WEST WORD
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

List of Issues online

March 2006 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Rum, Eigg, Canna
West Word ten years ago

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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

snowy Mallaig

SNOW, SNOW, SNOW
Is this the most snow we've ever had at this time of year? It started on Tuesday 28th February and stopped for a while in the early hours of 2nd March. We woke to about 150mm (6 inches) of snow on Wednesday 1st and more continued to fall throughout the day, making minor roads treacherous and causing the schools to close. Some clear sunny days have had photographers have been out in force snapping the beautiful scenes. Our Mallaig weather guru Ian tells us that although he doesn't have the facilities to measure snow, he found his rain bucket full on 1st March and wondered 'how much snow is a bucketsworth?' He thinks it depends on how wet the snow is, but he estimated about 60 mm (2.5 inches). All in all Ian thinks we may have had some ten inches between 28th February and 2nd March. For comparison Ian says the years that come to mind are 1995 and 2004. 1995 was very cold but did it snow at this time of year? He adds: ' 2004 is interesting as the conditions were very similar to now at the same time of year, maybe a little warmer (my anemometer actually froze up overnight on the 1st/2nd March this year) but certainly there was enough snow to cover Mallaig roads.' We haven't suffered the very low temperatures of other parts of Scotland (-16º has been reported) but we have been down to -4.5º.

COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER AWARDS
Pictured here are some of the West Word team with the quaich and framed certificate which Chairman Robert MacMillan collected at the Press Ball last month.

Left to right: Robert, printer Roger Lanyon, editor Ann Martin, treasurer Sue Barrett and printer Alasdair Roberts.

photo>

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
OH DEAR! How many people have I retried this year! Dr Young was the latest but I think the list includes Donnie By Gosh and several others. They have all of course celebrated their retirals. Ah! Just as I've typed that word the computer automatically 'corrected' it to retrials so perhaps I can blame it!
February was a month for getting dates wrong - and not just BY West Word. Posters, notices, lots of days not matching dates. Mind you I think we took the prize by printing last year's February tide tables under the heading 'January'!
This month seems to be a Lifeboat issue! Coincidentally we have photos of the 1982 blessing of the Davina and Charles Matthews Hunter, an update on the fate of the Gordon Cubbins and a plea for any photos of the 1958 Lifeboat naming ceremony carried out by the Duchess of Kent.
If you're interested the Internet hits were 2157 for Dec 05 and 2967 for January 06.
Thanks to Roger for the printing this month and last. I'm a bit late again, again working from home, but normal service I hope will be resumed soon!
Ann Martin

Barbara MacKay (1906 - 2006)
When Mallaig lost its oldest inhabitant a fortnight ago, it also lost a significant witness to a century of Mallaig's history. After a short illness Barbara died peacefully at the Belford Hospital on February 20th . She was a mere one hundred and four days short of her hundredth birthday.
Barbara was born on the 4th of June, 1906, at No. 1 Railway Buildings to John and Jessie MacKay. Her father was a crofter from Sheildaig who came to Mallaig to work on the railway and, in time, he married a local lass, Jessie Gillies. Barbara was their fourth child in a family that eventually numbered ten, eight of whom were girls.
Through her mother, Barbara was great great grand daughter of William and Catherine Gillies, John Gillies and Catherine MacLellan, Lachlan Gillies and Christina MacKinnon, and John MacDonald and Margaret MacLellan, most of whom resided along the shores of Loch Nevis in the 1700's . At that time, of course, very few families lived in what has now become Mallaig. If any of the above couples are in your family tree, you are certainly related to Barbara MacKay.
Barbara grew up amongst her large family, surrounded by playmates from other often equally large families at Railway Buildings. When it became time to leave school she followed many another highland girl into "service", in her case to Helensburgh and Shandon. In her early twenties, she returned home to work first in the 'Refresh' and then in Archibald MacLellan's general provisions store (where the Marine Bar is now situated). Barbara was to spend the best part of thirty years serving there and her "tin of broken biscuits for the bairns" is remembered fondly by many a senior citizen of Mallaig. She always dealt very courteously with the islanders who sent their orders to the shop, and many a letter was treasured for its insight into island life. Lots of phrases and expressions contained in these letters passed into the family's folklore. Who remembers "… half price for dogs…" and "Have you a rubber boot, size 8? Good, I'll take two"?
Some readers will have memories of Barbara working elsewhere, and those memories are correct, for Barbara finished her working life alongside Bertie Maclean and Willie Kirk in D. & M. Maclean's (where the Tourist Office is now).
Wallace Brown loved to tell the tale of his father Gordon's arrival at Mallaig Station. In those days, many years before Mallaig got TV, the arrival of each train provided entertainment and would be witnessed by any who had the time to spare. As Wallace told it, his father got off the train and the first two people he spied were Barbara MacKay and her younger sister, Peggy. He thought to himself "If this is what the lassies are like, then Mallaig's the place for me!" He used to add that he truly thought he had arrived in Heaven.
Apart from her teen years in "service", Barbara spent the whole of her hundred years at two Mallaig addresses: first at 1, Railway Buildings (now Victoria Place) and, for the last sixty-two years, at 5, ClanRanald Terrace. For many years Barbara was a close friend of Nell Duncan, the baker's widow. Initially, she looked after Nell's son, Billie, when he was a lad and latterly was Nell's friend and companion. After his mother died, Barbara cared for her great nephew, Fraser, and became a surrogate mother to him. Always ready to try a new experience, at the grand age of 91 years, Barbara had her first flight when she visited Florida. Now, whether it was due to being happy, eating lots oily fish and tatties, or simply being lucky enough to have inherited great genes, Barbara lived an exceptionally healthy life, only spending time in hospital in her last few years. Indeed, as she said herself, "How many people in their nineties fall head first down the stairs and live to tell the tale?"
Barbara is survived by her sister, Nan, thirteen nephews/nieces and multitudinous great, and great great, nephews and nieces. Matriarch of the clan for the last 24 years, Barbara will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.


