This evening in the lovely Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre is an occasion to celebrate Wick, that small town tucked away in the north east of Scotland that many people know only as the home of a fine whisky – Old Pulteney – who fittingly are part sponsors of this evening.
Wick in the nineteenth century was the biggest herring port in the world with over one thousand ships spread across the harbour and the bay beyond. Five thousand women workers gutted and salted the herring and it was sent all over the world to sustain the British Empire and its armies. This story is expertly told by Wick storyteller Eric Farquhar in an entertaining way with many funny stories and tales of the cultural impact that this huge industry had on the town.
The second part of the evening is a famous Wick woman, Nancy Nicolson, who plays her accordion, tells stories and sings songs all about Wick and in particular about the time of prohibition when Wick went dry. Dry, that is, apart from the illegal stills that mushroomed around the town. One famous whisky still was in the middle of a moor with an elaborate umbrella of turf to cover it ,which evaded the excise men for years and was only revealed after an unfortunate fire!
The audience love this evening concert, not least because many are friends of Eric and Nancy, and some had come all the way from Wick to be there. Eric tells of how Wick is hoping to drag itself into the modern world by developing the decommissioning of oil rig platforms.Wick may not regain its former prominence as a herring port, but its story is well told by Eric and Nancy, and this special evening leaves you wanting to know more about Wick. It is a perfect part of Tradfest, using words and music to tell the story of a once great town now sadly neglected.