This is Anchorfield, although on early maps it was spelled Ankerfield. In earliest times it was called “Holy Blude Acre”, for the field — a grazing pasture — generated income that helped to support the Altar of the Holy Blood in the Chapel of St James and the Virgin Mary in Main Street.
Ask many an older Newhavener to define the borders of the village and they are likely to say “between the two bridges”. One of the two bridges doesn’t exist anymore, Trinity Bridge at its western end, and the other, at the eastern end, just beyond the large tenement block, is barely recognised as a bridge at all. This is the George Street Bridge that once spanned the Caledonian Railway to Leith — the Caley.
From around the 1850s, Newhaven’s fortunes changed for the better due in part to a number of ferry services to destinations like Burntisland, Kirkcaldy and even Orkney and London beginning and ending at the harbour. As a result, the population grew steadily from around 600 to about 2,000 by the end of the nineteenth century.
Anchorfield was built in 1898 as can be seen in the picture of the beached three-masted schooner where, in the distance, the building has been erected but the window frames have yet to be installed. In front of the building was a modest sized shingle beach bordered by a breakwater surmounted by a promenade that ran westward for the length of Anchorfield and Annfield.
The first premises that the pedestrian encounters as they enter Newhaven across George Street Bridge from Leith is a pub called the Prom Bar, named after the Annfield Promenade.
In times of old, approaching Newhaven from Leith was, at one time, hazardous with the road, such as it was, frequently washed away by the action of the sea in times of storm. Because of its treacherous nature, it was called The Mantrap. (As an irrelevant — perhaps irreverent — aside, the author of this page remembers his Latin teacher telling the class that the word “virgin” means Man (vir) Trap (gin). The author never thought that he would use that information but there you are!)
For the absence of doubt, it was not the Prom Bar that was known as the Mantrap but the access road!
This road was also a shortcut to a nearby Martello Tower, known locally as the Tally Toor and built in 1809 at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The route was routinely followed by fisherlassies collecting mussels for baiting the lines for their fathers and husbands from the rich beds at the tower’s base.
At street level, the Anchorfield building on the sea front had an ice-cream shop, a pharmacist, a newsagent and a branch of the Leith Co-operative Store as well as the Prom Bar. In the 30s and 40s, immediately beside the Prom Bar, could be found a small yard, Pratt’s, where people could take their lead-acid batteries to be refilled and replenished in order for their wireless sets (radios) to operate.
In front of the shops on the steps down to the Promenade can be seen a drinking fountain, known as the Fishwives’ Fountain. Information about this can be found at Stop 18.
The shops were well patronisd for their morning papers and cigarettes by the workers from Newhaven employed at Henry Robb’s, Leith’s foremost shipbuilders as can be seen by the cranes in the photograph. The pub was equally well used by many on the return journey.