Disaster sculpture is nearing completion

Jill Watson's bronze statue memorial to the 1881 fishing disaster in Burnmouth Harbour. The proposed Eyemouth memorial statue will be the largest in the series
Jill Watson's bronze statue memorial to the 1881 fishing disaster in Burnmouth Harbour. The proposed Eyemouth memorial statue will be the largest in the series

As the anniversary of the Eyemouth fishing disaster approaches the outlook is good for completion of the bronze sculpture depicting the widows and children left behind.

On what has been described as Black Friday, Berwickshire boats from Eyemouth, Burnmouth, St Abbs and Cove put to sea on October 14, 1881. The fishing boats were engulfed by a storm as they tried to return to harbour - 189 fishermen were lost, 129 of them from Eyemouth.

To mark the 125th anniversary the 125 Memorial Association commissioned statues to be erected in Eyemouth and the three villages but while the others are complete the sheer scale of the Eyemouth statue - 79 widows and 182 fatherless children - and the cost involved means it has taken longer to complete.

“To date, the 125 Memorial Association has raised more than £82,000 towards its target of the £100,000 required to design, cast and install the bronze sculpture to be placed on the Bantry at Eyemouth,” said association spokesperson, Jim Evans.

“Each figure on the plinth will represent one of the 78 widows and 182 fatherless children left after the East Coast Fishing Disaster. Interpretation will let people know how these widows along with Eyemouth people held the town together and enabled it to recover and send its men once more to sea.”

Writing to his head office in Edinburgh the day after the 1881 disaster, John Doull at the Fishery Office, Eyemouth said: ““Eyemouth cannot recover from the effects of this sad disaster for many years to come and it will seriously cripple the important haddock fishing carried on from the place. Of the 49 boats which left Eyemouth and Burnmouth on that fatal Friday morning only some half dozen were open boats all the others were full decked, most efficiently equipped and manned by a portion of the best and most energetic fishermen on the east coast of Scotland.”

Mr Evans added: “People can sponsor one or more of the figures to be placed on top of the sculpture. A child can be sponsored for £25 and a widow for £50. There are 78 widows and 182 fatherless children asking to be sponsored and remembered.”

Sponsorship forms are available from the treasurer or any other trustee.