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Stonehaven

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Stonehaven (commonly Stanehive), a post-town, seaport, and seat of some trade, and the county town of Kincardineshire. It has a railway station on the Caledonian and North British line from Perth to Aberdeen, and by rail is 16 miles SSW of the latter city. By road it is 10 miles NNE of Bervie. Its site is the head of the bay of the same name at the influx of the Carron and Cowie, and the place consists of an old town and a new, of which the former claims to be a burgh of barony. The old town, in the parish of Dunnottar, on the S bank of the Carron, consists chiefly of two main streets with closes branching off, and is irregularly built. It is inhabited mostly by fishermen. The new town, which is now the more important, occupies the point of land to the NW at the junction of the Carron and Cowie, in the parish of Fetteresso. It is well built, and has its streets, laid off at right angles, passing out from a central square. A bridge across the Carron connects the two towns, and another carries the N road over the Water of Cowie. In the old town the only thing of note is the old well and the public barometer set up in 1852. In the new town there is a market house in the square, erected in 1827, with a steeple 130 feet high. In Allardyce Street is a new town-hall in the Italian style, erected in 1877-78 at a cost of £4000. The hall contains a picture of `The Coming Storm,' presented by the architect, Mr W. Lawrie, Inverness. Besides a public hall, it comprises news, billiard, and reading rooms. The county buildings contain courtrooms and other accommodation for the sheriff courts. The county prison, altered, enlarged, and legalised in 1867, has been, since the passing of the Prisons Act, used only as a 14 days prison, prisoners for longer periods being sent to Aberdeen. The Established churches are noticed under the parishes of Dunnottar and Fetteresso. In the town itself are a Free church, a U.P. church (1803; 400 sittings), the Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception (1877; 80 sittings), and St James's Episcopal church (1875-77; 400 sittings), a Norman and Early Transition edifice, built at a cost of £3600 from designs by Dr Rowand Anderson, but still wanting chancel and spire. Stonehaven public school, under the Fetteresso school board, on a high bank to the NW, was built in 1876 at a cost of £4000, and contains accommodation for 400 children. Donaldson's Free School, which at one time provided free education for a number of children, is now closed, and the benefaction managed by the school board. The harbour, consisting of two basins, was originally a small natural bay to the S of the mouth of the Carron, sheltered on the SE by Downie Point. The old harbour and quay to the N date originally from very early times, a grant of them having been obtained by the feuars from the Earl Marischal in the beginning of the 17th century. The situation is convenient, but the harbour itself was poor, till, under an Act of Parliament obtained in 1825, it was vested in harbour commissioners, and improvements executed in 1826, the sea wall and breasting of the new harbour to the S being built, and other improvements made, from designs by Mr Robert Stevenson. Subsequently jetties were added so as to protect vessels in the new basin from damage during storms. During these operations a large rock to the S, giving name to the place - Stane-hive or Stone-haven or harbour - was removed. The whole harbour area is about 5 acres. The improvements have cost about £9000, and further extension has recently been proposed. There are good leading lights. There are four vessels belonging to the port - none of them over 100 tons which are engaged in the coasting trade or in carrying cargoes of herring to the Baltic ports. The harbour has become very important in connection with the herring fishing industry, over 100 boats fishing from the port every season. The 102 boats thus engaged in 1884 had a total catch of 13,770 crans. In 1883, 80 first-class, 50 second-class, and 69 third-class boats, employing 485 resident fisher men and boys, were in Stonehaven fishery district, which includes Stonehaven itself and the villages of Shieldhill, Catterline, Crawton, Cowie, Stranathrow, and Skateraw ; while the number of boats fishing within it were 110, employing 688 fisher men and boys, and 422 other persons. The value of the boats belonging to the district in the same year was £9115, of the nets £10,334, and of the lines £2828. The harbour revenue for 1884 was £958. The old town has the status of a burgh of barony, though the claim is disputed. The Act of Parliament of 1607, ratifying the change of the county town from Kincardine, speaks of it as ` the burgh of Stanehive,' but the original Act of 1600 merely calls it ` the Stanehive.' From 1624 the superior-the Earl Marischal-granted the feuars the privilege of nominating two persons to serve as bailies. After the forfeiture of the Marischal family the feuars elected managers, but from 1797 till 1812, under Lord Keith, the old custom was re-established. In consequence of quarrels it was discontinued from 1812 to 1823, but was then restored, and now the council of the old town consists of 2 bailies, a dean of guild, and 3 councillors. The present superior of the old town is Lady G. A. H. Elphinstone, and of the new town, Alexander Baird of Urie. The affairs of the new town are attended to by a provost, 2 bailies, and 7 councillors. The manufacture of cotton and linen, at one time extensively carried on, has long been extinct ; and the only industries in the neighbourhood now, apart from fishing, are a large distillery at Glen Urie, and a small wool mill, both, however, outside the town. In the town there are a tannery and brewery. There are a considerable number of summer visitors every year. Stonehaven has a head post office, with money order, savings' bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branch offices of the Bank of Scotland, North of Scotland, and Town and County Banks, a branch of the National Security Savings' Bank, agencies of 16 insurance companies, and 2 good hotels. There are also a subscription library, a literary society, a choral union, cricket and football clubs, a masonic lodge (St John's, No. 65), a court of the Ancient Order of Forcsters, a Good Templar lodge, and the usual religious and philanthropic associations. Water and gas are supplied by private jointstock companies. The Independent Stonehaven Journal (1845) is published every Thursday. There is a weekly market on Thursday, and cattle fairs on the Thursday before Candlemas, on the third Thursday of June, on the Thursday before Lammas, on the second Thursday of October, and on the Thursday before Christmas, all o. s. ; and there are hiring fairs on the day before 26 May, and the day before 22 Nov., or if those days be Mondays, on the Saturdays before. Sheriff and small debt courts for Kincardineshire are held every Wednesday during session, and there are justice of peace courts on the first Saturday of every month. Pop. of entire town (1841) 3012, (1861) 3009, (1871) 3396, (1881) 3957, of whom 1830 were males and 2127 females. Houses (1881) 647 inhabited, 25 uninhabited, and 9 being built. Of the whole population 1708 were in the old town and 2249 in the new town, and of the inhabited houses 199 were in the former and 448 in the latter.—Ord. Sur., sh. 67, 1871.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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