Eyemouth is a town full of character, small, friendly with wonderful countryside close by and all the delights of a working harbour with a population around 3600.
Eyemouth is located on the South East coast of Scotland, seven miles north of Berwick Upon Tweed, approximately one hour drive from Edinburgh or Newcastle, two hours from Glasgow or Carlisle.
Eyemouth is Scotland’s second-largest inshore fishing port; fishing remains the mainstay of the local economy but tourism also plays a large part.
Though small, Eyemouth is a town that offers something for everyone. Part seaside resort, part working fishing harbour, its attractions include an interesting layout, nice buildings and a fascinating history. The Eye Water flows north into the North Sea here and the natural harbour formed by the river mouth has been used as far back as the 1200s, and probably much further.
During Henry VIII’s incursions into Scotland during the 1540s, the English used the port and built an artillery fort on the east side of the Eye Water. This occupied the area behind the site used in 1755 for one of Eyemouth’s most distinctive buildings, Gunsgreen House.
Eyemouth’s harbour stretches back along the Eye Water, effectively forming the eastern edge of the town. Fishing played a vital part in the local economy as early as 1298: but it has also been a source of tragedy. During the 1800s Eyemouth’s harbour was not improved as quickly as many, and its entrance was very tricky in rough weather.
This meant that in 1881 when a sudden storm blew up while the fleet was out at sea 189 fishermen, including 129 from Eyemouth itself, lost their lives. The harbour was later improved to provide a much safer entrance, but too late for many of its fishermen.
In earlier times Eyemouth was notorious as a centre for smuggling. As the Scottish port nearest the continent, it became a natural place for the illicit import of spirits and other goods.
One report suggested that the roof space of Gunsgreen House overlooking the harbour was regularly used as a store for smuggled tea.
In the part of the town nearest the harbour, you find the Auld Kirk, now used as the Eyemouth Museum. The museum has on display a tapestry commemorating the 1881 fishing disaster. Opposite the Auld Kirk is the attractive Town Hall. As you move west through this small town, the sense of a working fishing harbour is quickly replaced by that of a seaside resort.