The following, written by T.W. Craster, is the introduction from a pamphlet detailing the bye-laws of the harbour and a scale of charges. Now in the County Collection at Woodhorn (NRO 3243/28), it was first published in 1908, and amended in August, 1909.
The village of Craster, in North Northumberland, about six miles north-east of Alnwick, and some 25 miles south of Berwick, is picturesquely situated on the shore of the north sea.
At this point a cleft in the long range of 'heughs' or low hills, which here extend for several miles, allows access to the sea, and the village is situated at the mouth of this cleft.
The village is divided by a small rivulet into two parts, known as the 'North Side' and the 'South Side'. The houses on the North Side are mostly owned by the fishermen themselves, the sites having been bought by them from the Earl of Tankerville, the then lord of the Manor of Dunstan, towards the latter part of the century. South Craster belongs to Mr Craster of Craster Tower, the Manor of Craster being granted to the Craster family prior to 1168.
The chief occupation of the inhabitants for very many years has been fishing, but of late a certain number have found employment in the various quarries in the neighbourhood.
It is some 70 years since the question of constructing a Harbour at Craster was first suggested, and it cropped up from time to time thereafter; but it was not till the year 1904 that the formation of a Harbour was actually decided on. In that year plans were drawn up by Mr J Watt Sandeman of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the legal and parliamentary business connected with the scheme entrusted to Messrs. Charles Percy & Son, solicitors, of Alnwick.
Formal application to the Board of trade for a Provisional Order was made in the Autumn of 1904, and this received parliamentary sanction during the session of 1905.
The contract was given to Messrs. McLaren & Co of Embleton, Northumberland, and the work of excavating the rock on the site of the harbour was commenced in October, 1905. In the month of July, 1906, the first concrete for the piers was deposited 'in situ', and from that date onwards the work was carried on under the immediate supervision of Mr H B Currie, representing the engineers, Messrs. J Watt Sandeman & Son.
The concrete of which the piers were constructed consisted of one part Portland cement form the Medway, two parts sand, and three parts crushed whinstone, the two latter being obtained on the spot. The approaches to the piers have a covering of whinstone blocks. The concrete landing surface of the piers are strengthened by steel rods embedded in the concrete, which also binds together the inner and outer walls of the piers; these are further strengthened by cross walls at intervals, between which there is a hearting of rubble stone.
The North Pier, which was the first to be begun, was finished in September 1907, and a start was made in the following December with the South Pier.
When the scheme was first decided upon it was only intended to make quite a small Harbour, with a pier on the North Side for landing fish, and a narrow breakwater on the South Side to keep out heavy seas, but generous grant aid from the Fishery Board for Scotland and secondly from His Majesty's Treasury, it was ultimately resolved to increase the accommodation by turning the South breakwater into a pier 314ft long with a landing quay 190ft long and also by constructing a quay 210ft long on the West side of the Harbour.
The depth of water alongside the North pier for a width of about 50ft, is at the outer end14½ ft at springs and about 11½ ft neaps. At 160ft inward from pier end the depth is about 11ft at springs and 8ft at neaps.
(Addition August 1909 - Mr Roland McLaren of Craster and Mr Prowde Jun. of Sunderland, entered into partnership in July, 1909, for the purpose of competing the Harbour and working the new quarry at South Craster.
Mr H B Currie was succeeded by Mr N S Trimingham as Resident Engineer in January, 1909.)
When the Harbour is completed, there will be a water area of about1¾ acres with a depth of 14½ft at high water of ordinary spring tides, and about 11½ft at neaps. The landing accommodation will be, North Pier about 170ft, South Pier, 190ft, West Quay 210ft.
It is hoped to complete the South Pier by the beginning of October 1908, after which the chief work will be the excavating of the rock over the rest of the Harbour to the required depth.
(This corrected in August 1909 - The work on the South Pier took longer than was expected, but it is hoped to have it completed by the Spring (Deleted - Summer) of 1910 and the entire Harbour entirely finished by the end of the same year.)
The Harbour is entirely sheltered from westerly winds, and partially so from northerly and southerly winds by two out-lying rocks (Little Carr and Muckle Carr), between which there is a wide, deep and safe approach. Mooring buoys are laid down outside the entrance.
The Harbour will be dry over the greater part, at low water of spring tides. At all parts where the rock has been excavated to low water level, the bottom has been covered with a layer of fine sand, and there is seems to be no reason to doubt that, when finished, the whole Harbour will have a level sandy bottom.
At the inner end of the North Pier is a gun metal tablet, inscribed
“HODIE - FELIX - CRAS - TER.*
Craster Memorial Harbour. Constructed in memory of Captain John Charles Pulleine Craster, 46th Punjabis, who fell in action during the Thibetan Expedition, June, 1904. He took a deep interest in the provision of a harbour at Craster, and his brothers and sister chose this way of perpetuating his memory, A.D., 1906."
*'The Craster family motto; “To-day happy, to-morrow thrice so."
The inscription is surmounted by a raven, the crest of the Crasters of Craster Tower.
This Harbour is probably unique, owing to the fact that it is formed by excavation out of the solid basalt. This involves some heavy quarrying, and the progress is slow, as much of the work can only be carried on at low water.
There are at this date (1908) four curing establishments in the village of Craster. The herring landed during the season of 1901 amounted to about 4,450 crans.
There is an abundance of almost unworked whinstone (basalt) in close proximity to the Harbour, and preparations are being made for establishing a shipping trade in this commodity. Stones, rough and paving, can be shipped to various places at reasonable rates.
Appended is a list of the Harbour dues, charges, etc., and of the bye-laws in force, all of which have received the sanction of the Board of Trade. A plan of the Harbour is also given, showing the position and dimensions of the piers.
Mr. Adam Archbold of No. 8, Craster, has been appointed Harbour Master, and from him copies of this pamphlet can be had on application.
Applications for land in South Craster for sites for herring kippering, or curing stations, to be addressed to the Proprietor,
T. W. CRASTER, CRASTER TOWER
A new quarry has just been opened at South Craster, and already numerous cargoes of whinstone have been ,despatched by sea to Goole and Sunderland. The quality the stone is extremely good.
Herring boats from other ports are gradually finding out this new Harbour, and during the present season herrings have been delivered by boats hailing from Burnmouth, Eyemouth, St. Abbs, Fisherrow, Arbroath Montrose, and Lossiemouth, as well as by Cornish boats. Several steam drifters have also called and delivered herrings. As the Harbour becomes better known, it is hoped that many more boats will make Craster a regular port of call.
Spring tides occur twice each month, at the time of the full and new moons. At these times, high tides are higher than average and low tides lower. The name does not come from the season, but the verb, ie 'to spring up'. Neaps are less extreme tides which occur when the moon is in the first and third quarters.