The Way It Was

Fishermans Cottage

If you look at the picture of Broadsea, a fishing village on the west side of Fraserburgh, you will see that the houses were built quite close together, but not facing the sea.

Inside the houses were quite small and bare. There would be a single open room with an earthen floor below roof beams blackened by peat smoke.

Fishing gear was stored on top of the beams and fish, bunches of onions and rush-pith for wicks for the “eeley dolly” lamp would be hung from the beams to dry. An iron crook held the cooking pots over the fire which burned locally cut peats. A wooden dresser stored the utensils and a box bed in which the family slept were largely the only two items of furniture. The smell of fish, damp clothes and the peat fire would have filled the room.

These cottages were known as But n’ Ben’s. The But was the posher side of the cottage with a more elegant best room, often called a parlour, for family use on special occasions or for entertaining refined visitors such as the Minister. The Ben was the combined living and sleeping area. There was no lighting, heating or electricity other than paraffin lamps, open fires and a cooking range. There was no running water either; water was carried from the well on the street.