Studies of the Fishing Industry

There are two important academic studies of the industry. Malcolm Gray’s The Fishing Industries of Scotland 1790-1914 gives a comprehensive account of the economic history of the industry, while James Coull’s The Sea Fisheries of Scotland provides a grand narrative of the Scottish fishing industry from the earliest days till 1996, its year of publication. Both Malcolm Gray and James Coull taught at Aberdeen University, and this is reflected in their interests. In the second half of the nineteenth century fishing in Aberdeen and in the various fishing ports of Aberdeenshire, especially Fraserburgh and Peterhead grew significantly in importance. My own interest stems from my Caithness origins. Three of my great-grandfathers were involved in the fishing industry. My paternal great grandfather was a cooper in Latheronwheel, while on my mother’s side of the family one of her grandfathers was a carting contractor, and the other was a fisherman , both in Wick.

The Silver Darlings

Neill M. Gunn, who has been described as ‘one of the major writers of the renaissance of Scottish literature in the early twentieth century’ 1 , was the son of a fisherman and came from the village of Dunbeath on the North-East Coast of Scotland. His novel The Silver Darlings, written in 1941, harks back to the early days of the herring fishing. It is a story of youthful adventure, and a Scottish Bildungsroman which gives an insight into how people who had been cleared from farming communities in the Straths of Sutherland met the challenge of becoming fishermen.

1. BBC Biography of Neil Gunn