Stonehaven has always been a naturally sheltered spot on Britain’s North Sea coastline and gradually structures have been built to further enclose the three harbour basins. But piers and breakwaters cost money, so why go to that expense?
A sheltered location is an ideal spot for a ship to dock, so for centuries Stonehaven had hosted trading ships and fishing vessels. By further improving the harbour more boats were attracted to the facilities, resulting in more trade, more money being spent in the local area and more jobs for the local people.
In the 1890s nearly 200 fishing boats were based in and around Stonehaven. The catch was brought in and the boats unloaded onto Shorehead, where workers cleaned, salted and packed the fish. Some barrels of fish were then sent inland and sold in the local area, but the rest were exported out of Stonehaven and sold elsewhere.
At the same time the surrounding farming area exported large quantities of grain, via the dock. (Spot the Old Granary on the map.) Potatoes and whisky were also shipped out, while coal and lime were the main imports coming in.
Unfortunately, things have changed. The fish stocks in the North Sea have declined and most of the large modern fishing boats go elsewhere. There is no longer a fish market in town.
But the harbour is not empty. Today it is used for recreation with the 140 moorings being fully occupied during the summer.