N E W S F E E D S >>>

History of Wick
Evolution of Wick

 Wick A - Z Page

 Caithness History           Museums and Exhibitions 

THE EVOLUTION OF WICK - 1589-1883

1589 Wick becomes a royal burgh

1608 The town of Wick was only about one mile long and was very fragmented. Market Place is probably the oldest part of the town.

1660 Burgh records reveal that Wick had ten merchants, six tailors, five weavers, four smiths, five shoemakers and four coopers.

1665 The population of Wick was no more than 500. One of the first references to a bridge in Wick (glovers and shoemakers were reprimanded for beating their skins upon it!).

1767 Three local merchants - John Sutherland of Wester, John Anderson of Wick and Alexander Miller of Staxigoe - fished for herring with great success.

1786 The British Fishing Society was founded.

1789 One hundred kits of salmon, each containing forty pounds of fish, were sent to London every year from Wick.

1790 Thirty-two local boats fished from Wick.

1795 Up to 200 boats were fishing from Wick.

Late 1700s The British Fisheries Society bought 390 acres of land for the harbour and settlements

Early 1800s The town consisted of three main portions - Wick to the north of Wick Water, Louisburgh and Pulteneytown.

1801 Thomas Telford's first known report on Wick, although he almost certainly furnished some sort of report before this

1803 Telford produced a revised plan for the harbour and town.

1805 Work started mainly on the new "Pulteney Town" and a three-arch stone bridge over the river.

1806 A grant of 7500 became available from the forfeited estates and the harbour work began.

1810 The first real harbour - prior to this small jetties were used.

1813 Harbour work completed.

1818 Some seven curing-houses, 12 cooperages and 108 dwellings had been built in Pulteneytown.

1823 As a result of the first harbour, plans for a second harbour were put into being. At this time it was noted that "1500 boats go out in an evening and 200,000 barrels are caught in the season, the very refuse of which will manure several hundred acres of land". Some 12,000 people found employment in the fishing season.

1825 Most of Pulteney completed.

1840 The Rev Charles Thomson wrote: "The herring fishing has increased wealth, but also wickedness...There is a great consumption of spirits, there being 22 public houses in Wick and 23 in Pulteneytown...Seminaries of Satan and Belial". It was not unusual at this time for 500 gallons of whiskey to be consumed in one day. Meanwhile, 55,711 barrels of cured herring were being exported from Wick.

1855 A total of 1489 men and boys were fishing from Wick.

1860 Wick lay 290 miles to the north of Edinburgh by road.

1860 The gross value of herring exporting in one year was between 150,000 and 200,000.

1860 The estimated population of the town was approximately 6722 and was home to these traders among many others: 81 fish-curers, 10 fleshers, 46 grocers, 7 bakers, 20 tailors and 13 dressmakers.

1862 A total of 1122 boats were now fishing from Wick.

1863 The foundation stone of a much larger harbour was laid but work was interrupted several times by severe storms.

1865 The eastern breakwater was built and the first half-decked boats made their appearance.

1868 The telegraph service came to Caithness.

1873 Harbour extension work was so badly damaged that the scheme is abandoned after 150,000 had been spent on it.

1874 The railway was extended to Caithness, connecting Wick and Thurso to southern markets.

1877 Telford's bridge replaced by one of similar style.

1879 The British Fisheries Society ceased to be trustees and the management of the harbour was handed to a local trust of 19 members.

1882 An abundant supply of "excellent" water was introduced in Wick, taken from the Loch of Yarrows.

1883 Partial extensions of Wick Burgh took place to include Louisburgh, Broadhaven, Janetstown and East and West Banks.

Wings Over Wick - World War Two