Newhaven Community Choir entertained visitors at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Monday (20 August) with traditional fishwives songs as part of Edinburgh Shoreline, an exciting project to regenerate natural habitats along the city’s coastline.
The choir performed songs including ‘Caller Herrin’, based on the traditional street cry of the Newhaven fishwives as they carried fresh fish from Newhaven Harbour up to Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and ‘Caller Ou’, a common street cry among the fish sellers of Newhaven, advertising fresh oysters to the Edinburgh public.
The backdrop for their performance was the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the Garden’s John Hope Gateway. It will run until 28 October.
Schools, community groups and individuals who care about the local environment and heritage have joined together to regenerate natural habitats along Edinburgh’s 27km coastline from Port Edgar to Joppa. By connecting with scientists and conservationists in the Shoreline project everyone who lives, works or plays in the area has the chance to celebrate the area’s relationship with the sea and the plants and animals to be found along the coast.
Project Manager Charlotte Johnson, based at RBGE, said: “The Edinburgh Shoreline project is very much a community affair and it is very fitting that Newhaven Community Choir has come along today to perform songs that would have been sung by local fishwives when fishing was a thriving industry in the capital.’’
She added: “Over many decades, Edinburgh’s relationship with the sea has weakened, to the detriment of its citizens, landscapes, plants and wildlife. Our coast is now a strange mix of areas of dereliction, industry, forgotten beaches, with new developments and fresh possibilities.’’
As part of their involvement with the Edinburgh Shoreline project the choir has been able to record a CD of these songs with the accompaniment of traditional musicians. The CD will be available later this year.
The groundswell of public pressure to reduce plastic waste is being supported by Sodexo Prestige, the company which provides catering, event, cleaning and waste management services at the Botanics. It is actively keen to prove and promote its global and local sustainable credentials within its activities at the Garden.
Account Manager Paul Mitchell explained: “This focus over the course of this year, has been particularly aimed at the reduction and eventual elimination of all single use plastics across all our operations within the Garden; providing alternatives which will undoubtedly deliver benefits for all those using the wonderful facilities at the Garden and which underpins a better environment for everyone.’’
The Shoreline project has been developed by Karen Chambers, Vice Chair of Scottish Wildlife Trust; historian and researcher Elspeth Wills and Leonie Alexander, Urban Biodiversity Project Officer who wanted to see Edinburgh’s profile raised as a coastal city. It is now being headed-up by RBGE and its partners in Edinburgh Living Landscape (ELL). The Shoreline sets out to be a fun-laden adventure tackling serious challenges faced by all inhabiting the coast. Ultimately its aim is to deliver a legacy for the human, animal and plant communities from South Queensferry to Joppa.
This initiative is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage on behalf of the Scottish Government.