Online Encyclopedia

WICK

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 618 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WICK, a royal, municipal and police burgh, seaport and county town of Caithness, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 7911. It is situated at the head of Wick Bay, on the North Sea, 327 M. N. of Edinburgh, by the North British and Highland railways. It consists of the old, burgh and Louisburgh, its continuation, on the north bank of the river Wick, and of Pulteneytown, the chief seat of commerce and trade, on the south side. Pulteneytown, laid out in 18o5 by the British Fishery Society, is built on a regular plan; and Wick proper consists chiefly of the narrow and irregular High Street, with Bridge Street, more regularly built, which contains the town hall and the county buildings. In Pulteneytown there are an academy, a chamber of commerce, a naval reserve station and a fish exchange. Among other buildings are the free libraries, the Rhind Charitable Institution and the combination hospital. The port consists of two harbours of fair size, but the entrance is dangerous in stormy weather. The chief exports are fish, cattle and agricultural produce, and the imports include coal, wood and provisions. Steamers from Leith and Aberdeen run twice a week and there is also weekly communication with Stromness, Kirkwall and Lerwick. It is to its fisheries that the town owes its prosperity. For many years it was the chief seat of the herring fishing on the east coast, but its insufficient harbour accommodation has hampered its progress, and both Peterhead and Fraserburgh surpass it as fishing ports. Women undertake the cleaning and curing, and the work attracts them from all parts. So expert are they that on the occasion of a heavy catch they are sent as far even as Yarmouth to direct and assist the local hands. Shipbuilding has now been discontinued, but boat-building and net-making are extensively carried on. There are also cooperage, the manufacture of fish-guano and fish products, flour mills, steam saw mills, a ropery and a woollen manufactory, a brewery and a distillery. The town, with Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall and Tain, forms the Wick group of parliamentary burghs. Wick (Vik or " bay ") is mentioned as early as 1140. It was constituted a royal burgh by James VI. in 1589, its superior being then George Sinclair, 5th earl of Caithness. By a parliamentary bounty in 1768 some impetus was given to the herring-fishery, but its real importance dates from the construction of a harbour in 18o8.
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