A DANCE which was traditionally enjoyed after the historic Fisherrow Fisherman’s Walk is set to be revived in Musselburgh.

Dating back many centuries, the walk celebrated the end of the summer herring season and the safe return of the fishermen.

In more recent times, the day of the walk was further extended by a Fisherman’s Dance in the evening with the fisher folk dancing well into the night, said Jeananne Henderson, who is planning to bring the social event back to the Honest Toun’s calendar in October.

Jeananne, 55, who has lived in Fisherrow all her life, can trace her fisher roots back many generations through her mother’s side of the family, the Walkers.

Jeananne's dad Ivor Highley, picture right, with his crew on the fishing boat StormdriftJeananne's dad Ivor Highley, picture right, with his crew on the fishing boat Stormdrift

She said: “In September, the fisher folk would parade through the streets of Fisherrow and Musselburgh, wearing their fisherman’s guernseys and colourful fishwives clothes with pride, as many would be family heirlooms passed through the generations to be worn in this spectacular procession.

“Huge flags would adorn New Street, starting at the Fisherrow Seaman’s Mission where the walk would commence heading off towards the harbour. The flags were erected the week before the walk, which added to the thrill as you could feel the buzz and excitement in the air.

“The townsfolk and visitors would line the streets to watch the hard-working and proud fisher folk displaying their heritage through banners and flags whilst enjoying the sound of the pipe bands and the dancing of reels.

“The guernseys and clothes seen in the Fisherman’s Walk were not worn to work in, but were stored safely to be worn in the walk only, with some of the fishwives’ shawls being described as works of art.”

Jeananne's mother Jean Walker took part in the Fisherrow Fisherman's Walk from an early ageJeananne's mother Jean Walker took part in the Fisherrow Fisherman's Walk from an early age

She said: “Unfortunately, the Fisherman’s Walk ceased to exist near the end of the 20th century; however, the fisher folk still remember the elaborate procession with fond memories, reminiscing through exchanging stories and photographs.”

Jeananne outlined her family’s fishing heritage, saying: “When my father, Ivor Highley, married my mother, Jean Walker, back in 1964, he not only married into the Walker family, but married the whole fishing community of Fisherrow. Although born and bred in Musselburgh, my father would have been considered an outsider by the Fisherrow community and would be referred to as ‘no yin o’oo’, which means ‘not one of us’.

“My father was quickly embraced by the heart of the fisher folk and was welcomed into the community, forging his place as ‘yin o’oo’.

“In the same year, my father got his first berth on the Stormdrift, a Fisherrow boat, and for many years after that worked as a fisherman between Fisherrow and Port Seton on vessels such as the New Dawn, the Pioneer, the Provider and the Olive Branch.

“My grandfather, Jimmy Walker, was also a fisherman and worked on many vessels throughout the years, with his main berth being on the Brighter Dawn. Jimmy’s mother, my great-grandmother, Katie Walker, was a fishwife where she would work from her skull and creel gutting and selling fish in Fisherrow and Edinburgh.

Jeananne and her mum Jean at the Fisherrow Fisherman's Walk in 1973/74Jeananne and her mum Jean at the Fisherrow Fisherman's Walk in 1973/74

“My great-great-grandfather, William Walker, was the skipper of the Alice of Boddam, the only Fisherrow vessel to be struck down on October 14, 1881, in a devastating storm known as the Eyemouth Disaster. Seven Fisherrow crew members lost their lives that day, with the youngest being only 19 years of age. There is a monument dedicated to the lost souls of the Alice in Inveresk Cemetery, where I lay a wreath every Christmas to remember them.”

Jeananne said: “I have always hoped that the Fisherrow Fisherman’s Walk would be reinstated as a tradition; however, as there is no thriving Fisherrow fishing industry in current times, and with the fisher folk dwindling away, there is little hope of this happening.

“Although this is true, there are still many fisher folk who remember taking part in the walk with pride and, due to this, I have organised a Fisherrow Fisherman’s Dance to take place in the Musselburgh & Fisherrow Welfare Club on Friday, October 4.”

Those attending will be piped into the dance by The Lassie Piper and the evening will start with family footage of the Fisherman’s Walk from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, where people will see familiar faces from the past. There will also be a slideshow of photographs, a buffet by Quinnsters and a ceilidh lead by Alex Hodgson’s Ceilidh Band. Fisherman’s guernseys and fishwives’ clothes are preferred but are not essential.

Tickets are available now by emailing fisherrow.fishermans.dance@gmail.com

Jeananne has also issued an invitation to people to email her photographs that they would like to be displayed in the slideshow.