Museum of Edinburgh and 
Newhaven Community History Group


Heritage Museum



Newhaven History


Newhaven, a village on the Firth of Forth a couple of miles to the north of Edinburgh.  It has a naval and fishing history extending over many centuries. 

In 1507-11, the naval dockyard at Newhaven built the Great Michael, the mightiest ship of its time.

Newhaven fishwives, used to be a common sight on the streets of Edinburgh, in their striped aprons, carrying their heavy loads of fish for sale on creels on their backs.  They feature in many of Hill & Adamson's early calotype photos.

Newhaven Fishwife

Hill & Adamson Calotype  -  1843-1847

Hill & Adamson Calotype of Newhaven Fishwife

©  Reproduced by courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum

Fishwives had two sets of clothing; navy and white striped skirts for working and red and yellow striped costumes for special occasions including performing in the Newhaven choirs.

-  The Fishergirls Choir was established in 1896.

-  This was later re-named the Fisherlasses Choir.

-  The Fisherwomen's Choir was established in 1927.

I hope, soon to be able to add some photos of these choirs to this site. 



Newhaven Heritage Museum

Newhaven Museum

The Newhaven Heritage Museum is situated beside Newhaven Harbour.  The old Fishmarket beside the harbour was refurbished and split into three sections in 1994:

-  The northern section remained as a  fishmarket which still operates.

-  The central section was converted into the Newhaven Heritage Museum

-  The southern section was converted to a Harry Ramsden Fish Restaurant.

The museum contains old photographs, fishwives' costumes for children to dress in, historical objects, documents, a video of the history of Newhaven, and chance to chat to the local volunteers.  

The museum has been well supported by local community history group, who have provided many of the exhibits and can answer questions about the village.


Does anybody remember ... ?

The Museum is still keen to add to its collection, and would very much like to hear from anybody with old photos or memories of Newhaven history. 



A book has been produced to accompany the Newhaven exhibition.  

Title:  Newhaven: Personal Recollections and Photographs

Published by: The City of Edinburgh Council Department of Recreation, Heritage and Arts, 1998.  ISBN 0 905072 77 3  Cost:  £3.95





UPDATE  -  January 2006

The Newhaven Heritage Museum, in the centre of the old fishmarket building beside Newhaven Harbour, closed its doors in late-2006 to enable a major refurbishment programme to be carried out.

Refurbishment of the museum was originally due to be completed in spring 2007, but the building remains closed (now, July 2008) and I don't yet know when it is due to re-open.

The former Harry Ramsden fish and chip shop and restaurant at  the southern end of the old fishmarket closed about five years ago.  It has now become a Loch Fyne Restaurant.

Loch Fine Restaurant info:  Edinburgh Evening News  10 January 2006, p.





UPDATE  -  January 2008

The Museum has been closed for refurbishment since 2006.  I don't yet know when it is due to re-open.





UPDATE  -  May 2009

Bad News!

I have now  received this message from the City of Edinburgh Museums, telling me the outcome of a meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council's Culture & Leisure Committee held on May 6, 2009:

"I am sorry but Newhaven Heritage Museum will not now re-open. In brief, the reason for not re-opening is because the capital cost of doing so is currently beyond the Council's means.  ...

Instead, alternative ways of providing a museum service to the Newhaven community are to be explored.  Additionally, a Cross Party Working Group is to be established to examine the potential links in Museum activity across the Waterfront, including any potential for new provision and alternative funding sources."






UPDATE  -  February 2012

Better News!

Newhaven Action Group intends to launch an appeal soon to fund the establishment of a new heritage Centre for Newhaven.

Here is a copy of a letter on the subject that they distributed yesterday:


Newhaven Action Group

working together to build a better future by learning from our heritage

The Newhaven Action Group – NAG – is positioning itself to launch an appeal in the near future to fund the establishment of a new Heritage Centre.  To this end, it was felt appropriate to put up a “consumer orientated” website to help make the appeal global rather than merely local.  Harry Summers and Gordon Young were assigned this task.

It is intended that the website will be image rich in support of numerous reminiscences of Newhaven Life.  Can you help?  Do you have photographs you can lend the website construction team?  Can you jot down some memories of Newhaven as it was, such as memories of Victoria Primary School, how summers were spent, how parents earned their living, the Fishwives Choir, etc?

However, whilst the website for the most part will be a testament to Old Newhaven, the team are anxious that it should be firmly placed within the context of a continuing vibrant community.  To this end, Harry and Gordon would welcome current (predominantly, good) news that could be incorporated, too.

Any submissions can be emailed to Harry and/or Gordon.

If it is more convenient to you, you can enclose your pictures and written memories in a self-addressed envelope and handed to Harry or Gordon at or before the next Historic Group meeting.  The photographs will be returned to you at the earliest opportunity.

Thank you in anticipation.

Newhaven Action Group

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  February 18, 2012




John Stevenson

Trinity, Edinburgh

Thank you to John Stevenson who wrote:

UPDATE  -  May 2013

Victoria School

"Victoria Primary School, on the south side of Newhaven Place, a short distance to the east of Newhaven Harbour now has a small selection of artefacts from the Newhaven Heritage Museum that closed several years ago.

I spoke to one of the local councillors earlier this week and asked him about the prospects to finding a future home for the Heritage Museum.  He replied:

"There is a room at Victoria Primary School with many items on view.  That's probably as good as it is going to get ."

I spoke this morning with Heather Suttie, Secretary, at Victoria Primary School.  She was very helpful and confirmed that the 'Museum' (one room ) was open to the public during term time.

In July/August, and at other times when the school is on holiday, access depends on the good offices of the Janitor.

No booking is required for up to 3 or 4 people, but for larger parties a phone call to the school is required to arrange a time and date ."

John Stevenson, Trinity, Edinburgh:  May 1, 2013




John Stevenson

Trinity, Edinburgh

Thank you to John Stevenson who wrote again.

John added::

UPDATE  -  May 2013

Victoria School

"Diana Morton, Outreach & Access Manager, Culure and Sport, Corporate Governance, City of Edinburgh, tells me that she is currently working with Victoria School to refresh the Newhaven Heritage Museum displays at the school.

She hopes to soon have a collection of old toys and traditional games to be displayed alongside the material relating to fishing and to the history of the school.

She plans to publicise the museum at the school, once the new display has been installed."

John Stevenson, Trinity, Edinburgh:  May 1, 2013




Harry Summers

Newhaven, Edinburgh

Thank you to Harry Summers, Newhaven for posting a message in the EdinPhoto guestbook.

Harry wrote:

UPDATE  -  May 2013

Web Site and Museum

"We Newhaveners have set up a  Newhaven on Forth web site. We are looking for stories and true tales of Newhaven, and any old photos for the web site.  We're also trying to bring back a museum to Newhaven.  We look forward to hearing from you all.

Harry Summers, Newhaven, Edinburgh:  Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, May 20, 2013

Hi Harry:

Web Site and Museum

 I wish you all the best in your search for Newhaven stories and photos.

It would be good to see the museum back again.  I thoroughly enjoyed the museum, and contributed many photos to it, when it was in the old fishmarket building beside Newhaven Harbour, a very appropriate site for it.

There is now a "wee museum" in Victoria Primary School at Newhaven.  I took a few photos there about 2 weeks ago, but I've not yet had chance to add them to the EdinPhoto web site.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  May 21, 2013


Newhaven Fishmarket