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Kinlochbervie Harbour

Kinlochbervie Harbour
[58.458037, -5.051885]
Brendan O’Hanrahan
North West Highlands Geopark

The history of piers in the Kinlochbervie area begins with plans for a pier drawn up by the Sutherland Estate in 1885, which was later built in 1908.  In 1947 the Harbour was rebuilt (or extended, as part of a programme of capital investment in Scotland after WWII, which was funded by the Sutherland County…

The history of piers in the Kinlochbervie area begins with plans for a pier drawn up by the Sutherland Estate in 1885, which was later built in 1908.  In 1947 the Harbour was rebuilt (or extended, as part of a programme of capital investment in Scotland after WWII, which was funded by the Sutherland County Council. The renovation of the pier now made Loch Clash accessible for larger whitefish trawlers from the big fishing ports, such as Buckie, Banff and Peterhead.

Fish Market at Kinlochbervie 1950’s

In the years immediately following the harbour improvements there was a large increase in landings, with whitefish averaging £1,000 a month and £14,000 worth of herring landed in summer and autumn. As part of the deal to get the new pier built, the Kinlochbervie community guaranteed that there would be 15 women available to gut and salt the herring. Since food was still very much part of a state-supervised system, with rationing still in place, the distribution of landed fish at the pier was overseen by a ‘Fish Allocation Officer’ from the Food Ministry, but the new harbour benefited from the fact that the government paid for the transport charges to the next ‘point of distribution’, which in this case was presumably to the railhead at Lairg,  50 miles away by single-track road.

In 1961, a new jetty in Loch Bervie was built, at a cost of £56,000. Initially it intended to provide berthing for boats using Loch Clash, which lacked adequate shelter. Although, the narrowness and shallowness of the mouth of Loch Bervie precluded its use by bigger boats, for a while. Later, money was spent to widen the mouth, but this was seen as insufficient and there was a campaign for many years to get the government to pay for the necessary works to make it a viable landing harbour for the bigger boats.

Image : Loch Clash Harbour and Coney Island, Kinlochbervie, 1910s

In 1961, a new jetty in Loch Bervie was built, at a cost of £56,000. Initially it intended to provide berthing for boats using Loch Clash, which lacked adequate shelter. Although, the narrowness and shallowness of the mouth of Loch Bervie precluded its use by bigger boats, for a while. Later, money was spent to widen the mouth, but this was seen as insufficient and there was a campaign for many years to get the government to pay for the necessary works to make it a viable landing harbour for the bigger boats. 

Despite this, and the improvements dedicated to the Lochinver facilities, Kinlochbervie remained narrowly ahead in total landings throughout the 1960s. There was considerable unhappiness at the apparent favouritism shown to Lochinver, not that people begrudged Lochinver the investment, but more that they thought Kinlochbervie should get similar treatment. However, by the late 1960s landings had evened out between the two ports and distributions were almost equal between Lochs Clash and Bervie. 

In 1988, the fish handling depot was built, with a big breakthrough in on-site processing, happening in the mid-1960s when Pulfords invested £63,000 in facilities by Loch Bervie, which employed 14 people directly, with another 38 being employed in ancillary capacities.

Image: Kinlochbervie Harbour 1980’s

“Kinlochbervie harbour has in recent times diversified and there is now a thriving import trade from the Faroe Islands. Faroese trawlers bring in fish to the market and there is also the import of Faroese fish food for the salmon farming industry which is held in a custom made facility for onward distribution to fish farms throughout Scotland.”

Additional Reading:

https://www.kinlochbervie.info/kinlochbervie-during-the-1940s#&gid=1106341094&pid=2

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1967/apr/10/fishing-industry-north-west-sutherland

http://ports.org.uk/port.asp?id=521 

https://www.kinlochbervie.info/kinlochbervie-harbour

https://www.kinlochbervie.info/local-history-old

Image Acknowledgements :

Fish Market at Kinlochbervie, 1950s, J, Nairn, Highland Photographic Archive, Am Baile: 20529. Copyright: Highland Photographic Archive

Kinlochbervie Harbour, northwest Sutherland, 1980s, PFW Grant, Am Baile: 297000. Copyright: PFW Grant

Loch Clash Harbour and Coney Island, Kinlochbervie, 1910s, Highland Libraries Postcard Collection, Highland Libraries, Am Baile: 32000. Copyright: Highland Libraries

General plan of Loch Clash Pier, Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, Nov 1954, Crown Copyright. National Records of Scotland, RHP93953/34. Copyright: NRS