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St Abbs, Harbour and Old Fish Houses

A Category B Listed Building in Coldingham, Scottish Borders

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8987 / 55°53'55"N

Longitude: -2.1301 / 2°7'48"W

OS Eastings: 391962

OS Northings: 667292

OS Grid: NT919672

Mapcode National: GBR F0K7.MB

Mapcode Global: WH9XQ.7ZXW

Entry Name: St Abbs, Harbour and Old Fish Houses

Listing Date: 9 June 1971

Last Amended: 29 April 2002

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 335319

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB4104

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Coldingham

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: East Berwickshire

Parish: Coldingham

Traditional County: Berwickshire

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Saint Abbs

Description

Mitchell & William Wilson. 1831 - 1833, with improvements 1848-49. Substantial extensions by D & T Stevenson, 1883 - 86; further 20th century additions. Original fishery harbour comprising near L-plan pier to S and E with straight pier projecting from shore to NW, enclosing near rectangular-plan basin. Later, near rectangular-plan harbour to E with later breakwater set at angle adjoining NE corner. Straight pier projecting from shore to NW, enclosing later, near rectangular-plan harbour to NW. Predominantly tooled, squared and coursed cream sandstone; rendered in part. Parapet walls to outer piers (stepped in part); iron bollards line concrete walkways.

FISH HOUSES: early 19th century. Vernacular complex sited on harbour and hillside, comprising lean-to cooperage; 2-storey and attic, gabled smokehouse and weigh inset into hillside. Random rubble bonded with clay for most part although rear of cooperage natural rock, some red brick.

COOPERAGE: single storey, L-plan lean-to adjoining natural rock.

NW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: later timber doors inset into red brick wall. Further brick structure adjoining to left.

NE ELEVATION: central window with brick surround inset into rubble wall; natural rock projecting to left.

SW (REAR) ELEVATION: pure rock.

SE ELEVATION: blind rubble and brick wall set into rising hill.

SMOKEHOUSE: 2-storey, rectangular former smokehouse diminishing to single storey and attic to rear.

NE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: paired doors to centre of ground floor; 2 irregularly placed windows to 1st floor.

NW ELEVATION: gabled end with blind window to 1st floor; various later adverting fascia boards irregularly placed to rest of elevation. Lower raised section projecting from ground floor for storage of nets and marker floats.

SW (REAR) ELEVATION: blind wall with remains of now blind window to left and right; wall adjoining to far right linking cooperage and smokehouse, central door now blind.

SE ELEVATION: gabled end with window to lower gablehead.

Pitched pantiled roof to smokehouse with terracotta ridge tiles, corrugated metal sheeting and felt to lean-to cooperage. Drainpipe leading onto sandstone slab water table.

INTERIOR: currently in use as stores; original cobbled floor to cooperage; partially whitewashed.

Statement of Interest

Still in use as such, 2001. St Abbs is principally a small fishing village 2 miles north of Coldingham, and at one time known as "Coldingham Shore". Mitchell and Wilson's initial fishery harbour (now the inner/SW basin) was erected at a cost of ?1,200 - a quarter of which was raised by public subscription. A member of the Usher Brewing Firm gave much of the money from Edinburgh, he also provided money for the church. This was on the stipulation that no public house was to be erected in the village. Drawings held in the National Map Library show substantial extensions to the basin proposed in the 1880s by the Edinburgh-based civil engineers, D & T Stevenson. A drawing dated 1883 shows the proposed 'Harbour A' to the E of the existing basin and 'Harbour B' to its NW - the overall scheme being near rectangular in plan. A drawing held in the SRO (RHP4248) shows 'Harbour B' in place by 1888, with 'Harbour A' still awaiting construction. Drawing RHP13125, dated 1891, shows the harbour as it is today, with the inner basin, 'Harbour A' and 'Harbour B' all in place. At one time, the majority of people in St Abbs derived their living from fishing. These buildings were in use as a cooperage, a leather apron belonging to the cooper still survives; a smokehouse for the catch and a weigh. At its height, the fleet had 22 active boats, but now only a couple survives. The majority of boats now work out of Eyemouth. Hume noted the presence of 2 net-boilers in 1976. The life boat house is set to the E of the inner basin, and is kept busy as the area now makes its living from diving parties. A slipway from the shore is to the W.

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