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Home > Research > Vernacular Harbours > The Project Themes > Maritime Trades, Crafts and Industries

Led by Dr Robert Prescott, Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews; Honorary Vice President, Scottish Fisheries Museum.

It is natural to think of harbours in the first instance as safe havens for ships and boats. However, as harbours develop they attract many skilled crafts and industries that support the sea-faring way of life and provide employment for maritime communities. Research may therefore reveal the presence of ship and boat builders, rope makers, sail makers and riggers, blacksmiths and anchor smiths, all of which are essential in the building and maintaining of boats for the sea. Among the minor but still important trades to be found locally may be block and pump makers, basket makers, fish processors, coopers and oilskin makers.

These crafts may have much in common with similar crafts in landward communities but the specific demands of the marine environment modify them and make them uniquely identifiable as maritime trades.

Many of these trades may no longer survive around the harbour today but their former presence can be confirmed by cartographic and topographical survey or by research in documentary archive collections. In some locations even surviving buildings may be found, converted to new uses but still displaying features reminding us of their original function.

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