This work of art was made by the people of Eyemouth to commemorate the Great Disaster and records in stitches the names of the 189 lost fishermen.
Designed by Alastair I. Scott, organised by Mrs J. Dunnet and sewn by a team of twenty-four, the tapestry took two years to complete. The name panels which remember each boat and crew that perished, took 1,100 hours of needlework alone. With 100 stitches to every square inch, nearly 1,000,000 cover the 15 foot of canvas. The brilliant coloured wools come from France and over 400 dye shades have been used. For the most part, trimmed gros point stitch has been sewn, although rice, gobelin, cross and petit point stitches have been included for special effects. However, the amount of time, thought and dedication which has gone into this unique Tapestry cannot be summed up in facts and figures.
The first panel shows two fishermen, in sight of Eyemouth harbour, battling with the storm and its appalling weather. One of the men cries to his mate and the onlooker, for help. The next panel symbolises many elements of the Disaster, but above all man’s helplessness against Nature. The wreath of wild flowers, the drowned figures and the cliffs shaped in human profiles indicate that each part of the Tapestry has been carefully thought out.
The design then becomes more modern and the storm abates. The scene is that of a harbour; the pier is significantly made up of 129 stones, one for each Eyemouth fisherman lost. The four fish boxes represent the four harbours involved – Cove, St Abbs, Burnmouth and Eyemouth. Within the Cross which forms the central point of the Tapestry, a roundel contains symbols of food harvested at sea – crab, lobster, flounder and cod. The town’s coat of arms lies at the Cross’s centre. By the fifth and final panel the Tapestry’s tone is one of optimism. A window looks out on a bright sunrise indicating a new day. Below an impression is created of the interior of a wheelhouse with its instrument panel of radar and sonar equipment. This instrumentation ensures the fishermen of today a better and safer livelihood. The name of the first boat recorded in this Tapestry – Forget-me-not – is symbolic of the sentiment which lies behind this work of art.
You can view the whole tapestry in its splendour when you visit Eyemouth Museum.