TAMH: Source Material
Arbroath Harbour 1895-6 from Arbroath Year Book, 1896 - 1| 2| 3| 4| 5| 6| 7

Annual 1985

David G. Adams Reviews the Heyday of


Picture inset: Arbroath Harbour and the Inner Dock just before the turn of the century. The veritable forest of masts illustrates just how much repair work there must have been at one time for local yards.

Picture courtesy Signal Tower Museum.

Shipbuilding through the ages is a fascinating subject which over the centuries, has resulted in the publication of books without number as wall as specialist articles relating to virtually every vessel which has sailed oceans, seas and inland waterways of the world.

It is an unfortunate fact, however, that the origins of shipbuilding in Arbroath are unrecorded. The limited documentary evidence suggests that, before the mid-18th century, very few vessels, if any, were built here, except, perhaps, for fishing boats or an occasional coalbark of 20 - 30 tons burthen, or less.

Prior to 1736, Arbroath had little foreign commerce, its seaborne trade was said to have consisted of smuggling (which was endemic in the early 18th century), and the export of fish, with an occasional import of timber from Norway. Flax, iron and other imports came from Dundee and Montrose, where finished linen cloth produced in Arbrtoath by domestic spinners and weavers was sold.

Arbroath may have had more direct foreign trade in the middle ages when it exported hides, wool and fish, than it had in the period circa 1550 to 1750.