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The Dunbar Harbour Trust consists of twelve trustees whom are unpaid volunteers. The cost of maintaining the quays and piers is met from income from harbour dues, such as fish landing and mooring charges. Vital works found to be necessary for the upkeep of the harbour require many hours spent on sourcing and applying for funding. The Trust has had considerable successes over the many years, managing the many projects to develop and maintain the harbour to the benefit of harbour users, residents, visitors and the local community.


Harbour Walls - repairs in the last few years

Over the last few years DHT has been successful in getting Marine Scotland Fisheries Grant under their Emergency Harbour repair fund.

This is summarised below

  • Autumn 2012    £20k    For storm damage at entrance to harbour (void of 60m3)
  • Spring 2013    £100k    Underpinning of the outer North Wall and minor repairs at Cromwell Harbour
  • Autumn 2013    £64k    Repairs at entrance to harbour and completion of underpinning
  • Spring 2014      £49.5k Repairs to inner wall at 5 locations including major voids adjacent to the bridge
  • Spring 2015      £25k    Repairs to Cromwell Harbour outer wall and parapets also South Wall

Total funding applied for projects successfully caried out £260k

As part of the above grants a number of condition surveys/reports have been carried out on all the walls in the harbours by consultants Arch Henderson.

These surveys identify defects in the walls and prioritise them into red (highest) orange (medium) and green (lowest). From this information a plan of repairs has been prepared for the next 3 years.

£12k of DHT funds was used to repair erosion at the Battery, inside the North Wall, harbour steps, slipway and on small joint repairs.

These projects need to be identified, costed, funding applied for and contractors found and negotiated with and the work overseen.

When emergency wall breaches occur thy require a swift response and all of the above still needs to be done but within a much shorter time frame.

Since its formation in 1998 Dunbar Harbour Trust has had some significant successes. Initially set up as a Harbour Trust Association with representatives from all harbour users it took control over the harbour administration. East Lothian Council then applied for a Harbour Revision Order under section 14 of the Harbours Act 1964 as a result of which they were given Statutory Powers to operate the harbour which came into effect on 30th September 2004.
The twelve Trustees are unpaid volunteers and the cost of maintaining the quays and piers is met from income from harbour dues, such as fish landing and mooring charges and there has been some considerable successes. More vital works found to be on necessary for the upkeep of the require many hours spent sourcing and applying for funding. It should be noted that all Trustees are volunteers and receive no payment for their work. The revenue from the services offered by the Harbour Trust is used entirely to finance the harbour management and development to the benefit of harbour users, residents, visitors and the local community.

Flag Funded Projects for Davits, Water and Power.
Four new electric davits have been installed and load tested having been manufactured by local firm A Watt & Sons.
 The new davits have increased the electrical davits on the South Pier in Victoria Harbour to five and they are in operation before the peak fishing season.
New electrical and water points have been installed in both the Cromwell and the Victoria Harbours.

The fasinating history of McArthur's Store


McArthur’s Store, or Spott’s Girnell (granary) as it was first known, was first recorded in 1658 located on a spur of rock within the eastern harbour of Dunbar that had been established a few years earlier under Oliver Cromwell. Early charters described the property as the “white herring house with girnell” with its close, yards, and falls, with “full sea in all places”. The building is one of the oldest continuously used harbour buildings in Scotland. Archaeological assessment has revealed that the southern side of the existing building incorporated an earlier structure at ground level. Clearly this was its 17th Century predecessor. Excavation on the north side of the building has revealed a further structure running parallel whose central entrance led directly to rock-cut steps leading to the original rocky inlet used as the harbour. 

A major remodelling of the building occurred around 1738 after permission was received from the town council for the erection of the stone stair at the west end of the building. The building was doubled in width and raised to three stories with a double gabled pan-tiled roof. Around 1800 the building was strengthened by the installation of a system of vertical propping of the floors. Most of these props, still visible today, are former ships’ timbers recycled for use on shore. Maritime archaeological assessment suggests that the timbers are from a Scots merchantman of the 18th Century. The existence of these timbers in the building represents an incredibly rare survival. 

The building saw repeated subsequent remodelling relating to frequent changes of use. At one point ventilation slits were inserted throughout the ground floor. These were subsequently blocked and overlain with plaster and timber lining boards in the north half of the building. The double gabled pan tiled roof was replaced in the mid to late 19th Century by a single, slated, double-pitched structure with hipped ends. The slates had been replaced with asbestos cement sheets sometime in the 20th Century. Within living memory the building has been used by local fishermen as stores and a place to make and mend fishing gear.

The surrounding pier head has been mapped in detail and retains many features that date back to the 17th and 18th Centuries. In the early 18th Century the quay on the north side of the stores was formed around a little natural inlet and thereafter was known as ‘Holey Quay’. The existing quayside was created in the 20th Century but the outline of Holey Quay has been retained in the paving of the quay top.


  • In October 2004 the Harbour Trust established the McArthur’s Store Building Preservation Trust to promote a restoration project
  • The establishment of the Dunbar Townscape Heritage Initiative in 2005 saw the designation of the Store as a Priority Project
  • A feasibility study was commissioned and completed in January 2006
  • In July 2006 a project organiser was appointed and the architectural scheme was reviewed in consultation with the fishermen
  • A preferred scheme was adopted and a development stage entered into with the production of detailed designs and costings
  • Applications for funding to a number of agencies took place during 2007
  • By December 2007 it was possible to appoint a contractor to proceed with the works which were completed in May 2009