Article from the Banffshire Journal dated 29 Sept 1891 

New Harbour and Railway at Hopeman.

“Articles similar to this on the development of villages and towns were written by the various newspaper reporters from local and near local newspapers to keep communities advised as to what was being done to improve the area”.  

For the advancement of the interests of the Morayshire fishing village of Hopeman there is at present being expended a sum of from £25,000 to £30,000, and this without any member of the public or the public through any representative body coming under any monitory obligation, or with the likelihood of incurring any additional expenditure. It is a large sum to be spent on a village of about 1500 inhabitants, the great majority of whom are fishermen who seek their income, and to that extent make their expenditure, in various parts of Scotland and England, but it is hoped, and there is some reason for believing that the hope is well founded, that the enterprise displayed by a generous landlord and by the Highland Railway Company will be duly rewarded by a return in some measures for large outlays in the business that will be conducted in Hopeman of increased size and importance. Letters have been addressed ‘Hopeman near Burghead’.   Many in the former village hope that letters may soon me addressed ‘Burghead near Hopeman’.  Between the ancient and historical ’burgh’ that stands on a promontory of the Moray Firth, with its bay extending towards Findhorn and directly overlooking the Cluny Hill at Forres, which, with its conspicuous monument, is very plainly seen across the waters, and the more widely spread but not less neat village of Hopeman, there is a friendly rivalry. The results produced by it are to the benefit of both towns, and it may not therefore be condemned.

In a few days there will be finished the new and extended harbour at Hopeman. It is afforded employment to a staff of workmen for a considerable period. Last week, the piles were arranged for the construction of the last portion of the outer pier, and when some excavations have been made to provide for deeper water inside the piers, the village will be provided with a harbour amply suited to its requirements, and which should do much to develop its industries.

For many years, the fishermen of Hopeman have been handicapped by the want of suitable harbour accommodation. The adjoining village of Burghead had a harbour since 1805 the year in which the village of Hopeman was founded by the late Mr William Young of Burghead, and extensions and improvements made on it in 1832 and 1835, and more particularly in 1858, when, acting the powers of an Act of Parliament, the harbour was deepened and improved, have resulted in the provision to the village of Burghead of one of the safest and deepest harbours in the north. When the estate of Hopeman came in 1837 into the late Admiral Duff of Drummuir, there was only one slated house in the village, and the harbour was little better than a natural creek. By Admiral Duff, however, an excellent small harbour was erected suitable for the trade of the place; and in 1865, a new and more commodious harbour was erected by the present proprietor, Mr Gordon Duff of Park and Hopeman, the engineer being Mr Bremner, Wick.  Over a quarter of a century has gone since then, and again it has been found necessary, in the interests of the place, to extend the harbour accommodation. This extension has been provided by a large addition to the old harbour, and by a continuation of its outlines.

The old harbour was somewhat of the resemblance of a square, with a considerable curve at the north end. It consisted of a single basin, smaller than the basin that has just been constructed, and, as in the new harbour, the entrance was from the west. The piers were built in ‘dry stone’ and the constant action of the water and the effects of time have resulted in parts of being somewhat shaken. The new addition to the harbour consists of the extension of the north pier of the old harbour and the construction of a west pier with jetty, which enclose a safe and commodious basin. The new piers are most substantial. Between an outer and an inner wall of Portland cement concrete, the intervening space is filled with a harting of quarry rubble and boulders, with twelve inches of concrete on the top, which forms an admirably finished road-way. The foundations on which the piers rest are of rock, which was found was covered at some places to a small depth with sand and shingle. On the piers are parapets of cement concrete. The north pier of the old harbour has been extended to a distance of about 260 feet, and the extension is 36 feet wide. The new west pier, with its jetty is the principal shelter of the new basin, is 420 feet in length and over 20 feet in width, and the jetty has a total length of 101 feet. Five recesses, each two feet wide, have been provided in various parts of the new harbour, and in these ladders have been built for the convenience fishermen. All the material used in the construction of the harbour is of excellent quality, the cement having been tested by machine power before it was allowed to be applied.

Excavations will be made for the purpose of deepening the channels. The greater part of the new basin is three feet below low water at ordinary spring tides, thus ensuring a good supply of water in all states of the tide. Other parts of the basin are taken down to a foot below low water at spring tides. The entrance is seventy feet in width, and is formed by the jetty from the new west pier and extension of the north pier at the old harbour. At the point of the north pier there will be an average depth at low water at ordinary spring tides of from seven to eight feet. To provide for this, excavations have still to be made at the pier. The pier and the adjoining basin are sheltered from north and east winds by a parapet wall over ten feet in height.

In both the old and new harbours there are large spending beaches, providing safe accommodation for the laying up of boats. From the south end of the west pier a new roadway has been constructed, giving convenient access to boats lying at the new basin. The works have been completed with immunity from disaster. Delay has been occasioned by stormy weather, and from same cause some loss has also been incurred. The storm of a week ago, although it swept rails, boxes, timber, and everything movable from the quay, happily did no damage to the concrete, despite the soft condition at the part of the pier in course of construction, illustrating the good workmanship that has throughout been employed.

