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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Newhaven.] REV. DR. FAIRBAIRN. 303 In 1820 there were landed at the old stone pier of Newhaven, John Baud and fourteen other prisoners, ?f Radicals ? who had been taken after the skirmish at Bonny Bridge, by the 10th Hussars and the Stirlingshire yeomanry. They had been brought by water from the castle of Stirling, and were conveyed to gaol from Newhaven in six carriages, escorted by a macer of justiciary, and the detachment of a Veteran Battalion. In the following year, and while railways were still in the womb of the future, the Scots Magazine announces, that a gentleman who had left Belfast on a Thursday, ?reached Glasgow the same evening, and embarked on board the Tounit (steamer) at Newhaven on Friday, and arrived at Aberdeen that night. Had such an event been predicted fifty years ago, it would have been as easy to make people believe that this journey would have been accomplished by means of a balloon.? About five hundred yards westward oi the stone pier, a chain pier was constructed in the year 1821, by Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown, of the Royal Navy, at the cost of A4,ooo. It is five hundred feet long, four feet wide, has a depth at low water of from five to six feet, and served for the use of the steam packets to Stirling, Queensferry, and other places above and below Leith; yet, being unable to offer accommodation for the bulky steam vessels that frequent the harbour of the latter or that of Granton, it is now chiefly used by bathers, and is the head-quarters of the Forth swimming club. It was opened on the 14th of October, ISzr, and was afterwards tested by a weight of twentyone tons placed upon the different points of suspension. In 1840 it became the property of the Alloa Steam Packet Company. In 1838 Newhaven was erected into a quoad sma parish, by the aathority of the Presbytery .of Edinburgh, when a handsome church was erected for the use of the community, from a design by John Henderson of Edinburgh. Near it, in Main Street, is the Free Church, designed in good Gothic style by James A. Hamilton of Edinburgh, an elegant feature in the locality, but chiefly remarkable for the ministry of the late Rev. Dr. Fairbairn, who died in January, 1879- a man who came of a notable race, as the wellknown engineers of the same name were his cousins, as was also Principal Fairbairn of Glasgow. He was ordained minister at Newhaven in 1838. The great majority of his congregation were fishermen and their families, who were always keenly sensible of the mode in which he prayed for those who were exposed to the dangers of the deep. During his long pastorate these prayers were.a striking feature in his ministrations, and Charles Reade, while residing in the neighbourhood, frequently attended Newhaven Free Church, and has, in his novel of ? Christie Johnstone,? given a lifelike portrait of his demeanour when administering consolation, after a case of drowning. Perhaps the most useful of thii amiable old pastor?s philanthropic schemes was that of the reconstruction of the Newhaven fishing fleet. He perceived early that the boats in use were wholly unsuited for modem requirements, and some years before his death he propounded a plan for replacing them by others having decks, bunks, and other compartments. As soon as a crew came forward with a portion of the money required, Dr. Fairbairn had no difficulty in getting the remainder advanced. Thirty-three large new boats, each costing about Lzso, with as much more for fishing gear, were the result of his kindly labours. They have all been prosperous, and hundreds of the inhabitants of Newhaven, when they stood around his grave, remembered what they owed to the large-hearted and prudent benevolence of this old ministei. In 1864 a local committee was appointed for the purpose of erecting a breakwater on the west side of the present pier, so as to form a harbour for the fishing craft. Plans and specifications were prepared by Messrs. Stevenson, engineers, Edinburgh, and the work was estimated at the probable cost of L;~,OOO ; and while soliciting aid from the Board of Fisheries, the Board of Trade, and the ,magistrates of Edinburgh, the fishermen honourably and promptly volunteered to convey ? all the stonework necessary in their boats or otherwise from the quarry at? Qleensferry. The fishermen of Newhaven rarely intermany With the women of other fisher communities ; and a woman of any other class, unacquainted with the cobbling of nets, baiting and preparation of lines, the occasional use of a tiller or oar, would be useless as a fisherman?s wife; hence their continued intermarriages cause no small confusion in the nomenclature of this remarkable set of people. The peculiar melodious and beautiful cry of the Newhaven oyster-woman-the last of the quaint old Edinburgh street cries-is well known ; and so also is their costume ; yet, as in time it may become a thing of the past, we may give a brief description of it here. ?A cap of linen or cotton,?J says a writer in Chambers?s EdinQurgh Journal, ?? surmounted by a stout napkin tied below the chin, composes the investiture of the hood ; the showy structures wherewith other females are adorned , .
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304 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Newhaven. ~~~~~ ~ being inadmissible from the broad belt which supports the creel, that is, fish-basket, crossing the forehead. A sort of woollen pea-jacket with vast amplitude of skirt, conceals the upper part of the person, relieved at the throat by a liberal display of handkerchief The under part of the figure is endued upon a masculine but handsome form, notwithstanding the slight stoop forward, which is almost uniformly contracted-fancy the firm and elastic step, the toes slightly inclined inwardsand the ruddy complexion resulting from hard exercise, and you have the beau idiab of fishwives." REV. DR. FAIRBAIRN. (A&r a Photagrajh 6y John Mojat, Elnburgh.) invested with a voluminous quantity of petticoat, of substantial material and gaudy colour, generally yellow with stripes, so made as to admit of a very free inspection of the ankle, and worn in such numbers that the bare mention of them would be enough to make a fine lady faint. 'One half of these ample garments is gathered over the haunches, puffing out the figure in an unusual and uncouth manner. White worsted stockings and stout shoes complete the picture. Imagine these investments The unmarried girls when pursuing the trade of hawking fish wear the same costume, save that their heads are always bare. The Buckhaven fisher people on the opposite coast are said to derive their origin from Flemish settlers, and yet adhere to the wide trousers and long boots of the Netherlands; but there is no reason for supposing that those of Newhaven or Fisherrow are descended from any other than a good old Scottish stock.
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