A new nautical sculpture by the so-called “Stonehaven Banksy” has been unveiled – on the cliffs above the historic shipwreck that inspired it.
The intricate metal model, based on the ill-fated schooner Isabella, can now be seen in Newtonhill as part of a project to boost the village’s post-Covid recovery.
This is the first time one of the famous works by Jim Malcolm – who got the nickname because he installed the originals under cover of darkness – has been seen anywhere outside his home town.
It was commissioned by a community group set up to find ways to attract visitors and help local businesses get back on their feet as lockdown eases.
In a low-key ceremony, the Isabella was caried down to the braehead and fixed in place by a team of volunteers including Alan Jones, who chairs the group.
“We are delighted”
Anna Hall, who opened Skateraw Store café and shop with partner Jamie Donald just before the pandemic struck, came up with the original idea of attracting fans of the Stonehaven sculptures up the coast to the village where she grew up.
She said: “It looks fantastic – probably even better than we imagined.
“We are delighted to have brought it to the village and hopefully it will be a real draw for visitors and allow people to discover more of Newtonhill and our beautiful coastline.”
Daughter Ada, 4, added that she hoped it would also be enjoyed by the dolphins and other wildlife to be seen in the area – including a pod of orca whales which were recently photographed from near the same spot.
The initiative is among several selected for funding by Aberdeenshire Council’s Phoenix Fund programme for smaller town and village centres.
A series of linked walking routes starting from the sculpture will also be featured on a new Newtonhill and Beyond website and Facebook page.
It carries details of businesses and voluntary groups, maps and guides to the walks, historical information and community updates for the village and nearby Muchalls and Chapelton.
The dramatic history that inspired the sculpture
The story of the Isabella, a Banff-based schooner whose crew was saved thanks to a daring rescue mission by locals in a huge storm in 1888, is still writ large in local history.
When the 93-tonne vessel, heavily laden with a cargo of coal heading to Banff from Sunderland, struggled into the harbour as it took on water, a “gallant band” gathered on the shore.
With the south-south-easterly gale still blowing with full fury, witnesses described a sea “running mountains high, breaking over the pier and sweeping everything before it”.
Hanging on by the rings on the pier to keep themselves from being washed off, rescuers were able to throw a rope.
One by one the crew were able to get themselves, hand over hand, to the relative safety of the pier despite the crashing waves threatening constantly to send them flying into the water.
Leaving the deck last, the skipper was knocked backward by a breaker and only saved from a certain drowning by first one and then another of the locals grabbing a foot each and pulling him to safety.
The ship could not be salvaged and its valuable cargo lost.
A planned open day celebrating local groups and businesses and promoting the village will now take place at a later date, once restrictions are lifted further.
Read more on the ‘Stonehaven Banksy’
- Stonehaven ‘Banksy’ is back – with a shipwrecked schooner to kickstart the recovery