Cellardyke Sea Queen - Descriptive Summary.


Cellardyke fishermen had been professional full time fishermen since at least the 16th century, fishing herring in the Minch and cod in distant waters as well as the local haddock fisheries. This was unlike most of the Scottish fishing communities of that time who were part timers, crofting as well as fishing when the shoals of herring appeared near their villages or small line fishing during at the local haddock season.

By the mid-19th Century Cellardyke was one of Scotland’s main fishing communities, the fleet outgrew the small harbour at Skinfasthaven and relocated mainly to Anstruther’s new Union Harbour in the 1860’s and 1870’s, it was only due to the better rock formations enabling better harbour facilities that the dominant fishing fleet moved there. Anstruther district at this time owned 13% of the value of the whole Scottish fishing fleet and in the early 1890’s 10% of Scotland’s white fish was landed in Anstruther. Cellardyke fishermen owned about 160 boats, a fleet so large that almost 700 part time fishermen from the Highlands, Islands and Ireland were employed to crew them during the herring season, most of these boats were the largest first class boats of the era and others were smaller for the small inshore line fishing. Cellardyke fishermen were instrumental in the development into steam line fishing in the late 19th century but changing practices and global warfare with the loss of markets started a slow decline. 1936 was a top year landing herring in Anstruther, but by the end of WW2 the herring had all but disappeared locally. White fish fishing from local ports continued but those fish also disappeared by the 1990s and it is now shell fish that have maintained a much smaller fleet in the East Neuk of Fife.

Cellardyke produced significant merchant seafarers, Captain Alex Rodger of the famous Ariel and Taeping, clipper race. Stephen Williamson founder of Balfour Williamson shipping line in Liverpool, and Walter Heughs of Wallaroo once the richest man in Australia. Press ganged Cellardyke fishermen served in Nelson’s navy, at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and local folklore tells of them being on HMS Victory at Trafalgar. One particular famous story is of Mary Buick searching for and finding her pressed husband, Thomas Watson, following him to sea and working on his ships, she also gave birth to their daughter aboard HMS Ardent.

Cellardyke supported the many business that were required to maintain such a huge fleet, there were three oilskin factories. One of which won gold medals at International Fisheries Exhibitions in the 1880s for its clothing, and another supplying waterproofs to the British Olympic team in the 1950s. Boatbuilders, Coopers, curers, boot factories, net factories, sailmakers, rope manufacturers etc as well as all the bakeries and shops required to provide provisions to the fleet thrived in the village. Today all these local business have disappeared and evidence of the industrial and social past is less and less evident, or known as the historic houses become holiday homes or the last of the generations of folk connected to the fishing die out or move on for new families with no local history knowledge to take their place.

Anstruther area was once three Royal Burghs, Anstruther Wester, Anstruther Easter, and Kilrenny and Cellardyke and. In the 1930’s these burghs combined into one to become the ‘United Burghs’.

Due to the positioning of the Customs House, railway station and the fact that Anstruther harbour was where the fleet worked from followed by the above political Union, over the years Anstruther became the dominant town. Many residents in Cellardyke now do not know or understand the separate community that was a dominant force in Scotland’s fishing industry, a strongly independent community that thrived across the Cauddie’s Burn. There is now only a small sign at the foot of Burnside road to indicate you are entering a separate village. This group feel the time is right to involve the Cellardyke residents and try to instil pride in this unique village and its distinct history.

Cellardyke Sea Queen

The Cellardyke Sea Queen ceremony first took place in 1948 to celebrate the unique Cellardyke fishing community and relationship with the sea. A local high school girl was crowned and many local worthies got involved, some of the local curers and fisher lassies gave demonstrations of their work. The event took place at the now ruined outdoor bathing pool known in Cellardyke as ‘the pond’. This annual ceremony continued for decades including primary school boys as Heralds and Master at Arms, and younger girls as attendants, latterly the ceremony took place in Cellardyke Harbour with the local fishing boat Fruitful II bringing the new queen from Anstruther. The town was bedecked with bunting and many other local boats came into the harbour too. Hundreds of people gather each year to witness the event with large numbers participating as well as being involved in the planning. It was a real community event. The last ceremony to take place after the continuous run was in 1990 with a millennium revival in 2000. It is felt that now is the time to revive the ceremony to help the community bond together and celebrate its past.


