Access to the far side of the harbour is discouraged in stormy weather.
In 2004 the Government passed a law to transfer the ownership and management of Dunbar Harbour from East Lothian Council to a new Trust. Dunbar Harbour Trust is a charity run by twelve unpaid volunteers. The trustees are all local, bringing a variety of the skills needed to maintain and improve the Harbour.
Some trustees bring knowledge, as well as skill, to the Trust. They have been active in the fishing industry, or have been keen sailors, aware of the challenges presented to harbours situated by the North Sea when the weather turns wild. The Harbour is tidal and dries out, and the swell conditions need to be understood. In stormy weather the waves crash over the North Wall and the Trust works hard to keep the public safe at all times.
Safety is the responsibility of each and every trustee. At each Board Meeting three risks are assessed and recorded, and the trustees invite an external examiner to check that Dunbar always complies with the Port Marine Safety Code.
In practical terms, this safety compliance includes a regular inspection of the Harbour walls, battered and damaged every year by the sea. The Trust has been fortunate over the years to have local trustees with surveying or engineering backgrounds willing and able to help organise these inspections.
Determining what needs to be repaired is the first challenge. The repair work itself costs money far in excess of what the small charity can afford. Some of the trustees give of their personal time to apply for and then administer grants, frequently against very tight deadlines. All around the harbour there is lifting equipment, electrical appliances and buildings which the trustees need to ensure are up to the necessary standard,
Maintaining standards is vital, but the Trust aims to do more than just maintain what is there. Every three years, the Trust publishes an improvement programme, after consultation with all of the user groups, and takes responsibility for delivering as many of these improvements as it can, given its limited financial resources. Examples of recent achievements include the refurbishment of Dunbar Battery, the introduction of lifting cranes for the fishing fleet, new branders in the Cromwell Harbour, and new fishermen’s stores at the end of Victoria Harbour.
Some of the trustees, combining with other harbour users, manage the day-to-day requirements, such as mooring applications or skip hire requirements, through the Harbour Management Committee. Included in this Committee are the only two paid members of the staff, the Harbourmaster and the Deputy Harbourmaster, whose daily supervision is essential to the smooth running of the harbour,
Administrative skills have been a strong feature of Dunbar Harbour Trust which has enjoyed input from retired lawyers and accountants over its eighteen year life. The Trust has been able to develop a reputation for the highest probity and good governance, and is monitored by the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator.
Harbour life includes the provision of retail outlets, the organisation of major festivals and events, the development of harbour artwork, and educational sessions with Dunbar’s children. These require huge commitment and skill from the trustees who manage these important aspects of the harbour.
Event management usually involves the use of Dunbar Battery, and the management of the Coastal Garden up on the Battery presents different challenges for the trustees and volunteers involved with this work.
Dunbar Harbour Trust produces a monthly newsletter, full of the stories and pictures of the harbour. This is the work of one of the trustees and is freely issued to anyone who wants to be placed on the circulation list. Other news items can be found through other social media.
The roles of the Dunbar Harbour Trustees are many and various. The principal requirement is for a trustee to have a love of the harbour and a determination to cherish it for the future. The Trust is responsible for the wonderful McArthur’s Store which houses the Trust Office, and for Dunbar Castle which provides the iconic backdrop to all of the Trust’s activities.
“This is YOUR TOWN. We would love to meet you to discuss how you might enjoy contributing to the life of Dunbar’s harbour. If any of the above is of interest, please contact email@example.com .”
Photo Credits to: Bob Felt (McArthur Store & boats) and Rebecca Miller (Fishermen's Monument)