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Wick Heritage Museum

Occupying a series of former houses in Bank Row in Lower Pulteneytown, the award-winning Wick Heritage Museum lies just to the west of Wick Harbour. It is designed to introduce visitors to all aspects of the social history of the town, which was once the herring capital of Europe, but also includes displays on archaeology and natural history. A large and eclectic collection of objects are displayed through a succession of rooms, which include recreations of a fisherman's cottage, a school-room, blacksmith's shop and harbour, together with trades associated with the fishing industry such a cooperage, where barrels to contain salted herring were made, and a curing kiln once used to preserve the fish by smoking.

The museum also houses glassware from the former Caithness Glass factory, toys, model boats, 19th century fashions and a room dedicated to the civic life of the town. Other major exhibits include an optical system dating from c.1850 which was designed by engineer Alan Stevenson (1807-65) for Noss Head Lighthouse and the Johnston Collection of more than 50,000 images taken between 1863 and 1975 by a family of local photographers. There is also an art gallery featuring works depicting Wick and the work of local artists.

The museum opened in 1981, an initiative of the Wick Society, which had run a small museum in the Carnegie Library in the town since 1974, in conjunction with Caithness District Council. The Society was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2009 in recognition of the importance of the museum and the work involved in creating it.

The museum also provides a research resource for those interested in the history of the town and its fishing industry, and educational facilities for local schools. It extends to several other buildings around Wick, including the old herring mart (c.1890), former lifeboat shed (1915) and pilot house which gives a panoramic view over the town and its harbour. In the harbour is the Isabella Fortuna - the oldest sea-going fishing boat in Scotland which was restored by the museum.


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