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10 July 2014
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COAST
Eyemouth Disaster tapestry
Eyemouth Museum
Although fishing has doubtless given Eyemouth much wealth over the years, it has also taken back from the town, and its form of currency has been the lives of the fishermen who have ventured out to the treacherous rocky seas beyond the harbour wall.

The biggest single toll exacted by the sea was to come on what began as a peaceful October day in 1881, the day that would become known to the town as Black Friday. It was a morning of glorious sunshine when the crews of the large Eyemouth fishing fleet set out, however, without their knowledge, a vicious storm was brewing as if out of nowhere.

There were 45 boats at sea, when the sky blackened and the barometers dropped. It is still a matter of controversy why the Borders fleet were the only ones to set out that day, as other fishing communities up and down the coast were warned of the dangers posed by the incoming storm.

Eyemouth Harbour
Eyemouth Harbour

The storm broke around midday, unleashing hurricane strength winds, which tossed the small fishing vessels around. As fishermen were hurled overboard, the boats turned to head for the safety of the harbour. However, with it being low tide, the treacherous Hurkar Rocks at the entrance of the harbour were uncovered, and several boats were dashed against them, their crews drowning in the water only yards from where their helpless families watched.

The list of fatalities stretched to 189 men and boys, with 129 of those coming from Eyemouth, amounting to a third of the fishermen of the town. The after-effects of the disaster were felt for years to come, as the disaster ruined the town, not only in human terms but also economically.

Here at Eyemouth Museum hangs a tapestry designed and woven by local people as a moving commemoration of those who dies in the disaster. The tapestry consists of four panels, beginning with an image of a storm and ending with symbols of sunrise and a new day, signifying hope for the future.

Directions: Turn left at the fishmarket towards the town, walk past the Bank of Scotland and you will see the museum on the right hand side - it's in a former church, so the building is obvious.

 

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