A Stravaig through time
Douglas Gordon on several voluntary community initiatives coming to fruition in Newhaven
Newhaven Heritage is currently working on a virtual heritage trail which has involved much research since it meant going back beyond living memory for some of the fascinating facts that we have uncovered. We look forward to the day when we can publish Newhaven’s story to the web in all its rich detail.
One of the topics we discuss is the derivation of street names, such as Auchinleck’s Brae, Anchorfield and Hawthornvale. As can be seen in WH Lizar’s map of 1840, reproduced here, Newhaven was a largely rural area although the map was drawn to depict proposed new docks and the beginning of the industrialisation of the foreshore.
The ground that was owned by John Auchinleck, or Auchenleck, was extensive, extending in modern terms from what is now Whale Brae to Craighall Road and from Stanley Road down towards the back of Willowbank Row. This was an apple orchard,
The story goes that, come harvest time, Auchinleck would insist that his workers whistled while they gathered in the crop for he knew, canny Newhavener that he was, that you cannot whistle and eat at the same time.
Most of the other houses seen in the map have extensive grounds adding to the openness of the area, a far different appearance to 100 years later and even more so 200 years on with the sea being pushed back and back again.
It is not possible to return to the pastoral idyll we see portrayed but with the constant encroachment on the green spaces in the village of Newhaven it is important to us as a community that we make the most of what we have.
Much has already been achieved, including initiatives from individuals and the Newhaven Heritage Gardens Group. From Spring through to Autumn the back courts are colourful with flowers in pots and plots, a small orchard occupies an area of Auchinleck Court, now with trees of fig and pear. There are a number of other pockets which will abound with wild flowers year on year.
The previously unloved patch of ground on the south side of Main Street we call the Armada Garden is now verdant for all to enjoy with flowers and fruit in season. It was given this title due to a stone bearing the emblem of Trinity House and a Scottish galleon inscribed with the date 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, which is now inset in the gable end of the building here. (To find out more you will need to follow the Stravaig!)
Opposite is the Old Burial Ground now tended by the Garden Group members. A new greenhouse, funded by an Arnold Clark Community Grant, will soon be growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for the benefit of the people of Newhaven.
Leadership of the Gardens Group has been handed over from Heather to Moira who also happens to be manager of the After Schools Clubs of Victoria and Trinity Primary schools.
By involving the children in growing flowers, fruit and vegetables, Moira is building on the practice that Heather established engaging pupils of the After Schools Club because many of Newhaven’s flat-living children are unaware of how plants grow. The planting season is fast approaching and the youngsters are impatient to do what they love the most — getting their hands dirty.
Newhaven Heritage has installed barrel planters at the harbour that are resplendent when in full bloom. Flowers in pots and tubs are always a delight to look at but are forever thirsty. With more help coming forward, the Gardens Group could plant up more containers and keep them watered.
This is a unique project blossoming from the grassroots and the desires of the children involved. We listen to local people, delivering environmental options for the community and creating window boxes with herbs, produce and colour! All ages are involved.
High School students lent a hand building window boxes, doing one-off clear up days and providing enthusiasm and energy for the garden projects.
The local Asda supermarket has been very supportive and recently provided us with lots of daffodils bulbs and we are looking forward to seeing them wave to us cheerily in the Spring sunshine.
We are fortunate to have secured the support of the CEC Community Fund. This has allowed us to acquire the expert services of a professional gardener who will be on hand to encourage and advise our volunteers.
There is still much we seek to achieve and new helpers would be welcome, enthusiasm and willingness being the only qualifications. Contact Moira at email@example.com for more details.
The Gardens Group have plans to locate a free lending library in the Armada Garden and a bird table in the Old Burial Ground — a perfect place to identify what birds live in our area as well as finding out what they like to eat. ■
Info: Contact Moira at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
1840 Newhaven map by WH Lizars. Courtesy of Peter Stubbs at edinphoto.org.uk