In my last post about Burnmouth, I described the tragic events of 1881 when large numbers of fishermen were lost to a sudden, furious storm. Eyemouth lost a large proportion of the 189 men and boys who died on that October day, which has come to be known as Black Friday. To this day the fleet refrains from sailing on a Friday as a mark of respect for the victims. The local museum, which tells the port’s history since the 13th century, displays a tapestry commemorating the tragedy. Today, Eyemouth celebrates its still thriving fishing trade every July with the Herring Queen ceremony, in which the newly crowned queen is escorted by the fleet from St Abbs to Eyemouth.
Another ‘industry’ for which Eyemouth was renowned in the past was the smuggling trade. As the closest Scottish port to the continent, Eyemouth was particularly prized by smugglers. There were secret passages and concealed storage areas all over town, but the Headquarters of the illicit activities was the 18th century Gunsgreen House, which still dominates the harbour. Smugglers made use of the roof of the house to hide their ill-gotten gains as well as spaces hidden behind the walls, and even a space behind a fireplace that swung open. Nowadays, the house, which was designed by James, younger brother of the architect Robert Adam, and built by a local merchant and smuggler called John Nisbet, is open to visitors wanting to discover more about the town’s smuggling past. It also has a holiday rental apartment sleeping up to eleven guests.
Map of the area.