‘Heritage is at the heart of the tourism industry, attracting overseas visitors and bringing investment into local economies. Heritage projects can re-energise neglected areas, creating vibrant places to live and work. And they can foster a real sense of community.’ Heritage Lottery Fund

The decision to celebrate and revive the Sea Queen ceremony is to focus on the community of Cellardyke, past and present, to use the wealth of historical information and unique visual opportunities to inspire the current community to gain a shared understanding of our heritage, giving people an opportunity to learn and get involved in living history projects, engaging with individuals, groups and clubs to share knowledge and experience and tell visitors about the collective history.

The evidence of a bustling industrial and social past has all but disappeared, the Sea Queen Ceremony is a vehicle to bring groups and individuals together to inspire them to work together as a modern community sharing the past, engaging adults, young people and children to make a contribution to the village’s heritage and create economic benefit to the area.

The Event, the Procession and Ceremony

There are significant historical aspects to bring together which show respect to the last 80 years of development in the Burghs/ Parishes, and so we will begin the event at Anstruther Harbour, as it did in the past.

Cellardyke became part of the United Burghs in the 1930s until the dissolution of the Town Councils in the early 1970’s. The Parish Churches, Anstruther Wester originally joined with Anstruther Easter and recently Cellardyke and Anstruther have linked to become St. Ayle Parish, with Kilrenny being less formally linked with them.

The ceremony will be on Saturday 14th July 2018, to suit high tides at 16.14 on that day.

Cellardyke fishermen were deeply religious and it is felt that the community of the local churches should be involved. The minister led a prayer at the original ceremonies. For the month leading up to the event in each of the three church buildings, Anstruther, Cellardyke and Kilrenny one of the symbols of the Sea Queen will be placed there and their symbolic significance referred to by the minister in his/ her sermons,. These are the Crown, the Sceptre and the Proclamation.


On the day of the Ceremony. There will be a stage set up on the Folly (harbourside) in Anstruther harbour in front the historic fishing vessel the Reaper.

A historic character, Bobby Bell, the town crier will call the audience together and introduce the outgoing Sea Queen, and some of the community groups represented in the up and coming procession. One Piper will then escort the Crown from the west end of the harbour representing the Royal Burgh of Anstruther Wester, to the stage, followed by a second piper to escort the Sceptre down the hill (Hadfoot Wynd) representing the Royal Burgh of Anstruther Easter, and a third piper will escort The proclamation, the Anster Fisher Lass and Lad and the new Sea Queen to the stage from the East and the Scottish Fisheries Museum, representing the Royal Burgh of Kilrenny and Cellardyke.

The outgoing queen will round off her reign in a short speech and welcome the new queen. She will then send off the fleet of small historic vessels to Cellardyke harbour. The new queen will be given her sash by the Fisher Lad and Fisher Lass and escorted on to the Reaper and they will then leave for Cellardyke too.

The community groups will gather in a set order to process east towards Cellardyke along the streets.

The Town Cryer will lead the procession followed by the Pipers, the outgoing Sea Queen and the symbols of office leading the community groups.


A second stage is set on the Bulwark

A second master of ceremonies will be based at Cellardyke Harbour entertaining those who have already gathered. This character will be representing the Provost of the Burghs and will be an excellent raconteur. There will be other living history characters circulating and playing their parts mixing with the visitors and audience. And the harbour will be dressed as if it were still a working fishing harbour of the late 19th century.

The small historic vessels will enter the harbour and tie up along the outer harbour wall to create a visual backdrop.

The Reaper will then enter with the Sea Queen and tie up by the steps on the west pier

The arrival by sea of the new Sea Queen and the procession will be approximately the same time, but it will take a short time for the Reaper to safely tie up and dis embark the new Queen. The Provost will explain all aspects of what is happening and the characters that are circulating the crowds.

