The Port of Montrose

The port has a long and fascinating history. It is believed Montrose has engaged in seaborne trade since at least the creation of the royal burgh of Montrose in the 12th century. Today it is a thriving, modern port providing a service hub for the North Sea energy industry and general cargo.

The picture panels within the fence, running from the Lifeboat Station in Wharf Street into Hill Street and then into River Street have been selected to reflect some of the activities at the port over the years. They are part of the Montrose South regeneration project led by Angus Council.

Montrose from Ferryden

1. Montrose from Ferryden

A 1941 painting by Montrose born artist Edward Baird (1904-1949). The original can be seen at the Montrose Museum, Panmure Place.

©Angus Council Collections managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

2. Unloading Fish

For many years sea fishing played an important role in the economy of Montrose and Ferryden. Whaling was also undertaken from the port between 1785 and 1839.

© Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

Unloading fish
Boatbuilding Wet Dock

3. Boatbuilding – Wet Dock

The earliest record of boat building at the port is from 1622. There have regularly been boat yards within the port with constant peaks and troughs in the levels of activity. The photograph shows an aluminium lifeboat being produced by Arbuthnott & Sons. Note the wet dock in the background and the railway wagons, the port previously having rail links.

© Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

4. Oil & Gas Vessel

The first oil-supply vessel to use the harbour arrived in May 1971. Regular use began in November 1973 and grew rapidly after the completion of the 40 acre oil-supply base at the Ferryden-Rossie Island side of the river. This development saw the filling in of the Inch burn and the creation of major new facilities on the south side of the river which remain in use today.

©John Aitken, Montrose Port Authority

Oil Gas Vessel
Wet Dock Gates

5. Wet Dock Gates

The excavation and construction of a wet dock on the north side of the South Esk was completed in 1843. It provided 3.5 acres of water and 1,500 feet of wharfage, a significant addition to the facilities in Montrose. In 1981 the dock was filled in to create more storage space and better quay facilities able to handle larger vessels.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

6. Steam Tug Kerne

This vessel was built in Montrose by the Montrose Shipbuilding Company and completed in 1913. Shortly after she was acquired by the Admiralty. She is believed to be the oldest vessel built in Montrose still afloat and the last remaining operational Naval coal fired steamship to have seen service in two World Wars. Today she is owned by ‘The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd’ and can normally be found berthed at the Maritime Museum in Canning Dock, Liverpool.

©Simon Lang, The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Limited

Steam Tug Kerne
Joseph Johnston Sons

7. Joseph Johnston and Sons

Joseph Johnston arrived in Montrose at the age of 25 in about the year 1826. He had worked for a firm of tacksmen at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Later he acquired salmon fishings of his own and began to build up the family business of Joseph Johnston & Sons Ltd, a company synonymous with salmon fishing and fish curing. The business continued to trade into the early part of the 21st century.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

8. Steamers in the Harbour

Steam ships, including paddle steamers, started using the port in the second half of the 19th century. These were often larger vessels from other ports and this led to a significant decline in the number of locally owned and registered ships.

©Courtesy of The Montrose Society

Steamers in the Harbour
Salmon Fishers

9. Salmon Fishers

Salmon fishers pulling at the oars, Montrose Bay c1920s. Montrose has a long history of salmon fishing. The burgh benefitted greatly from having a monopoly on the curing, packing and exporting of salmon along an extended coastline for many centuries. Drag-nets and salmon cobles were widely used in the estuaries and inshore waters.

©Courtesy of the Scottish Fisheries Museum

10. Harbour Morning

Morning at the harbour, an old photograph taken from the north quay with sailing boats in the foreground and the suspension bridge in the background.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

Harbour Morning
Packing Herring

11. Packing Herring

Herring fishing came to the fore at the beginning of the 19th century. This saw the fishing village of Ferryden grow significantly. The volume of herrings caught led to a price crash in 1884 and problems for all the fishing villages on the east coast.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

12. Suspension Bridge

This road suspension bridge across the South Esk was constructed in 1828. It replaced the first crossing, a wooden bridge built around 1792. The suspension bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge in 1931. The present bridge opened in December 2005.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

Suspension Bridge
Ferryden Fishing Fleet

13. Ferryden Fishing Fleet

The ‘Ferryden Fishing Fleet’ – an 1886 painting by Glasgow born artist William Findlay (1875-1960). The original can be seen at the Montrose Museum, Panmure Place.

©Angus Council managed by ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following for assisting with the above information and allowing the use of the images:

ANGUSalive (including Montrose Museum and Angus Archives)

John Aitken, Montrose Port Authority archivist

The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Limited

Simon Lang

‘The Port of Montrose – a history of its harbour, trade and shipping’ – ISBN 1 872167 51 9