Rigby’s Encyclopaedia of the Herring

aka The Herripedia


On the C19th Scottish origins and naming of the herring drifter known as the Baldie, including a photograph of two at Pittenweem


Like the currant biscuit which also originated in the 1860s, the name of this Scottish East Coast boat celebrates the popular Italian radical nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Developed from traditional open skiffs, which were favoured up until the mid C19th for reasons of cost and ease of operation, Baldies were decked, but had a large open section in the middle of the vessel. With a double-ended Fifie hull – clinker or carvel-built – it was between 23ft and 40ft in length, but the structure varied as fishermen and builders responded to the government encouragement and economic logics of part and fully decked boats. It was rigged with a dipping lug mainsail and a standing lug mizzen.

It is also known as the Leith Baldie, after the town where the first one was built.

Two Baldies at Pittenweem, 1936 (photo, National Maritime Museum)

Sailing Drifters by Edgar J March, London, 1952

British Fishing-Boats and Coastal Craft, Parts 1 & 2, by E W White, London, 1950

Inshore Craft of Britain in the Days of Sail and Oar, Volumes 1 & 2, Edgar J March, Newton Abbot, 1970

The Chatham Directory of Inshore Craft: Traditional Working Vessels of the British Isles, editor: Julian Mannering, London, 1997