KNOYDART
To-day, Saturday, I'm late, sorry Ann but what a perfectly beautiful day and wonderful to be dri(er) at last. That's all I'm going to write about, the weather! February is invariably a quiet month here and there is very little to mention although there are a number of subjects pending in varied "pipelines". Here are a couple of photos from Burns Supper in January: Iain Addressing the Haggis and Knoydart's home-grown Ceilidh Band Kath, Rhona and Merv.
Anne Trussell

photo photo

ISLE OF CANNA
Hello again everyone, there is not much to report this month but I'll try my best. The R.J. McLeod's boys are planning to lay down the decking for our bridge next week and are doing well with the pier. The rat catchers are also doing well but sadly said goodbye to some very hard working people (ha ha) on 23rd February. Liz (Dizzy Lizzy) Boden has been out here for a week to teach at Canna Primary School while Mrs Soe-Paing has some well earnt management time. I hope there is more to report in March!
Kathryn MacKinnon

ISLE OF RUM
The New Year has brought taken us another step along our community development trail. I attended some meetings in January with the Council, LEC and local housing association to try to establish a way forward - firstly to investigate more funding for a development manager- which in recent years has been out of the question due to absolutely no available housing whatsoever, (we now have a temporary solution which should help for a while) and secondly to discuss possibilities for social housing. A meeting with Di Alexander and David Cottier from the HSCHT (Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust) and Lochaber Housing resulted in their willingness to look into a social housing programme on Rum. As in most rural communities, we have folk in substandard accommodation who require something more permanent and affordable. We are expecting a visit by David Cottier later this month.
The Phoenix Trust visited the castle this month to further their proposals to renovate Kinloch Castle and turn it into a going concern, they spent two days on a fact finding mission looking at various issues including resiting the hostel and the power supply which, currently almost running at capacity, will need upgrading in the future, especially as the new castle plus hostel is likely to consume more power. There's potential to extend the hydro up to the mam lochs to create an increased head, but that would cost a great deal. They will be putting together a feasibility study and business plans for the various options under consideration. This years annual deer cull has now been completed. A massive 450 deer were shot leaving the herd at approx 800, about half of its size a few years ago. This year's cull was greater than usual to actively reduce the deer numbers, SNH intend to reduce this yet further to lessen the likelihood of trees being grazed as part of their habitat restoration scheme. The trees in question have yet to be planted. In order to meet the cull target on time, helicopters and several extra stalkers were called upon, I believe they shot about 100 deer in a couple of days!!. Not everyone is in favour of the whole scheme, in terms of its implementation and objections have been lodged, whether they get anywhere is a different matter though.
Niall Turnbull left Rum last week, he's been here for a few years as a ghillie and filling in with estate work. Niall's left to explore the country in his campervan with Kendra (who finished working at the castle last week too) and then to forward his ambition of becoming a farrier. Any farriers out there need an apprentice ?? Niall's your man.
The snow's been welcome over here, not too much to cause any disruption, but enough to keep the kids happy. We would like to know which miserable git knocked down all the snowmen though.
Fliss Hough

