Photograph of Cromarty Fishertown
Cromarty Courthouse Museum

In 1903, local photographer Willie John Smith took a series of photographs of the people and scenes in the fishertown of Cromarty.   

Photographs like this are an important social document about the poverty and the hardship experienced. Willie took over fifty portraits of the Cromarty fisher folk at work or in more relaxed poses in front of their houses, like this.  

The fisher community in Cromarty appears to have been a distinct class, inhabiting the rundown thatched cottages of the fishertown, which had no amenities and exuded all-pervading odours! Like many fishing communities along the east coast, they had their own dialect. The women played crucial roles, carrying out their men to their boats, baiting lines for fishing, and marketing the fish once caught.  

The house in this photo still exists, on the edge of the Links and below the Braehead, but it is now much improved and no longer thatched. The photo alludes to the cross-generational households living together in cramped and unsanitary conditions. It is known that two extended families lived in this house – one on the ground floor and the other inhabited the upper floor.  

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Date: 1903
Materials : Photographic Paper
Size : 17cm x 12cm

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