Beatster using needle working on nets

All nets were made by hand untill James Paterson opened a factory in 1820 at Musselburgh making cotton drift nets on a loom, Walter Ritchie of Leith improved Paterson's loom with a way of tightening the knots.

These nets became widly used because they were light to handle and a boat could carry a greater number. By the twentieth century Mussleburgh was the centre of the net making industry with branches at various ports throughout the East Coast, the main workforce were called beatsters, this name comes from to beat or bete which means to mend.

 Beatsters needle

The coton was delivered into the winding room in skeins and then wound onto spools, these spools were then taken to the machines. When the machines had made the lint (net) the beatsters inspected them and repaired any faults in them, the lint was 55yards by 14yards at this time. They were then gaurded, this meant putting a strengthend piece of netting down each side. A cord was then beated on with needles all round the net, this was called mounting, the drift net was now 35yards in length. Before the net went to the tannery the ossels were put on these joined the meshes of the net to the netrope and held the corks in position.

The beatster needed plenty of light for their work so the would work on the top floor normally with a rooflight in the sloping roof. Up to now women had been the main workforce but men did the tanning by adding the net ropes and tanning the nets.


Fishing Industry



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