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The Old Bridge, Wick - Watercolour, 16 x 26 cm

For much of it's early history, Wick was little more than a small collection of buildings at the mouth of the River Wick. However in the 19th Century, prosperity came to the town as a result of the growth of the fishing industry. Fleets sailed out of Wick, and other ports, in search of the huge shoals of herring that were in the North Sea at that time. This was happening at the same time that the Highland Clearances* were driving people out of their homes in much of Northern Scotland. Large numbers of these Highlanders were attracted to the fishing ports in search of work. In Wick it led to the construction of a new town, Pultneytown, on the south side of the river. The two communities were administered separately for many years, but eventually they were merged into one town. Sadly for Wick, the herring stocks crashed under the pressure of over-fishing, and the prosperous times came to an end.

Some imposing buildings were constructed during the prosperous years, including the grand Station Hotel, overlooking the stone Bridge of Wick, which was built in 1800 to replace a simple plank footbridge.

The shortest street in the world is to be found in Wick: it is 2 metres long and contains a single doorway. Another surprising fact is that the artist L.S. Lowry** visited the town. Better-known for his paintings of the mill towns of Lancashire, he painted several views in Wick, and there is a heritage trail following in his footsteps.

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* Highland Clearances -

** L.S. Lowry -


We passed through Thurso last summer during our holiday. It seemed a small town but it did have a supermarket! I think they were putting up lots of turbines outside of the town which was sad to see. Hope there are not many up by Wick. Have not been to Wick in years. I was interested to read all about the town and the herring fishing. Nice painting Keith.
Bruce Sherman said…
I had missed all of these March paintings Keith. Such an array of atmospheric eye candy... with great gobs of historical data to enhance the paintings themselves.

I am particularly drawn to Wick, The Lairig Ghru and Slioch and Loch Maree pieces because of the tremendous atmospheric and spatial achievement in these works in particular.

Glad that I checked in today.

Happy Easter to you and yours Keith!
Warmest regards,
Keith Tilley said…
Hello Caroline, Thurso is small town, but it must have been even smaller before the Dounreay nuclear site brought an influx of people and prosperity. I was a bit disappointed when I moved up here and found that it wasn't the ferry port for Orkney. That's round the bay at Scrabster. I think the town would have a different feel if it had a big harbour with ships coming and going.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of wind turbines over towards Wick. There are several sites which are so close together that they look like one big one. They're inland a bit though, so they're not too noticeable from the town.
Keith Tilley said…
Hi Bruce, these are posts that I am moving over from Google+, now that has closed down. I hope to continue posting pieces in this format when there is some historical or geographical interest.

I hope you're getting settled in well in your new home, and that you're able to relax now and tend to your aches and pains! I look forward to seeing your first explorations in paint of your new area.

All the best,
and Happy Easter,
Diane said…
I have never been to Wick, but your painting lets me both hear and feel the water, which is both cold and fresh. A beautiful contrast between the natural and the man-made.

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