A Brief History of Eyemouth
Eyemouth (historically spelt Aymouth) is a small town and parish in Berwickshire, in the Scottish Borders. It is two miles east of the main north-south A1 road and just 8 miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, with a population of about 3,420 people (2004).
It gets its name from the Eye Water flowing into the North Sea, and the natural harbour, formed by the river mouth, has been used as far back as the 1200s and probably much further. The promontory above the bay, which is known as ‘Fort Point’ was fortified in 1547 by invading English troops and again in 1557 by French forces acting on behalf of the Scottish king. The two lines of ramparts, with bastions and gun emplacements, can still be traced in the grass-covered earthworks.
Fishing played a vital part in the local economy as early as 1298; but there has also been tragedy. On 14th October 1881 a sudden and ferocious storm blew up while the fleet was out at sea, and 129 men from Eyemouth lost their lives. That day was named Black Friday. The harbour was planned to be upgraded, but the disaster cancelled these plans, and it wasn’t until 1965 that the harbour and major alterations in 1965, followed by the building of a deep water basin. In the Eyemouth Museum there is a tapestry, designed to commemorate the Eyemouth Disaster.
In the 18th and 19th centuries. Eyemouth was notorious as a centre for smuggling. Duty had to be paid not only on luxury items but on everyday goods such as coal, salt, candles and tea, so both the rich and the poor were involved in this illegal trade. As the Scottish port nearest the continent Eyemouth became a natural place for the illicit import of spirits and other goods. One report suggested that the roof space of Gunsgreen House overlooking the harbour was regulary used to store smuggled tea. There was also talk of underground tunnels, one leading from a fireplace in the house down to the waterside. 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.
In the part of town nearest the harbour you find the Auld Kirk, now used as the Eyemouth Museum. The museum has on display a tapestry commemorating the 1881 fishing disaster.
Would you prefer a guesthouse with sea views or a self-catering cottage on a farm? Somewhere to park your caravan and do your own things or a few days being waited on in the lap of luxury? The choice is yours. For a wealth of information on Eyemouth’s accomodation and local businesses please visit…visiteyemouth.com
Eating & Drinking
One of the joys of being on holiday is eating out. Our hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars throughout the Eyemouth area will tempt you with a wide choice of food and drink.
(View Eating & Drinkings listings on visiteyemouth.com)
Places of Interest
Apart from a super festival, Eyemouth has a lot of interesting things to “See and Do”… Find this section also in visiteyemouth.com
Eyemouth can cater for bigger shopper expeditions, with supermarkets, petrol stations and the type of stores you can expect to find in a small town. Most of the shops on Eyemouth High Street are independently owned, offering personal service and many locally produced goods.