Widows and bairns forever look out to sea

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The final bronze statue marking the 1881 Eyemouth fishing disaster was placed on the town’s bantry this week ready for its unveiling on Friday, October 14.

The 5m-long ‘Widows and Bairns’ sculpture features all 78 widows and 182 fatherless children left in Eyemouth after 189 Berwickshire fishermen lost their lives at sea on Black Friday, October 14, 1881, when a hurricane struck the fleet just outside the town’s harbour. All but 70 of the men came from Eyemouth.

Sculptor Jill Watson, originally from Cove, was commissioned to produce four statues for Eyemouth, Burnmouth, Cove and St Abbs, each one depicting the exact number of widows and fatherless children affected by the disaster.

The tragic tempest left 93 widows and 267 children without their fathers, and of the 45 boats that went to sea, only 19 returned.

Three of the four completed works were unveiled in 2007, all in prominent positions as the characters look out to sea for their husbands and fathers,but the sheer scale and cost – around £100,000 – of the Eyemouth sculpture delayed its completion until now.

Jill supervised its installation at Eyemouth bantry on Monday, and the statue will be officially unveiled by descendants of the families affected by the disaster on October 14 at 2pm, 135 years to the day that the sea took their menfolk.

Jill watson and Ryan Kane unpack the bronze 1881 memorial statue, delivered to Eyemouth before its unveiling on the anniversay of the Black Friday fishing disaster

Jill watson and Ryan Kane unpack the bronze 1881 memorial statue, delivered to Eyemouth before its unveiling on the anniversay of the Black Friday fishing disaster