Portsoy has two harbours, basically the old, and the new; the old harbour dates from 1697.

The harbours were both once packed with herring drifters and the village had its own salt works.  

The harbours are now only packed two days a year during the annual ‘Scottish Traditional Boat Festival’.

Portsoy marble was shipped all over the world and was notably used in the fireplaces of King Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles in France.

Portsoy was one of the many harbours on the Banffshire coast which was bustling with activity generated by the herring fishing, drifters were the most popular boats mostly Skaffie’s and Zulu’s, and at its peak the fleet totalled 57 boats.

With the introduction of bigger boats and steam around the beginning of the 20th century the majority of the Portsoy fishing fleet had to move to the larger harbours of Macduff and Buckie.

At the entrance to the old harbour are carved water depth measures (see photograph). portsoy harbour water depth marks

During January 1839 the harbour was damaged twice due to storms and gale force winds (January 7th and 30th).  Due to the storms extensive rebuilding work had to be carried out.  

Since then the harbour has stood the blast from the Arctic winds and Moray Firth waves exceptionally well. Recently the high breakwater has been strengthened.

The Macdonald Brother’s had an engineering shop here, and they manufactured many types of equipment for the fishing industry amongst these was the steam capstan referred to as the iron man, the fishermen used it to raise the sails and pull in the drift nets.

The harbours were acquired by the Portsoy Town Council (now the Aberdeenshire Council) in 1932.

Today, the harbour’s at Portsoy''s are only used by small pleasure craft inshore fishermen with their creel boats which they use to catch lobster and crab.

portsoy salmon bothy2008

The ‘Salmon House’ built in 1834 has stood empty for many years but has now been refurbished to its former glory.

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