Banff harbour in 2006 / 2007 was converted to a marina, and officially opened 21st April 2007. It is now only used by yachts and fishermen with small boats and lobster pots. The larger ''BF'' Banff registered fishing boats now sail from Macduff across the bay and other fishing ports such as Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
The inner basin ''Guthrie's Haven'' was built in 1625; prior to this the mouth of the River Deveron behind a large sand bank known as the ‘Bar’ was used as a natural harbour. The ‘Bar’ was removed during WW2 and the sand used to make concrete for the runways of RAF Banff at Boyndie Aerodrome.
In 1770 civil engineer John Smeaton made improvements to Banff Harbour.
In 1815 herring fishing was first established in Banff.
In 1818, work commenced building Banff Harbour Lighthouse Quay, which was designed by civil engineer Thomas Telford (1757 to 1834). The work was not completed until 1828, being disrupted by a storm in October 1819 which caused considerable damage to the works. Boatbuilding prospered after the Telford extension and exports increased with products such as grain, herrings, salmon, cattle, and cured pork. Imports such as iron, hemp, and flax also increased.
Walter Biggar (1787 to 1867) born in Edinburgh is credited by many as being one of the founders of the herring trade in the Baltic. He settled in Banff in 1821 and married local lass Anne Duff (1784 to 1876). In Kirkcaldy he is said to have begun Sunday school collections for the herring lassies, this money was used to provide basic comforts and medical care for them while they were away from home. The fountain erected in Low Street Banff in 1878 was erected in his memory.
In 1856, Walter Biggar wrote a twenty-page booklet titled ‘A Short Account of the Herring Fishery in Scotland’ for the information of the Scottish Representatives in Parliament, Edinburgh. Walter Biggar’s firm in Banff was later taken over by Nesbit & Co. who had a curing yard in Macduff.
In 1831, the Gas Works was built to the west of Banff Harbour on a site formerly occupied by the ‘Banff Greenland Fishing Company’. Grid Ref: NJ688647.
Also at the harbour formerly stood Banff Saw Mill, a 300ton capacity Morton Patent slip, and the boat-builders yard of Asher and Stevenson.
At the height of the herring industry the harbour accommodated up to ninety fishing boats. Out-with the fishing season the harbour was jam-packed with boats, so much in fact that you could walk across the harbour from boat to boat.
16th November 1846 – Banff RNLI lifeboat man James McDonald died during a rescue attempt when the schooner ‘Pearl’ was driven ashore at Banff. The Banff coble (Lifeboat) manned with seven RNLI volunteers capsized during the rescue. Royal Navy lieutenant William Henry Woodham saved the other six volunteers, and also four men from the schooner when he fired a rocket line to the stricken ship. Woodham was awarded the RNLI silver medal for his efforts. To the memory of James McDonald a sandstone carved block cut with the words ‘McDonald’s Jetty’ was fitted to the East Quay of Banff Harbour. This stone today is very badly eroded and unreadable.
31st March 1860 – Banff Harbour Railway Station opened. The first train to arrive was a goods train which also had a carriage with the company directors. There was a rail line down the pier of the harbour for ease of transport of goods. However, this line was lifted in 1910.
c1900 a small jetty at Banff Harbour was demolished by Alex Davidson, Stone Mason. It is thought this was to allow more access for fishing boats which were becoming larger.
c1935 the lighthouse was erected, prior to this a beacon light ,which needed to be hand-lit stood at the end of the quay.
6th July 1964 – Banff Harbour Railway Station was closed to passengers, but remained open to freight until 1968. It was demolished in 1980.
Banff Harbour is currently Category A listed by Historic Scotland.
For more pictures of Banff Harbour, see ‘A Look Around Banff Harbour ‘at this link: