The historic and picturesque village of Collieston is situated on the north-east coast of Scotland some twenty miles north of Aberdeen. The parish of Slains, with its rocky coast and hidden inlets, was a haven for smugglers in the 18th century when local fishermen and farmers worked together to smuggle goods from the continent to avoid paying taxes to the detested House of Hanover. A tragic event occurred on 19th December 1798 when some local smugglers were ambushed by revenue officers. Farm worker Philip Kennedy (38yrs) was badly wounded but managed to crawl to nearby Kirkton Farm where he died stretched out on a deiss (bench) in the kitchen. Philip Kennedy’s grave is located near the entrance to Slains Kirk.
Once a thriving and prosperous fishing community, the construction of Collieston’s pier in 1894 inadvertently hastened the demise of the local fishing industry. The build-up of sand in the harbour coincided with the advent of steam trawling and many fishing families left the village to pursue their trade in Torry, Aberdeen. For older fishermen and their wives who chose to remain in the village, fishing continued to be the focal point of their lives. Collieston became famous for speldings, split and dried haddock or whiting, and day trippers and holiday makers would flock to the village’s Bakery and Refreshment Rooms for a ‘Spelding Tea’ or to buy a ‘take-away’.
Collieston has attracted countless visitors for many years. One famous visitor who stayed in a house on the pier for a short time in 1930 was Aircraftsman T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia).
At the beginning of the 21st century former fishermen’s houses, modernised and well-maintained, stand huddled together on terraces overlooking Collieston’s pier, the picturesque harbour and the safe, sandy beach. Bordering the village, the Forvie National Nature Reserve is popular all year round with walkers and birdwatchers. It is home to the largest population of breeding eider ducks in Britain, four species of breeding terns and large flocks of wading birds.
Collieston has a cosmopolitan population of around 200 and a variety of community groups to cater for all ages and residents in the village and the wider parish of Slains. The website links these and allows users to interact with the groups and Collieston’s Facebook community.
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