The ceremony is bullet pointed in Appendix 2 Cellardyke Sea Queen Outline Draft Version 3 22/8/2017

At the end of the ceremony the newly crowned Sea Queen will be presented with a wreath of Sea Pinks representing all those from the United Burghs who have been lost to the sea. The minister or representative of the churches will provide a blessing to the crowds and all sea farers.

The Sea Queen will then return to the Reaper with a lone piper, the vessel and fleet will return to sea hopefully to be met by the current lifeboat, The Sea Queen place the wreath east of the Wolf Skellies (rocks that have been cut back but claimed many sailing fisherman’s lives while trying to enter the harbour) just off the Cellardyke bathing pond and the ‘Lost fisherman’s lament’ will be played by the piper. If the coast guard will allow it after the wreath is laid a single signal flare will be fired to signal a minute’s silence on both land and sea. The fleet will return to Anstruther escorted by the lifeboat.


The Kirking

On Sunday the 15th July, a Kirking Service will be held at Cellardyke Church, Ex Sea Queens will welcome to be in the congregation to celebrate the Kirking of the new queen

Post Ceremony Celebrations

A sub group has been formed to look at post ceremony entertainment and celebrations. The extent of these will be determined by the size and experience of the group of volunteers.

We would recommend that if a music stage and marquee is erected it does not happen at the harbour but further east of the town green to keep the harbour vista as historical as possible. The crowds will be lead along there by the town crier to witness the fleet at sea and the firing of the flare. After the flare has been fired and the minute silence a band could begin to play to signal the continuing entertainment part of the event and the opening of any stalls etc.

The Duties of the Sea Queen

A vital aspect of the lead up to the celebration and the following year is to ensure that the event is not seen as outdated or sexist. We will ensure that the duties of the Sea Queen are meaningful.

Because this is the 70th Anniversary and we are celebrating a historic ceremony, out of necessity 2017 will be a Sea Queen’s year, (it may be in future with the input of the young people that the main character may be male). The participants, The Sea Queen, her attendants and her committee will take part in events over the year that will prove of value as volunteering opportunities, valuable to them and the community at large.

These opportunities will also count towards volunteering awards such as Duke of Edinburgh, or Fife Voluntary Action Awards.

The Young Ambassadors

The 2017 Sea Queen will chair a Committee, made up of her attendants, a Sea Queen Committee member, and two others to be invited by herself. (Senior male students at the Waid Academy should be encouraged to balance off the committee)

The first committee will draw up a Mission Statement, and this will be the basis of how future committees will work.

The Sea Queen should look at how they can

 Equality within the Committee

 Create intergenerational links

 Support the older generation especially in care homes or those isolated within the community

 Market Cellardyke and Anstruther to the tourism sector

 Educate and involve the local community in Cellardyke’s rich history, and contemporary environment.

 Create a lasting legacy.


Cellardyke is a historically unique harbour.

Due to the geographical positioning and nature of this historic harbour, it has a dangerous entrance and moorings that at certain sea states and tides make the whole harbour unusable, it has remained unspoiled from modern fittings and trappings that would come with contemporary usage. It cannot have marina facilities fitted as they and any boat will be destroyed in any South Easterly storm surge.

Many similar small harbours across Scotland have been left to fall into disrepair or filled in, Cellardyke however is in good repair and should be used to advantage. Cellardyke harbour will create an exceptional backdrop to the ceremony.

Even within the picturesque villages of the East Neuk, none compare with Cellardyke, as all the other harbours are regularly used by modern vessels.



The highly successful Scottish Traditional Boat festival in Portsoy draws thousands of visitors each year to their historic harbour, their boat visitors vary from fishing vessels to yachts and any style of old boats, these mix with modern vessels that use the harbour diluting the historical picture. The festival also coincides with the Portsoy annual St Ayles Skiff Regatta, another fantastic event which again breaks up the historical image.

Limekilns River festival

Limekilns in Fife has in recent years started a festival that also attracts old vessels but once again these mix with modern boats.

