Eyemouth author and painter reflects on town's colourful history

THE colourful history of Eyemouth Harbour has been artistically brought together and will be available for all to see with the launch of new book 'Harbour Reflections'.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 9:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 9:39 am

'Harbour Reflections' - a history in word and water-colour that covers 250 years of Eyemouth Harbour, is due to be launched on Saturday by local artist and author David Dougal.

A work-in-progress for the last eight years, the book is the culmination of David's painting and writing talents.

Perhaps better known as an artist than an author, David turned his hand to writing in 2008 when he penned his family history covering the 59 years that his family lived in the famous Eyemouth landmark Gunsgreen House. Now he's combined the two talents in his latest book for 2010.

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"This is my second book, the first being about Gunsgreen," David explained.

"I started putting 'Harbour Reflections' together in 2002. It's been in the making for a long time so it's nice to have it here and finished!

"I'm retired so I have the time, and I enjoy doing it. This is my second book and I'm working on another, a follow up to the Gunsgreen House book."

'Harbour Reflections' features over 50 of David's artworks, and with the paintings portraying scenes from as long ago as 1760, David hopes that through the book local people and tourists alike can enjoy a bit of Eyemouth Harbour's history, which has been much associated with smuggling, as well as fishing, over the years.

David moved to Eyemouth at the age of seven when his grandfather lived in the famous Gunsgreen house (which prompted him to write his first book 'Memories of the Gunsgreen House We Knew and Loved'), and he has painted 300 water-colour pictures of the region's sea scapes and fishing boats. 52 of these art works are included in the new book, along with a short story explaining each scene to document the history of Eyemouth Harbour.

Coming from a family of fisher-folk, David says that painting boats and the sea has always come naturally to him.

"My Grandfather, William Dougal, lived in Gunsgreen house for 60 years," David explained. "He had the fishing boat Amaranth, which is featured in one of the paintings in the book.

"I have always painted, but I painted in oils until 1995. Then my wife got me a set of water colours, and since then I've never looked back."

The Eyemouth artist and author often uses his talents to help charities, particularly local branches of the RNLI, through the sale or raffling of his paintings.

One of the pictures in the new book depicts Eyemouth Harbour in 1881, the year of the tragic fishing disaster, when many local fishermen were lost at sea: "Eyemouth Harbour was a busy port at this time, but the day 129 local fishermen were lost at sea in a severe storm on the 14th October 1881 was a tragic loss to the town," writes David, who has dedicated his latest book to the men of the sea who sail out of Eyemouth Harbour; past, present and future, and wishes them "Always a safe return".

A foreword to the book has been written by Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, who said he was delighted to write a few introductory words to what he describes as a "fascinating book."

"Whether you are resident of the town or just a curious visitor, it is difficult not to be quickly consumed by the story of Eyemouth and the harbour," writes John Lamont. "Indeed, the history of Eyemouth is inextricably linked to the history of the harbour. From its early beginnings almost a thousand years ago, to regeneration work of recent years, Eyemouth Harbour has countless stories to tell."

'Harbour Reflections' tells many of these tales through the impressive water-colours, and the researched history that's included with each picture.

In his foreword, Mr Lamont says that the rich history of Eyemouth Harbour is what makes up the fabric of the community which exists in the town today.

"From the infamous smuggling days, to the tragedy of Black Friday in 1881, this book records the history of Eyemouth and its harbour through the individuals who lived thorough it and the boats they sailed," he writes, adding: "It is a fitting tribute to the story they have inspired."

Since his first exhibition, David's works have become very popular, and are held in private collections in Britain and world wide. His originals and prints can be found in galleries in Scotland and England, and now a taster of his work can be seen in 'Harbour Reflections', which is due to be launched on Saturday (February 20) at Crossing the Bar book shop, Market Place.

David will be on hand at Crossing the Bar to sign copies of his new book from 10am-12noon and at the Smokehouse Gallery from 2-4pm.

Priced 9.99, Harbour Reflections will be available there after, and can be purchased from Crossing the Bar, The Smokehouse Gallery in St Ella's Place, Eyemouth, and from Eyemouth Post Office.