Cockenzie Harbour

Repairing a fishing boat at Cockenzie Harbour
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Repairing a fishing boat at Cockenzie Harbour

The smaller and older of the two harbours in the combined settlement of Cockenzie and Port Seton, Cockenzie Harbour is a tidal leisure and fishing haven dating from the 16th century or earlier. At that time it comprised a small natural harbour, protected by a pair of rocky ridges. It was chartered as a free port by King James VI in 1591 and brisk trade is recorded between here and Flanders in the 17th century, when Cockenzie Harbour is said to have good facilities. Salt was exported and fishing was an important activity. The harbour was improved around 1650 by George Seton, the 3rd Earl of Winton (1584 - 1650), again in 1722 by the York Buildings Company and finally in 1835, at a cost of around £400, by Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850) for the Cadells, who were shipping coal from Cockenzie to the north of Scotland, England, France and Germany. The substantial masonry breakwater dates from this time and an area of 1.2 ha (3 acres) is enclosed.

The harbour is owned and operated by East Lothian Council, and is used by a handful of small fishing vessels with moorings for leisure craft. A boatyard here continued in operation into the 21st century. The 1722 Waggonway Museum is located next to the harbour.

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