An exceptional opportunity

We have the opportunity with such a small unspoiled unused harbour to exclude modern vessels and create a historical picture with the size of vessels that used to work out of this harbour which would be totally unique in the UK. (See appendix 1 for the vessels that may take part)


Community actors will be used to mix within the visiting crowds and take on specific historical characters will be vital to the interaction with the visitors for a quality of experience.

The creation of these characters will require participants/ actors to research their character’s history educating and giving ownership of the local history to the participants.

Other participating groups will be encouraged to turn out in costume and participate in the tableau. For example children playing with gird and cleek in the harbour area would add to the local participation and the historic community image.

Parts of Shore Street will be dressed to make look as they appear in historic photos, with characters positioned to interact with the public.

Living History Characters

Several characters have been selected to represent the townsfolk in the initial year, if more community actors wish to be involved more characters will be researched.

Bishop James Kennedy

(1408 1465.) Catholic Bishop of St Andrews, Chancellor of Scotland during James II’s minority and one of the seven regents of Scotland. James Kennedy a residence in Shore Street Cellardyke by the harbour. – This character is to represent the early years of the town and harbour as well as the religious community over the years.

Water Willie

On the 24th Feb 1800, 7 boats were heading home from the line fishing and a giant wave swept one of the boats towards skellie point, it smashed the boat on to the rocks. Only one of the crew managed to survive, William Watson, threw off his jacket and was swept ashore on a big wave,(Christ Like, legend has it ), his devoted wife Mary Galloway went into the water to rush to his rescue and he was swept by the sea into her arms.. from then on he was known as Water Willie. - This character will represent the fishing community of Cellardyke

Mary Buick

Sister in law to Water Willie, her husband Thomas was pressed into the Royal Navy, Mary managed to trace him and she followed him into the service, working aboard the war ships, helping the surgeons as well as other tasks. During the battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and allegedly witnessed Nelson’s death on the Victory at the battle of Trafalgar. – Mary will represent the strong women of the town.

William Carstairs -

Son and grandson of fishermen, William became owner of Martins Oilskin Factory, he was a member of the Scottish Fisheries board and by investing in new technology he was instrumental in the development of motor fishing vessels and the move away from steam. He also invested in boat building in the town and built his second big drifter the Royal Sovereign, on the Bulwark in 1936. Willie Carstairs became Provost of the United Burghs and will represent the businesses of the town. Cellardyke Sea Queen Outline Draft Version 3 22/8/2017

Captain Alex Rodger - 1802 -1877

Master of the China tea clippers, Kate Carnie and Ellen Rodger and owner of the Min, Lahloo and Taeping. He started off as a fisherman, his father had drowned at the Drave at Burntisland. At 19 went to merchant service on a collier, at 22 in charge of a brig to Mediterranean, and then became captain of the first large ship to sail from Glasgow to Australia. Due to ill health he retired from sea but had lots of business ventures including helping Dykers go to the Australian gold mines.

The most famous Tea clipper race was when the Ariel and Taeping shared the prize as they were so close in reaching London, together, Ariel’s master was John Keay of West Anstruther. Taeping was owned by Alex Rodger – this character represents the merchant and deep sea sailors of Cellardyke and those that emigrated to other countries.


Potential Participants

1. Groups

a. Brownies

b. Harbourlights Youth Musical society

2. Clubs

a. Rugby Club

b. Tennis Club

c. Rowing Club

d. Bowling Club

e. Haddies and Alsorts

3. Other Community Organisations

a. Dreel Halls

b. Allotments Association

c. Rotary

d. Round table

e. Inner Wheel

f. Open studios

4. Church Groups


1. Set dressing

a. Nets

b. Barrels

c. Fishing Lines

d. Oars

e. Ropes

f. Floats

g. Farlans

2. Historic Costume

a. Fish wives

b. Oilskins

c. Herring lassies

d. Ganseys

e. Lifeboat uniform

f. Victorian Women and children’s clothes

g. Provost’s Robes.

3. Potential additions that would help draw crowds

a. James and Mary Walker Historic Lifeboat at the East end of the Harbour

b. Horse and carts

c. Working Coopers


1. Letting modern influences encroach on the image being created

a. Modern boats

b. Stalls, gazebos, Marquees, home baking, crafts, entertainments

c. Cars, parked and traversing the area

d. The use of PA equipment must be controlled and hidden where ever possible, radio head mics on the main historical characters.

