Newhaven Closes

Route Stop 16

Next Stop -#17 Old Burial Ground
Overview Wester Close Lamb’s Court The Auld Box The Resurrectionists Westmost Close

The three original closes

Looking across the street from here you will see the entrances for three small lanes or Closes, one of the remaining features of the original layout of the buildings on the north side of Newhaven Main Street.  Each have their own distinctive character and their own story to tell.

These likely resulted from original houses having been built gable-end on to the sea shore for weather protection.  This gable-end to the sea layout was common in other Scottish coastal villages.  The houses had staircases to the upper storey in front of their dwellings.  Typically, the families lived upstairs with the cellar below for storing nets and fishing line. 

The buildings on this north side of Main Street were subject to more sympathetic redevelopment, restoration and restoration in the 1960s following the hue and cry resulting from the wholesale demolition of the south side of Main Street at the time.


3_9177 Westmost Close looking north towards the harbour. Courtesy of The Liston Collection

Wester Close, Lamb’s Court and Westmost Close

On this north side of Main Street, three main lanes remain, Wester Close, Lamb’s Court and Westmost Close. These are stone or concrete slab paved now but perhaps once were cobbled. Shops, of which there were once many in Newhaven, mainly fronted Main Street. Properties on the lanes were more domestic.

Buildings on the lanes are mainly of the traditional style two storey house types with lime-washed harled walls and forestairs, sash and case windows, often multi-paned, and pantiled roofs with slate eaves courses.

Such lanes were full of life. Imagine them and their forestairs bustling with children and fishwives and filled with lines with washing and pigs’ bladders hanging out to dry, with baskets lying around.

2_3231 An old postcard taken of four generations of Newhaven Fishwives in one of these closes. Courtesy of The Radcliffe Postcard Collection

Other Small Lanes

There were other closes in Newhaven as well as the three featured here which are the only original ones that still exist.  To the west side of St Andrew’s Square (Fishmarket Square) and on the south side of Main Street both Smiddy Close and Ramsay Square were situated.  On the eastern side of Fishmarket Square and running off Main Street, two lanes led into Parliament Square.  A small vennel opposite the Klondike building on Main Street lad led into Victoria Place and another from there into Willowbank Row which was known as Coffin Lane.  As the name suggests this route was just wide enough to take a coffin carried by the undertakers when carrying the coffin from there onto Main Street, and possibly thence into the Old Burial Ground or by hearse to the municipal cemetery, usually Rosebank Cemetery.

All of the houses on these connecting streets were demolished in the 60s when Newhaven was redeveloped.  One small lane called the Pend still exists connecting Annfield to Annfield Street (formerly Ann Street)..

2_3235 The womenfolk would work at preparing the lines for fishing outside their houses.
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