Boatbuilding history explained

The boatyard of James Weatherhaed 1841-1946
The boatyard of James Weatherhaed 1841-1946

The spotlight is firmly on one particular Eyemouth family as the town’s museum launches its first exhibition of the new season.

The focus for the display on the museum’s top floor is the Weatherhead family and their strong connection with shipbuilding in Eyemouth.

The story dates back to 1841 when, following an apprenticeship served with James Lee in Tweedmouth, James Weatherhead, in partnership with his uncle James Hall, started building boats at Brownsbank. But although regularly referred to as Eyemouth Boatyard, at that time it was in Ayton Parish.

The first partially decked boat was built there in the early 1850s followed by the first fully decked boat in 1856.

The first motorised boat out of Eyemouth was the ‘Maggie Janes’ which was converted in early 1907 with a 55hp Gardner engine.

The conversion was carried out by Weatherheads with the engine installed by McBain of Berwick. It was capable of a speed of 8 knots and had a reversible propeller which could be closed when using the sails.

James Weatherhead had a family of 11 children, six sons and five daughters.

He died in 1905 at the age of 91.

His first son William started a boatbuilding business in Port Seton before moving to Cockenzie so it was second son James who continued the Eyemouth business.

His son James William was employed in the boat yard, but died in 1947 aged 66 having previously sold the firm to his Cockenzie-based cousins.

James Weatherhead’s fifth son John although starting his career in boatbuilding had by 1891 converted to a career as an auctioneer.

The Eyemouth museum exhibition has been put together from materials which have been collected over a number of years together with photographs and details of the boatbuilding operations which have been provided by Graham Toward.

He has carried out extensive research into the subject not only in Eyemouth but on the whole of the East coast of Scotland.

Keen to get things as accurate as possible, museum chair Bill Stewart said: “Should anyone feel that any of our information is incorrect or they have additional information which would be of benefit to the exhibition please let us know.

“We are always interested in deepening our knowledge.”