North Berwick Harbour Project


North Berwick, Scotland


East Lothian Council




The Harbour at North Berwick in East Lothian, Scotland, was originally a ferry port for pilgrims travelling to St Andrews in Fife. Today the water is home to leisure craft, a famous tourist launch and the remains of the fishing fleet that once dominated the area, while on dry land the Scottish Seabird Centre, East Lothian Yacht Club and Auld Kirk Green are the main attractions.

The harbour was built around 1150, with the first documented record of its existence coming in 1177. In the early days there were ferry services to Earlsferry near Elie in Fife, with up to 10,000 pilgrims passing through the port every year. When North Berwick received the Royal Charter and became a Royal Burgh in 1373, the design of a ferryboat was incorporated into the town crest, which remains unchanged today. However, pilgrims gradually became few and far between and after over 500 years of operation the ferry services had disappeared by 1692.

The latter half of the 19th century also saw a boom in tourism, as wealthy families discovered North Berwick to be an ideal escape from the overcrowded cities. As well as Edinburgh, train services to North Berwick came direct from as far afield as London as people came to relax, walk, shoot and golf in the area. The outdoor swimming pool at the harbour was a focal point for galas and competitions, while visitors with an interest in nature were able to enjoy the island bird colonies of Bass Rock and Fidra.

Although the red sandstone harbour and buildings have changed little in their external appearance, the old granary is now home to modern flats and the interior of many others have been remodelled for housing, boat storage or office space. The Scottish Seabird Centre has become a major tourist attraction since opening in 2000 and tourists can still take Sula II to see the gannets, puffins and other birdlife in the area. The outdoor swimming pool finally closed in 1996. It has since been filled in and is now dinghy park, although some of the original buildings and viewing galleries still remain intact.

The East Lothian Yacht Club is an accredited centre of sailing and sail training excellence and hosts national and international yachting and boating events from the harbour. The racing and cruising yachts of ELYC members now make up the bulk of vessels in the harbour, with a fishing fleet of just 3. Just up the road along the old causeway from the harbour is the RNLI Lifeboat station, with one of the famous Blue Peter lifeboats always on call.


Kite responded quickly to meet the customer requirement of a hand-railing system that could be fitted on different levels. We proposed the two ball standards handrail system with bending service to all tubes engaged in the sloped staircases. The bending service formed D-return bends that helped to give smooth ends for the system. Providing the galvanised handrail system on the run helped to attain safety for every staff member, visitor, and technician. Kite also supplied galvanised stair treads with pyramid nosing to guarantee safety on different floor levels and anti-slip use when bad weather occurs. 


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