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Overview of Arbroath

Picture: Wallace Ferrier
Beach Front
Arbroath, or Aberbrothock, is an ancient port dating back to Pictish times. In 1174 the founding of the Abbey began the recorded history of the town. There was a wooden pier at Arbroath by 1194, and the first harbour dated from 1394. Arbroath also has a Royal Charter from 1599.

The name Aberbrothock means "mouth of the Brothock Burn" and has since evolved into the modern name, Arbroath. The Burn is significant in the development of the town as it provided the power for the flax mills which were built along its banks.

Arbroath is perhaps best known historically in connection with "The Declaration of Arbroath".

A popular holiday destination today Arbroath was especially popular in the 60s and 70s with residents of the Glasgow area. Attractions such as the Outdoor bathing pool (now long since gone), Kerr's miniature railway (Established in 1935 and the oldest in Scotland), and the refreshing walks available along the "Cliffs" of the north east coast being ideal for families.

Arbroath is also renowned as the home of the "Arbroath Smokie"¯pairs of haddock tied at the tails and smoked over burning hardwood. Local businessman Robert R. Spink was instrumental in arranging for European protection for the Arbroath Smokie name - to be called an "Arbroath Smokie" the product must now be made within a 3 mile radius of Arbroath.

Arbroath's trade developed around its Harbour with flax being a major export, fishing also played a vital part - the sea played an important part in local life for generations. In recent times there has been a major decline in the fish industry and only a few fishing boats are still based locally. The local council have recently installed pontoons, and restored the dock-gates, to attract pleasure craft such as yachts. The recent addition of the new "Visitor Centre" and Restaurant complex have further boosted the harbour area.

Declaration of Arbroath statue
Today Arbroath is still an important tourist destination, in addition to the many historical locations such as Arbroath Abbey, The Signal Tower, and The Bellrock Lighthouse. Arbroath is building on this by staging events such as the annual "Seafest", and "Seafront Spectacular".

Finally, an early account of Arbroath. This piece gives some interesting insight into place names which are still in use today. Written by John Ochterlony, laird of Guynd in 1685:

'It is a pleasant sweet place and excellent good land about it. They have a shore, some shipping and a little small trade. It hath one long large street, and some bye-streets. It is tolerably well built and hath some very good houses in it. Hard by the towne upon the east syd is Newgait, belonging to a gentleman of the name of Carnegy, of the family of Southesk, a very good house and pleasant place. Almyryclose is in the head of the towne, and good house and yards. Smiddie Croft is a little interest belonging to a gentleman of the name of Peirsone, who is ancient and without debait chief of his name.'

Further reading:
The Highland Heritage Society have an interesting page titled "Saint Andrew and The Saltire -The National Flag of Scotland".
Angus Council have an excellent page called "Arbroath's History - Resources For Researchers".
The National Library of Scotland has some maps of Arbroath from 1858 available.
Finally there is also a Wikipedia page about Arbroath.

Text last reviewed: March 2009.

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Arbroath Gallery (this picture: Dawn at the Ness by Phil Petrie)

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Interactive Arbroath map

Interactive Arbroath map - including event locations!

Kerr's Miniature Railway

Tourist Attractions in and around Arbroath.