ISLE OF EIGG
In those times of uncertainty weather wise, what with climate change and all that, it is reassuringly pleasant to have had a cold and frosty February, just like in the old days when it was called wolftime in the old language. It was very pleasant to have some cold and sunny weather to finish with slating work on the roof at on Brae cottage, and various other chores. The island children are also loving their bit of snow although farmers are naturally not so keen.
Birdwise, 18 Green Finches were seen at Galmisdale in Mid-February, a rare sight, and 3 Gold Finches in early February, an even rarer occurrence: according to John Chester, Eigg is a bit northernly for such birds, but this is a trend that has started in the last few years. John, who is coming back from his own seasonal migration (South Africa this time) and is finding the contrast in temperature from hot and humid to cold and frosty a bit startling, is understandably concerned about the recent news about bird flu hitting France. It's all we need after last year's disastrous seabirds breeding season.
Meanwhile things have come back to normal with the Loch Nevis which experienced gearbox problems, requiring its replacement by the old trusted Island Class vessel and the Sheerwater's twin. Thanks must go to Ian Gibbs and the rest of Cal Mac staff for making all the necessary arrangements for vehicles to come and go as per usual: it is amazing how you can take a service for granted once you get used to it: let's just hope that Cal Mac will manage to hang on for a few years yet after all.
Regular West Word readers may find this new approach surprising, but credit must go where credit is due. This time, I would be inclined to have a good rant about those cretins responsible for the upkeep of our "indispensable police mast" in Cleadale, which incidentally does not deliver what it has promised: coverage for our GP's telephone. So can the police actually use it? Because if it can't - and lack of coverage in Cleadale must be a huge problem for the force - it is an absolute and utter waste of public money as well as being a total pain for those of us who have to cope with this huge generator noise day and night, all this to ensure the 1 watt required is produced. Well done, Marconi, let's make everybody aware of your great green credentials… What about the windmill and the solar cell you promised us.…Following the huge cost incurred with the installation not to mention the artic lorry which got lost in the forestry, the latest episode in this sorry saga is that the huge caterpillar machine surely capable of climbing Mount Everest which they sent to refuel their diesel guzzling monster completely destroyed the area it tried unsuccessfully to cross, creating havoc with the Cleadale water pipes, and the road in the Bealach Clithe. I'd like to know if the Marconi chappie in Morar would like this to happen on his land…
Anyway, enough moaning, February being the carnival month, our thoughts are with Ben Cormack and Felicia Greene who are enjoying themselves in Brazil, having taken part in the monster Rolling Stones concert in Copacabana beach, and are now heading for the last of carnival festivities in Florianapolis before going to Peru. We were supposed to have our own revelries here with the last leg of the Feis Eige storytelling and stepdancing project, featuring Dougie Beck and John Sikorski, but the weather was against us. We made do with Brian's birthday instead, a two-day affair as it was combined with Natasha's, always a fun time when she is around! We shall expect our story-teller and dancer in March, with hopefully a visit by fiddler and step-dancer Andrea Beaton, of the famous Cape Breton musical family, (she is also Natalie MacMaster's cousin and Duncan Ferguson's relative!) who is really looking forward to discover the land of her ancestors!
Camille Dressler.

GLENFINNAN
The plans for Highland Year of Culture 2007 are taking shape. We have changed the name of the Gaelic Glenfinnan project to Glenfinnan 07 and the project group has met twice. Thank you to everyone who responded to our questionnaire. The response was excellent and overwhelmingly supportive. Lots of great ideas were put forward and we were delighted with the offers of help and the willingness of people to share their time and skills. We are now going to go ahead and make a funding application. I'll let you know how we get on!
Joe Gillies has been delivering our post lately with his cheery smile and wave. In the short time he's been working as a postie he's had a few tricky situations. One day he was delivering post in Fort William when he had a bit of trouble with a dog. When the man of the house came to the door to see what was going on all Joe could say was, "Your mail's in the dog!" then make a hasty exit. Several villagers, including myself, attended a wonderful film in the Nevis Centre as part of the Fort William Mountain Film Festival. It was the Norwegian silent film Growth of the Soil with the original music score being played by a live Norwegian and Scottish Orchestra. John White and Hege Hernes (originally from Norway), both Glenfinnan villagers, were playing in the orchestra. It was a fantastic experience. I took my Norwegian grandfather along and he really enjoyed the film and was glad of the opportunity to speak in his native tongue with some of the orchestra.
A quiet evening in Glenfinnan House Hotel was noisily interrupted one Friday by Little Bo Peep, her two collies and a flock of sheep. It was Catherine Robertson's hen party and we were on our way for a night out in Fort William and what a laugh. It was so much fun I was still laughing when I woke up the next day.
Manja Gibson won a makeover and was featured in Boost magazine for her slimming efforts. She also made the front page of the Oban Times. Manja managed to lose 5 stone with the help of Scottish Slimmers and with some determination. She is delighted with the result and looks fabulous.
Glenfinnan House Hotel had a Thai curry night. The food was delicious and attracted a good number of people. Good company, good food, good night.
Eileen O'Rua


