Compelling Talk Explores Migration from Annan Harbour

A fascinating talk exploring the 1775 emigration of Annan families to Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia, will be presented by Alan Thomson next Tuesday, 25th April, at Annan Old Parish Church Hall.

The talk entitled: ‘A Voyage on the Lovely Nelly to a New Life – Migration from Annan Harbour’ tells the story of how families driven, by hope, ambition, and at times, desperation, took to the sea to seek a better future in the New World. With the prospect and lure of new opportunities, including work, land and a place to call home, it felt for many, that the huge risk was worth taking. Scraping together everything they had to make the journey a reality, the courageous families climbed aboard, clutching their meagre belongings, committed to making the life-changing voyage, while fighting to quell the uncertainty that plagued them.

Kathleen Cronie, who is organising these events on behalf of Annan the History Town, tells us more:


“We’re delighted to be welcoming Alan Thomson to present this fascinating, and very thought-provoking, talk, as part of Annan the History Town’s spring talks programme. Alan is an incredibly knowledgeable and engaging speaker, whose research, in collaboration with colleagues at the Annan Harbour Action Group, will guide us on a journey through hardship, resilience and hope.”


Given the challenges people were facing in their own country, and with appealing advertisements of the day suggesting they would be travelling on a “fine new ship” that offered “excellent accommodation”, the people of Annan set out on what promised to be a great adventure.

Unfortunately, the reality of life aboard the Lovely Nelly was harsh, with families becoming malnourished, struck down by disease and in some cases, sadly dying. Arriving in Nova Scotia, and at last leaving the horrors of the journey behind, the Scots settlers were beset by further challenges, finding themselves in the grip of famine and various land disputes.

Alan Thomson, who is the Strategic Projects Manager with Annan Harbour Action Group, tells us:

“We did some work on this just before lockdown and came up with some very interesting and detailed information. I’m looking forward to guiding guests through the story of how this came about, the source materials and the ship that transported them – Lovely Nelly.”


In addition to Alan’s talk, guests will have the chance to view a short film:


“The story was then dramatised, albeit with a much smaller cast that we had anticipated, and the end product is an excellent short film focussing on the lives and challenges faced by the economic migrants; resonant today as migrants continue to be exploited as they take to boats to seek a better life”


Talking about the origins of his passion for the history of Annan Harbour, Alan said:

“I was brought up at Waterfoot Farm when there was still a fishing fleet anchored in the river and later met all the fishermen when they brought their poke and Haaf Net fish to sell to Newbie Salmon Fisheries when my father was the manager there. I later developed an interest in history and facilitated a number of Iron Age archaeological digs at Hayknowes, which as a by-product turned up some interesting insights into Roman and Viking activities locally.”

Summing up, Kathleen said:

“We extend our warmest thanks to Alan for supporting our series of talks, and look forward to welcoming him, and our guests, along to Annan next week, where they will become immersed in a truly powerful and inspirational human story. One of our aims is that the programme will encourage folk to discover more about the area, and the people and events that helped shape their local history.”
  • Event Details – Tuesday 25th April at 7:30pm at Annan Old Parish Church Hall
  • Free Event – Suggested Donation £3
  • Photos attached: Alan Thomson and scene depicting the story of Lovely Nelly from Lot 52, performed by Buskers & Fox and Hound, in association with Annan Harbour

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