity of design and the orderly arrangement of the village. While the Shore has been extended and improved, its beauty has been enhanced by the erection, by Mr Usher, at its North West End, on an eminence known as the "Black Craighead" of an elegant residence, which has been named "Northfield House", and where he hopes to reside for several months of the year. The Mansion is replete with the comforts of modern times including the most perfect system of lighting rooms, grounds and stables by electricity. With his kind consideration for others Mr Usher has extended the electric lighting to the Shore Public Hall.

While thus busily helping forward the temporal welfare of the village, Mr Usher has not been forgetful of the spiritual interests of its people. As is well known he gave his countenance and support to the movement to plant a Free Church Mission at the Shore, which has now been for some time in full working operation, under the Rev. John Munro, a gentleman whose services are greatly appreciated by the villagers. To give permanence to this movement, Mr Usher has granted a site free of cost for a Church, and has also promised liberal pecuniary assistance towards its erection. Few communities are privileged with such a benefactor as Mr Usher, and we are sure the gratitude of a grateful people will be shown in a way that will prove the best acknowledgement he could recieve, namely, by increasing thrift, sobriety and good behaviour. Nor are there any signs wanting of the advancement which must follow the opening, of the new harbour. A Fish Curer having opened curing premises in the village, and arranged for the purchase of the white fish landed there. The fishermen will thus no longer incur the labour and loss hitherto sustained by conveying the fish to Eyemouth for sale. It is recorded that in 1832, the inhabitants of the Shore comprised of sixteen families, who with 20 others residing at Coldingham obtained their livelihood, by fishing. In addition to these, thirty other persons proceeded annually to the North for the herring fishing, which gave employment for the fourteen boats from the village then called "Northfield Shore". The fish caught upon the coast consisted of Cod, which when pickled, were sent to the London market; also haddock, turbot and Lobsters, which were transported in Carts to the Edinburgh markets. There are now about 400 inhabitants in the village.

Fishing from the Port are 4 Deep sea Boats, 20 Herring Boats and 8 Yawls.

The Old and New Harbours

The original Harbour was built in 1832. It measured 120 feet long, 105 feet broad, affording accommodation for only 12 deep sea boats, and cost about £1200, one fourth of which was raised by private subscription; Government supplying the remainder. This harbour was improved at a considerable cost in 1849-50. The New harbour is after designs by Messrs. D and T. Stevenson. C,Eng, of Edinburgh, engineers to the Lighthouse Commissioners; and had been erected by Messrs Alexander Morrison & Son, contractors of Edinburgh. It is constructed of Concrete and while the old harbour has been left as it was two new basins have been formed. The work of building the harbour was greatly assisted by natural advantages offered by rocks lying around it. The inner basin measured 208 feet in length by 130 feet in breadth, and affords accommodation for nearly 30 boats: While the outer basin, measuring 360 feet in length, by 200 feet in breadth, will accommodate nearly 70 boats.

The breadth of the roadway on the quays varies from 16 ft to 9ft 6 inches while the height of the quays above high water is 5 feet. The parapet walls are 8 feet above the level of the Quays. The depth of the water of stream tides is-Inner Basin 15 ft 6 in, Outer basin and entrance to harbour, 20 feet 6 in.

At low water of the same tides the inner basin will be dry, while the outer basin and entrance to the harbour will have four feet of water. At Low water of neap tides the entrance and outer basin will have Eight feet of water. It will thus be possible for boats to leave or enter harbour at any time, except during a short period of stream tides, when an hour before and an hour after low water the harbour will not be available for large boats. From its situation, accommodation, and depth of water, the harbour will serve to a considerable extent the purpose of a harbour of refuge to fishing craft on the East Coast. By fishermen it is well known to offer comparative safe and easy entrance during a Northeast gale, as was demonstrated in the great Storm of 14th October 1881, when all the boats which took this harbour entered it in safety. It is now regarded as the best harbour between Firth of Forth and Shields on account of its safe entrance and having always four feet of water.

The work of constructing the harbour, which began about three and a half years ago, is now completed, excepting the deepening of the entrance which is still proceeding, the operation being of a nature that admits of very slow progress. Throughout, Mr William Nicholson, as Clerk of the Works, representing the Engineers; while Mr George Brown, as Manager of Works, represented the Contractors. Each of these gentlemen discharged with efficiency and success the onerous duties which devolved upon them. From 80 to 100 men have been usually employed at the work, but now the number has fallen to about 20 men.

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