Eyemouth celebrates special Herring Queen year

Crowning of Mary Craig in 1939, the very first Eyemouth Herring Queen

Crowning of Mary Craig in 1939, the very first Eyemouth Herring Queen

  • by Jim Milnes

Eyemouth residents are gearing up to celebrate the town’s collaborative spirit with a series of events centred around this year’s Herring Queen celebrations.

One of the brightest stops on the trip down memory lane will be at Eyemouth Museum, where co-ordinator Lynne Bogle is celebrating a year in her post with a very special exhibition.

Looking back herself, Lynne has been weighing up her first year in the fishing town.

Originally from Selkirk, she wanted to thank all the trustees, volunteers and staff who contributed to the success of her first year in Eyemouth.

She is glad that, as opposed to last year, the staff roster will remain the same for the rest of 2014, allowing for “a little continuity”.

Lynne’s first year was a success all round: visitor numbers were up by nearly 9 per cent, and naturally gift shop sales, donations, memberships and sales of paintings increased accordingly.

She said: “Now we need to keep building on this to fully make the transition to the museum being self-sustaining. The support of local folk is crucial to the long term future of the museum and tourist info centre and we appreciate all those folk who have either become members, visited the museum, bought in the gift shop or helped at fundraising events.”

Lynne highlights the fact that the museum consists of roughly a third of Eyemouth’s tourist operations. “We’re often the first port of call for visitors,” she said.

“Our job is to highlight all the wonderful things there are to do in the area as well as pointing them in the direction of other businesses and attractions.

“There is a strong sense of supporting one another in the business community here and that is our strength.”

Indeed, on a recent visit to Eyemouth, Paula McDonald, regional director of VistScotland, told a Chamber of Trade meeting that the town could be held up as an ideal model for how a community could galvanise itself into action.

“In the near future, there will be plenty going on, perhaps most importantly making progress with the 3D Booth which will recreate Eyemouth Fort as it was in the 16th century. This is hugely exciting as we are hoping this will attract a whole new generation of visitors. We are really grateful to Friends of Eyemouth Fort and the Coastal Community Fund for making this happen.

“We are also hoping to put on some of our summer guided walks again this summer, but the real big thing is of course the Herring Queen.”

Elaine Peakman, secretary of the Eyemouth Herring Queen committee, is helping prepare an exhibition with the museum based on the different styles of Herring Queen dresses down the years, to coincide with the ceremony’s 70th occurrence this summer.

“We have had dresses donated from the Queens of 1939, 1949, 1953, 1969, 1973, 1984, 1992, 2001 and 2011,” she said.

“The response has ben great, so we’ve been able to get a dress from each decade, to really show the history of the Queens.”

Elaine showed Lynne the oldest dress to go in the exhibition, which, even though it was made before the Second World War, was still in good condition, and still had its accompanying belt.

“It’s amazing that someone like Mary Craig - who wore this as Queen in 1939 – would keep it, even when she travelled. You’d expect that with something like a wedding dress. That’s how important these things are.”

Elaine says she has been inundated with donations for the exhibition, including things like that dress, which are on long-term loan. “I’d love to say there’s a system,” she said, “but really most of them are hung up in my bedroom right now!

“With everyone coming home to Eyemouth this summer it’s like the United Nations, it really is,” she laughs.

“Ann Collin was herring Queen in 1961. Her son’s coming over from the States, and her sister is also flying in from Dubai.

“Anne herself plans to be there this year at the champagne reception.

“It’s lovely to see that, especially in this, the year of Scottish Homecoming.”




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