This Story was written while looking out the window at a wet and windy day. Almost 149 years ago to the day, there was an even worse storm, described nationally as a hurricane.
A Banff eyewitness described it as “Most awful rough day, a real hurricane and raining too”.
This photo was taken after 1903 (when the Macduff Harbour lighthouse was put in its present position) but does show a rather rough sea, something that most people in Banff and Macduff will have seen!
The Banffshire Journal reports “the gale commenced very suddenly, about nine o’clock. The wind had been from the south, and, in a very short time, veered round to west-north-west. The sea was very disturbed, and the rain and spray, blown from the crests of the waves, shortened the range of vision seawards.”
Various damages were reported. It was apparently difficult to walk outside, but also unsafe to walk the streets due to the “quantity of slates falling off the roofs of houses”. Various chimney cans were thrown down, and some of the older and more exposed houses in Banff were “a good deal damaged”, and many had water damage from the force of the wind pushing rain inside. A number of trees were blown over, especially reported in Duff House woods.
In 1874 the Bar of Banff was still in place, ie the sand and gravel bank sticking out from the Macduff side of the river mouth, and the sheltered area south of it was used for beaching boats. The wind blew over several herring boats that were on Green Banks, but they were not badly damaged. These nineteenth century pictures show the Bar with some herring boats sheltering (there are some just north of Banff Bridge, on the Green Banks side, in the hand water-coloured picture)
Sometimes of course larger ships like this schooner were beached for repairs, or for building, on Green Banks.
From the national newspapers of the time it seems Banff and Macduff did not get the worst of the weather; further south in places there was more substantial damage. It is reported that every telegraph wire north of Birmingham was out of action!
Fraserburgh did have a wreck, of the schooner “Moir”. Her details are not known, but she had sailed from Portsoy with a cargo of oats, bound for Newcastle. But she was blown on to Fraserburgh Sands (just south of the town). Captain James Smith and his crew were saved by the Fraserburgh Lifeboat “Charlotte”. The painting below was done in 1875, the year after, but it is not specified as the “Moir”. The black and white image shows the “Charlotte”, again in action in 1877 for another schooner, the “Fuchsia”, a rescue which saved 4 adults and 4 children.