2. Public spilling onto the historic scene and overzealous stewards in luminous vests interfering with the historical picture

3. Overstretching resources

4. Looking too much like any other village fete


It must

1. Embrace the historic uniqueness of the town and harbour

2. Wherever possible remove / disguise all modern elements from the picture

3. Take the community with it to become convincing historical characters to interact with the public

Additional ideas to be explored

1. Sourcing a grant to employ an artist in residence to work with individuals and groups to produce large banners/ tapestries celebrating aspects of the town’s past. These could be carried through the town during the procession, but exhibited in Cellardyke town hall or Cellardyke Church at all other times. The inspiration for these should come from the success of the Great tapestry of Scotland and how it engaged individuals but created contemporary artworks celebrating the past.

2. Window dressing competition – encouraging residents who live in old business premises to create/ recreate windows that pay homage to the businesses that ran there in the past. Following on from the Scottish Fisheries Museum’s Home from the Sea Exhibition.

3. Fisher lass/ lad dressing up competition.

4. There is already a successful ‘in bloom’ organisation in the village – encourage participants in planting flowers or having displays that represent some of the Cellardyke boats names in the past,

The following are all Cellardyke boat names

Viola, Viola, Pansy, Verbena, Coreopsis, Coridalis, May flower, White Rose, Primrose, Linaria Alba, Thistle, Snowdrop,.

Plaques could be given to add to the window box with the boat’s name and number.


The Sea Queen selection will be based on the systems used within the Waid Academy to elect prefects and the Selection of the Fisher Lad and Lass at Anstruther primary.

1. The committee will make a presentation to the 2017/18 5th year pupils at the Waid and explain the event and the nature of the expectations of the 2018 Sea Queen and Ambassadors representing the United Burghs.

2. Candidates will be resident in Anstruther, Cellardyke or Kilrenny

3. Candidates will make a presentation to the senior pupils, the Sea Queen Committee representatives and Rector of Waid, explaining why they would be the ideal candidate and what they would bring to the position.

4. The Senior pupils will vote anonymously for their preferred candidate

5. The Sea Queen Committee and Rector will make the final decision based on the voting and a scoring system set up for the purpose.


To create the historic picture in the first year, the following vessels have been targeted to take part. These vessels are all owned and operated in the Forth Estuary and are of a type that used to work out of Cellardyke.

Most of the owners of these vessels have been approached and have expressed an interest in taking part – Others have still to be contacted.

White Wing and Reaper – Owned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum

