Lost Villages 

Little Johnshaven
It was once a salmon fishing station and often worked with the fishermen of Shieldhill.  It is believed that the salmon fishing stopped in Little Johnshaven in 1953. The salmon fishing stations along the North East coast of Scotland were mainly the property of the Crown Estates and every seven years these stations were auctioned and leased to the highest bidder.
Access to papers from the firm of Joseph Johnston of Montrose which operated most  of the salmon fishing stations around the area, shows Little Johnshaven is listed.

It is recorded that there were fishermen in Shieldhill in the mid 15th century.  The surname of Watt is prevalent.  In the mid 18th century there were as many as five boats in the small cove,  supporting nine families - a total of thirty one inhabitants.  They fished out of Crooked Haven just under the cliffs from Shieldhill.  The yearly catch would have consisted of haddock,  ling,  skate,  whiting,  cod,  flukes and mackerel - all caught by line.   A large mainstay would have been the trapping of crab in creels and it is believed that during the 19th and early 20th century the Shieldhill men helped out at the herring fishing in the bigger settlements of Gourdon and Stonehaven. The fishermen also fished for salmon during the salmon season and assisted the fishermen at Little Johnshaven.

(Gawpol, Gap- hill, Gapple, Gawpule  - the name is variously recorded.)

This village was situated above Braidon Bay, with a track leading down to the shore. The history of this settlement is difficult to trace, but the name(s) is recorded in various sources, and it is implied that there were two working boats in 1625.   Today there is no real trace of any settlement.  However, a few dressed stones at the edge of the field behind Todhead Lighthouse, the proximity to a natural spring, and a track leading to the shore, seem to pinpoint the most likely site.  Records from the mid 18th century, would suggest that ten or twelve fishermen would have worked two boats, supporting about eight families and a settlement of about forty to fifty people.

In the 1760’s there is some  suggestion that the village of Gawpool fell victim to the Press Gangs which took away the men and the boys for forced service in the Navy.  Whether for that reason or others, the village became unviable.

Unlike the other “lost” villages, Crawton today is a thriving residential hamlet, although no commercial fishing takes place.   When fishing was impossible during the winter months, the villagers of Crawton would work on the neighbouring farms.  The last fishing boat the “Petunia” left Crawton in 1912.  Like the other villages, one of the reasons for its demise was that there was nowhere to build a jetty or pier, which could facilitate the larger boats.

For further information go to: www.maggielaw.co.uk

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