February 2006 Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
There were some unusual visitors at the beginning of the month, when 2 Water Rails were discovered in a boggy corner of a garden in Arisaig on the 8th. These normally very secretive birds were observed for a couple of days, sometimes well away from cover, feeding on the open lawn.
There were numerous reports of goldfinches feeding in gardens with up to 4 at a time reported from Rhue, Arisaig Village, Fank Brae, Mallaig and Mallaig Vaig. Siskins were reported from Arisaig throughout the month, while the first birds back in Morar gardens did not appear until the 27th.
At least 6 Reed Buntings were seen along with Yellowhammers, Green and Goldfinches by Loch nan Eala on the 8th. Small flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings continued to roam the area throughout the month. The piebald Blackbird was reported from the Lovat Terrace area of Mallaig.
Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones were about the New Breakwater area all month, with a small flock of 7 Purple Sandpipers seen resting on the rocks at East Bay on the 5th. Woodcock were reported from Morar, Kinsadel, Gorston and Arisaig. With Spring just around the corner, Lapwing numbers at the Caimbe built up to approx. 30 birds by the month end. The first Greenshank of the year was seen on the Morar Estuary, near Riverside Cottage on the 26th. From mid-month, flocks of Skylark were seen at Traigh and Back of Keppoch.
On the wildfowl front, Goosanders and Goldeneye, were present on Loch Morar, while Red-Breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and Wigeon were seen around Loch nan Ceall, where there were at least 6 Shelduck by the month end. Whooper Swans were on Loch nan Eala although sometimes they did fly to other lochs in the area to feed. Two Mute Swans appeared back on Loch Morar on the 27th.
A male Hen Harrier was seen about the Glasnacardoch - Park Mhor area on the 15th, while a Golden Eagle was watched soaring over the North end of Arisaig on the 16th.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen near the Main's Farm, Arisaig, and also in a small patch of oak wood near the end of the Rhue road. Jays were heard in the woods on the East side of Loch nan Eala mid-month.
Finally 2 Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were seen on the Morar river between the Hydro dam and the sea-pool on the 26th.


Lifeboats
Ever wondered what happened to old Lifeboats? Well, this photograph taken in Hartlepool three months ago proves that at least one of them is still going strong after nearly 50 years at sea.

Gordon Cubbins

The E.M.M. Gordon Cubbins ON936 arrived in Mallaig to take up station at Mallaig in 1957. The 52' Barnett Class Lifeboat was officially named the following year by The Duchess of Kent in a ceremony watched by what is considered to be the biggest crowd everto have been in Mallaig. The City of Glasgow Police Pipe Band, local and national dignatories, local Guides and Scouts and, of course, the huge crowd of on-lookers, all combined to make it a special day.
Although it didn't have a radar or a VHF the new Lifeboat was a vast improvement on the previous vessel Sir Arthur Rose, although the Barnett Class had a reputation as being a pig to handle. George Lawrie recalls that 'It had a closed in cabin - we thought it was the bee's knees.'
Bruce Watt, Charlie Henderson and David McMinn were the coxswains who served on the EMM Gordon Cubbins which left Mallaig in 1982 after 25 years of sterling service which included 142 launches and 52 lives saved.
For the next three years, she was an RNLI Relief vessel and was then sold to a buyer in Scrabster in 1985. Where she was between then and now I don't know but here she is today, a charter vessel in Hartlepool.


photo photo

Our thanks to Roger Allen of Walton by Lincoln
who has sent us these photos of the blessing of Arun Class Lifeboat
The Davina and Charles Matthews Hunter in 1982.