Marean KY120– Owned By Bob Clunas

Good Hope LH179 - Operated by Johnny Johnson

Fruitful KY 40 – Under restoration in the Scottish Fisheries Museum

Rose leaf KY 160 – owned by Sean Dooley


Anstruther Ceremony

1. Pipers move from

a. West End Shore Street

b. Chalmers Brae

c. East End of Shore Street to dais on Folly

2. Sea Queen processes with retinue to Folly from Scottish Fisheries Museum

3. Fanfare

4. Town Cryer reads Proclamation and invites

5. Anster Fisher Lass and Lad to 'sash' Sea Queen

6. FL&L put sash on Sea Queen

7. Sea Queen with attendants process to Reaper

8. Disembark on Reaper for Cellardyke Harbour

9. All other 'court' personnel move in procession through the streets to Cellardyke Harbour, following the three pipers.

Cellardyke Harbour Ceremony

10. Flotilla of boats enter the harbour

11. Arrival of court personnel from through the street onto west pier

12. Court waits for arrival of Sea Queen

13. Fanfare for arrival of Sea Queen into Harbour on board Reaper

14. Sea Queen climbs stone steps on west pier

15. Ex- Sea Queen waiting with court

16. Sea Queen is robed by ex- Sea Queen

17. Crown arrives with Cellardyke Church rep

18. Crown placed on cushion

19. Sceptre arrives with Kilrenny rep

20. Sceptre passed to ex Sea Queen

21. Processional music for court to move to bulwark.

Crowning Ceremony

22. Trumpeters

23. King at Arms

24. King at Arms reads royal proclamation

25. Ceremonial music continues

26. Bishop Kennedy on stage with sceptre - left

27. Mary Buick with Sea Queen gift (silver bangle with Kilrenny crest)

28. Captain Roger and Water Willie followed by ex-Sea Queen with Fisher Lad and Fisher Lass - stage right

29. Ex-Sea Queen speaks

30. Crown Bearer with crown

31. Fanfare

32. Sea Queen & Attendants on stage

33. Sea Queen sits

34. Crown bearer offers crown to ex-Sea Queen and places cushion in front of Sea Queen, bows and retires

35. Sea Queen kneels on cushion

36. Ex-Sea Queen crowns Sea Queen

37. Bishop Kennedy presents Sea Queen with sceptre bows and retires

38. Fanfare for Sea Queen to move to mike

39. Sea Queen speaks

40. Bishop Kennedy brings forward Sea Queen for acclamation

41. Retiral of court.

42. Handing over of Wreath

43. Blessing

44. Departure of Sea Queen and Fleet

45. Laying of Wreath

46. Flare

47. Return of Fleet to Anstruther


Gail Stepo’s Communications plan 1st draft May 2017

70 years of Sea Queens – Centuries of the Sea

Key Messages

Life in the three Burghs of Anstruther, Cellardyke and Kilrenny for centuries centred around the sea, the harbours and the fishing industry.

Those who did not live by the sea, still lived by the sea or off the sea and all lives were linked in some way to the fishing or shipping industry.

Sadly, in recent years this bond to our nautical heritage has been loosened and our heritage and traditions are at risk of becoming distant memories.

This year it will be 70 years since the first Cellardyke Sea Queen Festival took place and to mark this historic occasion, once again a local girl will be crowned. We want to use this occasion as a way to reconnect with our fishing heritage and remember the great debt we all owe our seafaring ancestors.

The festival will be a celebration of the sea and those who shared their lives with it for centuries.


While the Sea Queen Festival has a long tradition and it is hoped to re-create this next year, and perhaps beyond, the key to this festival will be to adapt to modern day thinking and attitudes.

There are a number of Sea Queen/Gala Queen events which take place every year in North East Fife and, while this is a special anniversary for Cellardyke’s Sea Queen, to attract a wider audience the event will need to produce something unusual or it will be of little interest outside of the local area.

The unique selling point for this festival is the historical nature of the event. By being able to create something which is visually different from your average gala we can attract a far wider audience.

While the actual Sea Queen ceremony is important it will be what we can do outwith and around that which will draw in crowds, and make them want to come back next year.

This event should be a celebration of the sea, the history of the local area and the characters who contributed to this history and made the area what it is today.

How do we make the festival unique?

Step back in time to the Cellardyke of our forefathers. Create a "living history" of the area with "characters" in period costume who can actually interact with the crowds. History is a big deal right now with the popularity of a number of historic dramas, such as Outlander. Re-create the whole harbour as it would have looked two or three hundred years ago, with authentic items and historic pieces with historical figures walking and working among it.

Visually this will be like a living museum and could attract audiences from further afield with national media interest.

Allow audiences and visitors to walk around this living museum, encourage them to get involved with net mending, binding fingers for gutting herring, hauling in heavy, thick old ropes and any other activities which our ancestors may have participated in.

Give the children hoops and girds and let them race each other, let them take part in an information treasure trail, where they collect carefully hidden facts from around the harbour area.

The main thing is history. This is the event’s unique selling point. The area has galas, stalls, bouncy castles and fairground rides aplenty in summer. Maybe this could be something completely different!?!


 Local organisations

 Local schoolchildren

 Residents of the three Burghs

 The three churches

 Tourists/visitors

 Press/media


We will promote the event, through social media, and in the local press and radio.

Briefing for local groups and organisations – An outline of the aims of the festival and how it will proceed with a call for help and support.

Survey of local residents – Do a quick survey through something like Survey Monkey