Waymarks will guide public on memorial trail

ARTIST John Behm spent nearly two hours in the North Sea on Friday bringing ashore his final piece of work that makes up the 12 bronze waymarks along the Berwickshire coast - part of a lasting memorial to the 1881 fishing disaster.

"All in the name of art," was John's explanation for wading chest deep in the sea bringing ashore both the art work and equipment required to install it.

"Ultimately it was an adventure that took us over two hours in the sea wading about bringing everything ashore. We lit a fire to warm ourselves up then installed the waymark without two much trouble."

As well as the four Jill Watson sculptures - at Eyemouth, Burnmouth, St Abbs and Cove - the 125 Association, set up to mark the 125th anniversary of the disaster in 2006 and to develop lasting memorials, also commissioned John to create waymarks, taking visitors along the coast to give them a feel for the geography of the area affected by the fishing disaster that cost 189 lives and left 93 widows and 267 fatherless children.

The main waymark master panel is on the pier at Eyemouth at the start of the trail.

The idea is for visitors to take a rubbing of the master panel and then fill in the blank sails by taking rubbings at each of the waymarks along the trail to complete it.

The 125 Association plan to officially launch the trail in the early summer with a website and leaflet leading members of the public along the Berwickshire coastline.

Denise Walton assisted the association in identifying sites for the waymarks and seeking permission from landowners along the way.

They were fortunate in that only one of the preferred sites had to be ruled out but Linkim Shore definitely provided them with the biggest challenge when it came to positioning the waymark.

"Linkim Shore mattered because it was once a fishing station," explained John. "Most of the locations have historical connections with fishing or are at fantastic moments in a dramatic coastline."

There is no vehicular access to the beach at Linkim Shore and after much discussion it was decided that the most practical way of getting the waymark, plus all the tools required to install it at its final destination, was by boat.

The idea was to drop of the waymark from the boat at high tide, with a buoy attached and then recover it from the shore at low tide.

What actually happened on Friday afternoon was that the waymark, plus John Behm, his daughter Tulta and Mel Watkinson were all dropped off at rocks near the beach at Linkim Shore and between them they waded backward and forward to the shore carrying the waymark and equipment.

The principal waymark and the starting point is on Eyemouth pier, the others positioned along the coast at: Pettico Wick, near St abbs; one at Lumsdaine on the clifftop; two on either side of a standing stone at Dow Law near Fast Castle; one just outside the church yard at St Helen's Kirk, Old Cambus, near Siccar Point; two at Cove; one at Coldingham Sands;one at St Abbs Harbour; one at Burnmouth Harbour; one at Blaikie Heugh, about a mile and half from Eyemouth Golf Club; and the final one at Linkim Shore.

Ben Tindall, secretary of the 125 Association, said: "I think we have now got an absolutely fantastic set of art works on the Berwickshire coast that will become very well known."

So far the association has raised over 100,000 to fund both John Behm's waymarks and Jill Watson's sculptures.

Jill Watson, from Cove, near Cockburnspath, is a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Art, and her work was unveiled on October 14, 2007, the anniversary of Black Friday.

The completed waymarks will be officially launched in the next few months but a further 60,000 is still required to complete the Eyemouth memorial.

The installation, the biggest of the memorials, is placed in Eyemouth Old Cemetery and so far is only one-fifth completed.

lt commemorates the women and children left behind in each fishing community and is placed where families would have watched from the shore for the missing boats on Black Friday when 45 boats went to sea and only 19 returned.