Svitzer Mallaig
Thanks to Moe for finding this photograph on the Internet.
The Svitzer Mallaig is the eighth of a series of tugs built by the Danish company
Svitzer-Wijsmuller. In September last year it was in Denmark but now it is a Clyde tug at Greenock!


West Word - ten years ago
The questionable Maruma ownership of Eigg was highlighted on the cover and page 2 with local MP Sir Russell Johnston opining that the Government should step in and initiate a buy out of the island from Maruma. The photograph on the cover of the March 1996 edition of West Word showed the Eigg Estate cattle, the last of their livestock, being loaded onto the ferry Bruarnish for transportation to the Oban market.
Breakthrough for Mallaig Health Clinic was the headline of the other cover story with the words below indicating that a generous donation of £100,000 from Sir Cameron Mackintosh would enable the preparation of the site to be carried out paving the way for the Health Clinic to be built.
The letter's page was dominated by the vexed question of Sunday Landings at Mallaig Harbour and this topic was also covered in High Allen's Fishing Column.
The minutes of the Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig Community Councils were on show in the Round and About section with Morar predicting attendance by Mrs Frances Shand Kydd at a Ceilidh/Buffet Dance in Morar Hotel later in the month. Arisaig meanwhile seemed to indicate that improvements to the Suinsletter Road were imminent - although I don't think it was ever done and residents along the road are still waiting ten years on!
West Word committee member Ross Campbell (who was also Treasurer at the time) started off his astronomical page 'Heaven's Above', which mentioned planets, comets, eclipse of the moon and shooting stars while regular features like Heather Smith's Letter from South America, Paul Galbraith's Gaelic pages and Neil Robertson's Down to Earth column continued. Ruby wedding wishes were conveyed to Betty and Alan MacKenzie and Elizabeth and George Henderson and both couples were pictured on their wedding days - 40 years before.
A clutch of wedding anniversaries were included in the Snippets of March 1996 so happy anniversaries to Donnie and Mabel Crocket (22 years), Robert and Ann MacMillan (22 years), Charlie and Christine King (30 years), Johnny and Evelyne MacMillan (12 years), and David and Rosie McMinn (42 years) - and they have all made it and all still together ten years down the line.!!! Stephen Burt provided a pointer to his future career with an item on Film Making in the Highlands and, still on the movie theme, there was a letter of thanks to the local populace from Zentropa Productions who had been filming 'Breaking the Waves' in the area.
The Great Rhum Fire of 1969 was recalled by Lawrence MacEwen and there was news of a new greenkeeper for Traigh Club. A 1950 photograph of Arisaig FC was included on the sports page along with news of local athletes Neil Campbell. Douglas Runcieman and James Coull.
A sponsored boat push from Elgol to Broadford (the boat was on a trailer) raised the splendid sum of £2000 for the Mallaig Lifeboat while antics of a different kind were told of in the story of C.C., an 18 month filly at Inverguseran!
There was an appeal for locals to come forward to join the local Fire Service in Mallaig, which was facing a recruitment crisis, and on the same page there was a welcome for 'Ginger' - the new gift shop at Arisaig Hotel.
I loved the report on the Inverie Burns Supper by Stephanie Harris (Primary 2) which was listed on Primary School Page. It read 'I went to the Burns Supper with Mum and Mark. The babysitter stayed with Tom. I did not have any haggis. The piper fell asleep on stage and Arthur fell asleep in his soup.' It's truly a classic, Stephanie!!!
RMM


