Johnshaven lies just off the main A92 coast road, between Montrose and Inverbervie. Like Gourdon, not far to the north, it is a village in which fishing remains the focus of life. It is all too common to find villages in which parked cars occupy every spare space: Johnshaven is the only village we know where the cars are displaced by the parked boats.
History fails to record who Johnshaven was named for, but it was an active fishing port at an early date. In 1722 it was said to be amongst the most important fishing towns in Scotland. However it declined during the rest of the 1700s, partly following a fishing disaster, partly as a result of the activities of Royal Navy press gangs.
In 1790 a sailcloth works was set up in the village which helped Johnshaven recover. By 1820 the village was being described as "a colony for the manufacturers of Dundee".
Today you find a village in which a fair proportion of the population are still engaged in fishing and related activities, with lobsters and crabs being the main product. The fisherman's cottage with oilskins, boots socks and gloves drying in the sun outside looks staged, as does the wooden fish box on the quayside: and anywhere else they probably would be. But in Johnshaven these remain everyday sights.
Of course, somewhere this attractive has also drawn in people who commute as far afield as Aberdeen and more locally to Montrose. Despite this, the village has avoided that dormitory feel that sometimes overtakes such places: and long may it remain so.
It is all too easy to miss Johnshaven as you drive along the A92. You catch glimpses of the village from the main road, and there are signposts to it. Next time you get the chance, take the small diversion to this little piece of Scottish history still there to be experienced by anyone who cares to look.
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