The weather in Helmsdale: 9°C / Broken clouds

From Friday 27th November, Timespan is temporarily closed for the Winter Season.

Model “Fifie” Fishing Boat

By 1890, bigger fishing boats like the Fifie were being used in Scotland, these boats had open decks and powerful sails, enabling the crews to sail to further fishing grounds. The crews were exposed to the elements and had to manually haul up the herring nets in all weathers. It was a dangerous occupation with whole crews being lost in severe stormy weather.

The herring fleet travelled along the east coast from the Shetland Isles to Greater Yarmouth, in the south of England, following the migratory path of the Atlantic herring along the east coast waters. The herring fishing season at Helmsdale was relatively short, lasting from July to September, and it was an opportunity for local fishermen to increase their income in a relatively short period. 

The herring catches were landed at the harbour and unloaded using a simple hoisting system that lifted filled baskets of fish from the boats to the quayside of the harbour, where it was transported by cart to the curing yards, where groups of women were responsible for gutting, salting and packing the fish into barrels.  

In 1852, the Scottish Fishery Board set the imperial measure for herring as the cran, which was the quantity of fish required to fill a 45 gallon barrel. A cran would typically contain around 1200 fish. In 1818, there were just over 5000 barrels of herring cured at Helmsdale, which had risen to over 45,000 barrels by 1850.

This model has the registration number BK 918 for the Berwick on Tweed area.