Much benefit is expected to result from the provision of the new harbour. It affords extensive berthing accommodation, and is admirably suited as a place of refuge from an easterly storm. It is not anticipated that shipping traffic will be greatly increased, but it is expected that the increased benefits which they will experience will induce fishermen to stay more at home and prosecute the fishing from Hopeman. At present the larger class of herring fishing boats are beached for eight or nine months of the year, haddock yawls being very largely used on account of their comparatively small draft of water it is believed that fishermen with the advantages they will enjoy in respect of both a new harbour and a new railway accommodation will use more than ever the large class of boats instead of allowing them to be blistered and destroyed on land by strong heat or extreme cold.     It will tend also to the development of the herring fishing of the port. This season over thirty boats engaged in the herring fishing from Hopeman and delivered their catches to four curers. There is no reason why the numbers should not be greatly increased, and it is believed that by another year this will be realised.

The new harbour has been erected by Mr Gordon Duff, the proprietor of Hopeman. The original estimate was, it is understood, about £9,000, but, as in the cases of most marine works, the estimate has been exceeded. The plans were prepared by Mr John Willett, C.E. Aberdeen, and since his death the engineering work has been under the charge of Mr Barron C.E. Aberdeen. The contractor was Mr Pirie, Aberdeen. Our sketch of the harbour are from a plan prepared by Mr Alex Shand C.E. Highland Railway.

Not only by sea, but by land, works are in progress for development of the industries of Hopeman. There was commenced in November last, and, as stipulated in the contract, there will be finished by 1 June 1892, an extension of the Highland Railway Company line from Burghead to Hopeman.  In 1861 a line of railway was formed from the Alves station of the Highland Railway, the year after the Findhorn harbour was connected with the through system of railway by the formation of the Findhorn railway from Kinloss station. Unlike the latter line, however, which has been abandoned, the Burghead railway has been continued, and has aided materially in the development of its resources. The extension of the line to Hopeman has for long been a dream of many: it will, it is hoped, by another year be a realised fact.

Considerable progress has already been made with the railway works. A commencement was made at the Hopeman end, and already a part of the line is in order for the reception of the permanent way; bridges are in the course of erection, embankments and cuttings are being made; and there is every prospect that in June next trains will be running along the coast of one of the finest agricultural parishes in Morayshire.

The line will extend to 2 miles 622 yards, and few extensions have been made at a smaller outlay in respect of compensation for the occupation of cultivated land. Almost wholly the line will be formed in waste lands skirting the sea. Below a surface of sand is a stratum of hard clay which covers rock, mostly freestone.

The line will leave Burghead at a point nearly opposite Mr Adams Chemical Works. It will go under High Street and an over line bridge, suited to a double line, will be built for the road, which will have to be banked up several feet, in order to reduce gradient. Here for some distance the ground is quite level. After going through the bridge the line will curve round in an easterly direction towards the sea, near which it continues until Hopeman is reached. The first big cutting is at a point near the Mason Haugh quarry, now disused, about half a mile from Burghead. It is a deep cutting through hard clay and rock. At the highest part it is 36 feet deep, and the cutting is about 1000 feet in length. The line emerges from the cutting below the village of Cummingston, a small crofting village on the estate of Sir William Gordon Cumming, and near the Greenbrae quarry, where a station will be erected adding to the value of the quarry, where is obtained the finest freestone in the north and suiting the requirements of Cummingston. Between the Mason Haugh and Greenbrae quarries there will be two bridges, one of which is almost completed. Before Hopeman is reached, another rocky cutting, 20 feet in depth, has had to be made. At Hopeman, the station will be built near the top of the harbour. It will occupy a site of ground at present partly occupied by two houses, and these will have to be demolished. In the course of the line there will be about seven bridges, with four or five smaller bridges, technically known as cattle creeps.

From Burghead to Hopeman the scenery from the line is pretty. Tarbet Ness lighthouse is seen in the distance, and the hills of Caithness are plainly visible. Nearer at hand, on the south side of the firth, are to be found curiously water warren rocks, and, where the rock is soft, large caves with pillars formed of rock of harder material. On the journey, near Cummingston, are past pools of water enclosed in large rocky cavities, which some, with similar or more numerous antiquities near Burghead, associate with Roman civilisation.

When the line is opened, the terminal station will be removed from Burghead to Hopeman, an advantage to some extent to the latter village. The new harbour and the railway will both add to its prosperity; and, under a new era, a lease of increased vigour and success should be experienced.  At present, tradesmen, curers, and fishermen alike are at a disadvantage in the absence of railway communications. Traffic between Hopeman and the outside world is carried on by public carriers, such as Messrs Wordie & Co, and the dispatch of fresh fish to the south is done under only great difficulties. When the line is opened, fresh fish may leave Hopeman at four or five o’clock and be on a breakfast table at Glasgow early the next morning. At present this is impossible, so that the curing of white fish is engaged into a considerable expense. An opinion has been expressed that when railway communication is enjoyed the yellowing of white fish will fall into desuetude. Business at the fine free stone quarries, which have for long been most successfully wrought between Burghead and Hopeman, will share in the benefit conferred on the general community by the advantages accruing from railway communication. The engineer on the railway is Mr Murdoch Patterson, engineer of the Highland Railway Company, whose interests during its construction is attended by Mr Alex Shand, C.E.  Mr Pirie, Aberdeen is contractor.