NEWHAVEN — A  UNIQUE FISHING VILLAGE ON THE COAST OF THE FORTH, PROUD OF ITS TRADITIONS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

newhaven-on-forth

If you have contributions to make to the knowledge base and photographic archives on any of the topics on this page, they would be most welcome.  Please contact archivist@newhavenonforth.org.uk

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Supported by Newhaven Action Group which is recognised as a Scottish registered charity: OSCR Number: SC042050

The precarious occupation of commercial fishing meant that accidental death was never far from people’s thresholds.  As a consequence, traditionally Newhaven villagers were God-fearing folk.  However, it is remarkable that no church existed in Newhaven for much of its existence after the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St James which was built by James IV in 1504, fell into ruin after 50 years of use.  The people of Newhaven had to travel to Leith to worship.


In 1828, Rev James Buchanan of North Leith Parish Church campaigned for a church to be built in the newly-opened Cut (now Craighall Road) and the new church of Newhaven-on_Forth (above right) was consecrated in 1836. In 1838, the Rev James Fairbairn was appointed its first minister.  


In 1843, a schism over patronage called The Disruption, split the Church of Scotland and the Kirk Session of Newhaven church, along with 450 congregations,  voted to leave the Established Church to form The Free Church of Scotland.  As a consequence St Andrew’s Church  (above left) was founded and built predominantly through the generous subscription of the fishermen of Newhaven.  Because of this, St Andrew’s was always known as “The Fishermen’s Kirk”.  The church had no steeple but upon the death of the much-loved Rev Dr Fairbairn in 1879, a fine 120-foot steeple was built as a mark of remembrance of his long and faithful ministry.  This was instigated by Dr Fairbairn’s successor, Rev Dr David Kilpatrick who, like his predecessor, served lovingly for many years, retiring in 1917.


When the Established Church of Scotland regained possession of Newhaven-on-Forth Church in 1849, Rev Dr William Graham was appointed to minister to his flock. This he did with great success until his sudden death in 1887.  His coffin was carried to Warriston Cemetery by a relay of fishermen and his passing was sincerely mourned throughout the village to which he had given a lifetime.


It must be asked why three very capable and talented ministers who could have easily carved careers in churches with higher profiles and richer congregations should dedicate their lives to humble surroundings.  The answer no doubt is the villagers of Newhaven took their religion seriously and returned the grace of the ministry received with respect, appreciation and love.


Other religious organisations were also active.  The People’s Mission, the Royal Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen and the Church of Scotland Mission to the Herring Industry all conducted missionary work in the town and many a summer evening rang to the sounds of hymns coming from the crowds of worshippers on the beach.

Religion

St Andrew’s Church - the Fishermen’s Church - now a climbing centre

Newhaven-on-Forth Church now a community church located in the Hall below

The remains of the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin and St James.

We are grateful to Liz Grieve who sent us some interesting pictures on Harvest Day in St Andrew’s circa 1970 as well as a first edition of their church bulletin, The New Newhaven.  Newhaven St Andrew’s Parish Church was joined with the older Newhaven on Forth Parish Church in 1974.  Follow the link here > > >