Boat Haven

The Unst Heritage Centre & Unst Boat Haven are now open!

Opening Hours:  Monday to Saturday 11am to 4pm.  Sunday Closed.

The Unst Boat Haven
For many hundreds of years Unst has lain in the midst of one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The small wooden boats fished for cod and ling which were cleaned, split, salted and dried on the stony beaches. The dried fish were then shipped abroad in massive quantities. Boats like the sixereen ‘FAR HAAF’ were capable of fishing thirty miles off shore., while sturdy fourereens fished nearer the coast. With the onset of sudden storms there were disastrous results.

Far Haaf In Sail

From the middle of the 1800’s herring fishing played an increasingly important part. It is difficult today to look round Unst and believe the following : In 1861 Unst had a population of 3000, In 1869 there were 28 fishing boats registered in Uyeasound. In one week in 1904 seven steamers sailed from Baltasound with 3000 tons of cured herring. In the three summer months of 1905 almost a quarter of a million crans of herring were landed at Baltasound (1 cran =4 herring baskets).

There were 40+ herring stations in Baltasound with their coopers, gutters, and labourers, – a huge extra summer population. It will help to bear this in mind when walking round the Boat Haven. The wooden boats all have one thing in common. They are all built in the Scandinavian style of construction.

During the winter months we are open by request , please contact us at to arrange for a volunteer to open the premises for you.