ARISAIG TIMES
By coincidence, while Alasdair Roberts was discovering the store of information available in the pages of the Oban Times this winter, I had discovered that it is possible to access more than 200 years of issues of the London Times using the internet. Recent mentions of Arisaig in the pages of this publication seem to be confined to reviews of its restaurant facilities and a certain little misunderstanding involving a character from "Treasure Island", so I did not expect to find a lot of information of local interest in the Times Digital archive. In that I was wrong. An advantage of this archive over the Oban Times is that you can search it for keywords and a search for "Arisaig" returns 262 results. A small number of these are errors made by the software when "reading" the page, usually mistaking the word "arising" for "Arisaig". The search results also include a number of references in the Shipping pages to a Glasgow Line steamer named "Arisaig" but there are still many gems of interesting information.
The earliest reference to Arisaig that I have been able to find is in January 1816, reporting the narrow escape of "Mr Macdonald, younger, of Rhue", whose boat struck a rock in a gale when sailing from Arisaig to Knoydart. Mr Macdonald was lucky enough to make it to the shore but his three servants were drowned.
The next item of interest is historic. In June 1825 the Times carried an advertisement announcing the sale of "The Lands and Baronies of Moidart and Arisaig, and the islands of Eigg and Canna", with a brief description of the lands and the value of their rentals. It appears to have been a time when a lot of land was changing hands - on the same page are announced for sale the island of Gigha and large estates in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. As a result of this sale the Clanranald lands on the mainland were divided up and the estate of Arisaig passed into the hands of Lord Cranstoun, whose measures to alleviate famine are recorded in 1836. In a story copied from the Inverness Courier, the Times states that he had distributed the sum of £20 to "alleviate the immediate wants of the poor" and intended to spend a further £100 "to encourage the people on his estate to establish fishings on the coasts".
In March 1846 another drowning incident was reported twice in the pages of the Times. On this occasion a group from Knoydart had been sailing home from Arisaig when they struck a rock and began to sink. Their shouts for help were heard by Miss Jane Macdonald of Lochshiel, who was staying at Morar House, and a boat was launched in time to save five of the nine people on board.
Advertisements for parts of West Lochaber appear with depressing frequency in the the Times during the 19th century. In 1844 Rum is advertised, with a rental of £800, and the estate of South Morar appears on two occasions, in 1856 and 1878. On the second occasion it is suggested that it is "capable of division into two residential properties", something that was soon to come to pass with the division of Traigh from Camusdarach. One sale that does not appear is that of the Arisaig estate to Francis Astley in 1848, although it is mentioned in an 1883 article which describes the changing fortunes of many West Highland estates. The first mention of Mr Astley's name linked to Arisaig marks his death in Canada in 1880, "drowned, by the upsetting of a canoe".
Three years later the Times carried a notice marking the marriage of Francis Astley's daughter Gertrude to Arthur Nicholson at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton and after this a considerable proportion of references to Arisaig turn out to be connected to the activities of the Astley-Nicholson family. In 1885 Arthur Nicholson attended a meeting of Highland landowners in Inverness where they discussed how they should respond to the Napier Commission's report on the condition of crofters and cottars. In 1912 we find them among those attending the Lochaber Ball in Fort William ("one of the chief social functions in the West of Scotland") and two years later read of the engagement of William Nicholson and Barbara Martin. Sadly, their marriage was to last barely eight months, as in 1915 William was reported killed in action. His younger brother Arthur had been reported wounded and missing in September 1914 and his death was finally confirmed in 1919.
The Bowman family also features regularly in the notices of the Times. In 1908 we learn of the marriage of Humphrey Bowman to Mary Caldwell of Morar Lodge and in 1914 of the death of his father, John Bowman, at the age of 64.
The gentry appear with regularity, but other people get a mention from time to time. One of the earliest excerpts, in 1829, tells of the marriage in Gibraltar of Catherine Farquhar to Captain John Macdonald of Arisaig, "Paymaster in His Majesty's Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers". In 1878 the Times recorded that the Rev. Angus MacDonald, missionary at Arisaig, had been appointed Bishop of the newly restored See of Argyll and the Isles. In 1895 Marian McDonald of Arisaig was among those entered on the Roll of Queen's Nurses "for nursing the sick poor in their own homes" and in 1920 the Times announced the hundredth birthday of John MacDonald of Arisaig, who was said to be "still actively interested in passing events". Not all the news is good. In March 1917 Private D Lamont is included on the seemingly endless list of names forming the Roll of Honour (Ranks) - no doubt other local names were published in the First World War casualty lists, but do not seem to have been linked to their home villages.
Items on a wide range of subjects appear. In 1868 the Times carried an article about the discovery of the crannog in Loch nan Eala twelve years before, and in 1873 the Times recorded that Arisaig Post Office had become a money order and savings bank office. In January 1892, in a lengthy article about extreme weather conditions, readers were told that the Arisaig - Fort William coach was running "pretty well to time, but the driver states that the snow is the deepest he has seen in the district in 20 years".
Later the same year readers learned that the corn mill at Arisaig had been closed by "a previous owner" and that corn had to be sent to Eigg to be ground.
So far I have only explored articles up to 1920 and here I have only mentioned those connected with Arisaig, but there is also a large amount of material relating to Knoydart and some interesting stories from Mallaig and Morar, including a report on the libel case which Alasdair found in the Oban Times and the story of a murder at Ardamurach.
More information about the stories mentioned here and how to access the Times Digital Archive is available at Mallaig Heritage Centre.
Malcolm Poole


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