On Mr and Mrs Roost’s tranquil photograph of the shingle beach at Durness (picture gallery, 10 September), the rusting lump of metal in the foreground interested me.
It is a hand winch known as a “fixed engine”, which, bolted securely to the rocks, was the central part of one of the coastal salmon fishing stations that at one time were located at almost every small beach and flat rocky area round the Scottish coast.
Strictly regulated by law, these stations provided a sustainable harvest of salmon and a hard, seasonal living for teams of about four fishers. They rowed their cobles to lay a net in a semi-circle, before hauling it, and hopefully its catch, back to shore with the “engine”. The stations were bought up and closed last century by the richer rod fishing lobby, destroying yet one more small strand of the fragile rural economy in the process.