Historic fishery that belonged to the “father of scientific aquaculture” up for sale

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The Howietoun Fishery established by Sir James Maitland in 1881 and could be yours for £225 thousand.

Howietoun Fishery, farm workers sorting out the yearlings PHOTO University of Stirling Archives

It’s not everyday that a 19th century estate considered to be the “birthplace of modern aquaculture” comes on the market. However The Scotsman have spotted that the famed Howietoun Fishery is now up for sale on the property site, Rightmove.

A Scottish pioneer
In the 1870’s the Victorian fishery pioneered the study of trout and salmon farming, supplying live ova and fish on a worldwide scale. Sir James Ramsay Gibson Maitland (1848-1897), a Scottish landowner, conducted experiments which ultimately evolved into the construction of one of the first internationally renowned fisheries, inspiring generations of salmon farmers.

Howietoun Fishery, farm workers beside early wooden plank ponds PHOTO University of Stirling Archives

On the estate, Sir Maitland would conduct scientific trials into trout breeding and rearing in the numerous ponds at Howietoun near Sterling, setting the standard for modern fish farming. He successfully overcame the difficulties by designing a new kind of pack that could transport live ova as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. According to NZhistory, the first successful shipment to Hobart, Tasmania in 1864 was achieved by packing the ova in soft, clean moss and embedding them deeply in natural ice.

The History of Howietoun: Containing a Full Description of the Various Hatching-Houses and Ponds, and of the Experiments Undertaken From 1873 to 1886 by Sir James Ramsay Gibson Maitland

After Sir James died in 1897, his family continued running the business, to varying success. However a failed foray into rainbow trout farming in the 1960s brought an end to the Maitland aquaculture dynasty.

University of Stirling
In 1979, the Howietoun Fishery, Milnholm Hatchery and Sauchiemill were bought by the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling primarily for the practical training of students as well as maintaining a commercial enterprise. The University has now put the site up for sale for GBP 225 thousand.

Today the sale extends to about 27 acres which is divided into two distinct areas. On the site plan, the red zone extends to about 12.86 acres and includes the historic fish ponds but also a number of A and B listed buildings.

Truly unique
Talking to the Scotsman, Carl Warden at Bell Ingram, sale agent for the site said: “Howietoun Fishery has exceptional character and is truly unique in its design.

“If bought by somebody eager for a project, and with the right vision, it could be restored to something really quite remarkable.” PHOTO Bell Ingram Rightmove

“Its land and buildings offer an exceptional development opportunity. If bought by somebody eager for a project, and with the right vision, it could be restored to something really quite remarkable, 
it’s a very exciting prospect.”