2021 © Newhaven Heritage Centre
The Newhaven Heritage Centre is recognised as a Scottish registered charity No SC044837.
Inspired by the past to build a better future together
Supported by Newhaven Action Group which is recognised as a Scottish registered charity: OSCR Number: SC042050
From time immemorial, the fishermen of Newhaven had taken oysters from the abundant beds of the Forth. For centuries they were a staple food of the poor. They were dredged from the beds (or scalps) by dragging a large rake at a 35° angle from their open boats which were rowed up and down.
In the late 18th century they became very fashionable and proved to be a rich bounty for fishermen along the south coast of the Forth. It was reputed that the best oysters came from the beds that Newhaven fishermen controlled and there were often skirmishes with other fishermen from neighbouring communities.
Legal fights with Edinburgh’s city fathers were even more rancorous -
Traditionally oysters were only harvested from October to May. However, Newhaven’s fishermen were fully engaged in their occupation throughout the year. Their catch was seasonal -
As their quarry became more elusive, the fishermen travelled ever further sailing or even rowing 35-
However, Newhaven’s harbour proved too small as the trawlers got ever larger and adjacent Granton provided a more suitable haven for the fishing fleet.
Whaling had always been an alternative occupation for the young skilled fishermen of Newhaven and the reputation as oarsmen kept them in high demand with the Arctic whalers. Whales were caught using small boats and hand-