Supported by NEWHAVEN HERITAGE CENTRE which is recognised as a Scottish registered charity No. SC044837

NEWHAVEN — A  UNIQUE FISHING VILLAGE ON THE COAST OF THE FORTH, PROUD OF ITS TRADITIONS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

newhaven-on-forthAbout Us

If you have contributions to make to the knowledge base and photographic archives on any of the topics on this page, they would be most welcome.  Please contact archivist@newhavenonforth.org.uk

Links

Policies

Contact Us

The Fisher Wives Choir

Song was at the heart of Newhaven’s fishing community, Fishermen believed that the sea would yield a better harvest if the oysters were sang to.  Songs — predominantly the newfangled Sankey and Moody hymns or the auld Scots paraphrases — were sung when at the oars to maintain the rhythm.


Mussels were the mainstay of the bait used on the fishing lines when haddock or cod was the prey.  In the early daylight hours, the young fisherlasses would leave the village heading for the Martello tower between Newhaven and Leith where the mussels beds were rich and abundant. To keep up their spirits, the chill air was filled with their young voices singing the popular sacred songs of the day.  


This joy of song led to the formation of the Newhaven Choirs — at one time there were three on the go.  In 1896, a teacher in the Victoria Primary School, Mr Morrison Cooke, formed the Fisherlasses’ Choir which proved very  successful.  After the First World War, the Fisherwomen’s Choir was formed, this time with Mrs Ritchie conducting, this role eventually being taken on by her daughters.  The choirs achieved nation-wide fame and even performed abroad.


The choirs were not only pleasing to the ear but were a treat for the eye as  well.  The ladies turned out in their traditional garb of their braws of striped coloured petticoats under a gathered skirt and brightly coloured tops with shawls over their heads and shoulders.  The choirs ceased to exist in the late 50’s.