News

Loch Ness heritage group letters

On Saturday the 23rd July 2022 the South Loch Ness Heritage Group had had a stall in one of the larger marquees, along with the local spin and chatter group and the Strathnairn Farmers at the Corriegarth Highland Gathering . The Gathering was the first event of its type for several years for Strath and the first large event since Covid. The last one being the Stratherrick games at Compass around 1987, to raise funds for the upgrading Stratherrick Hall. The Gathering was well attended and lots of attendees came to our marque to see the displays, featuring all aspects of Sheep Husbandry, Game-keeping and the Startherrick Glass Ball /Clay Pigeon Club and the maps concerning Corriegarth and the British Aluminium water management in 1896 to provide hydro power to the factory at Foyers . There was also a mystery object competition for a £10 book voucher , which was won by Alan Beith, Trinliost area. Outside the tent was a pony saddle for carring deer from the hill after being shot and a shepherds shearing stool where the sheared sat at one end and the sheep was placed on the stool and clipped . There was also a selection of vintage tractors, agriculture equipment and a Saw mill that our chairperson Bob Main’s personal collection ,which through the afternoon were involved in giving working demonstrations .

Mystery objects stall
Sheep Display
Gamekeeping and Glass ball club display
Deer Saddle and Shearing Stool
Vintage Tractors
Saw bench

For our first summer outing since 2015, the South Loch Ness Heritage Group had a field trip on the 2nd July 2022 to the refurbished Medieval Kirkmichael in the Black Isle. The Kirkmichael Trust under the chairmanship of Dr Jim Maclean have repaired the ancient and derelict buildings at Kirkmichael and created a unique display of local medieval ornamental crosses within the refurbished buildings. Jim met the group and explained the layout of the old and new parts of the adjoining graveyard, why the older part is raised a couple of feet in height above new, due to the density of interments over the last six hundred years in that part. Also explained and showed example of pre reformation flat grave stones, table stones and the upright gravestones. One of Jim’s colleagues Davine showed us the only Gaelic gravestone in the cemetery even though that was the language spoken in the district, all of the older gravestones were engraved with old Scots. Jim then took us inside the refurbished Chancel and Nave of the church and explained the reason for the symbols on the medieval crosses there, also regaling us with stories about some of the families within the area that were interred in the churchyard .    The subject of  photogrammetry was explained  to us which is taking about 50 photographs of a badly eroded gravestone in various angles and in different lights and by a computer programme a more clear indication of what is carved  on the stone  can be obtained .   The trust have done a marvellous job at the site and are still actively repairing stones etc on site each Saturday. Our group were fascinated by the visit and of the restoration work that has been done, and still ongoing. Locally in our district we have Boleskine cemetery which the earliest stone recorded to date is 1729, which within its boundary has a Mort House, one of only two in the North of Scotland.  On seeing what has been done at Kirkmichael surely there is scope for a similar project here.

During both World Wars, extra timber was urgently needed and thousands of lumberjacks were recruited by the UK from Newfoundland (Newfies) to help cut and process trees, mostly in Scotland

Unlike the Canadian Timber Corps the Newfoundlanders were not military men (Newfoundland was not part of the Canadian Federation till 1949) and volunteered to come to Britain.  Generally the Canadians set up the camps and sawmills and moved on leaving them to be operated by the Newfoundlanders. The sawmills were set up all over the country where there was available timber, mainly in Scotland.

Remnants of the mill at Whitebridge, just north of the Wildside Centre was examined and photographed by Alasdair and featured in the presentation, where 35 people came to hear Alasdair’s fascinating talk. He included slides of the crowded boats that crossed the Atlantic, foresters in action, maps of camps and a historic newsreel. Many Newfies stayed and married local lassies.

Alasdair brought his collection of old axes (including double-bladed) and tools, and our own Alister Chisholm displayed his grandfather’s Board of Trade purchase order dating from 1946 for equipment from the Whitebridge sawmill. On display was the large circular saw blade and rollers from the bench.

A Newfoundland man living in Invergarry came to the talk and brought his father who had arrived in Scotland the previous day to visit his family. They added greatly to the discussions afterwards. It was good to hear the noisy hubbub of a live interactive meeting.

£210 in donations were made for the Disasters Emergency Committee (Ukraine)

Visiting Lumberjacks: Forestry Corps in Wartime Scotland, on 11 May at 7:30pm, at Wildside, Whitebridge. 

Alasdair Cameron will talk about the importance of timber in both World Wars and how lumberjacks crossed the oceans to harvest the Scottish trees and meet the Scottish Lassies.  With reference to the Newfoundland (Newfies) Forestry Camp at Whitebridge which was active in the later part of WW2 and for a period at the end of the war.  Though masks are not compulsory, Heritage group talks attract many people from at risk groups so we would request that masks will be worn for the talk.

Admission to this talk is free with donations welcome .On this occasion all donations will be given towards aid in Ukraine via the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Future Heritage events:- 2nd July trip to  Kirkmichael Trust  in the Black Isle(https://www.kirkmichael.info/ ) and Lest You Forget Stratherrick, talk by Alister Chisholm in September.

“Lest You Forget Stratherrick” by Alister Chisholm.  Cost £7 + P& P where applicable . Now available to get a copy contact Alister at 01463 715713, or alister.chisholm@btinternet.com . Also available from Cameron’s Tea Rooms, Foyers and Inverarnie Stores .

The book gives information on the names of fallen of both World Wars that are listed on the Stratherrick War Memorial. Also detailing events in the district during the First World War, including recruitment locally to the forces, how the manufacturing and agriculture of the area managed during WW1 when so many men were away at war. Fund raising for help and comforts to be sent to the local serving men, military service tribunals and land raids by returning demobilised servicemen. Also includes a Roll of Honour of servicemen from the district who served during WW1 and List of Subscribers who contributed to the memorial. See Publication page

SOUTH LOCH NESS HERITAGE GROUP
7.30pm, Tuesday 23rd November, Stratherrick Hall
Stories From The Lovat Estate Maps
Maps, Mapmakers, Mapmaking, of the Lovat Estates which includes large parts of Stratherrick
A talk by Roland Spencer -Jones

Roland will decribe the NoSAS project which digitised the maps of the Lovat Estates, showing a number of examples. He will explore the world of pre-OS map-making, focusing on the stories that the Lovat Estate maps tell us

Wade Bridge Trust
Roland’s presentation will be preceded by a short AGM

Due to Covid, for this event at Stratherrick Hall the wearing of masks will be compulsory for everyone, no exceptions during the period you are in the building. This is for the protection of yourself and others attendees of the event. Sanitizer will be provided and list of Attendees for track and trace will be taken . Dress warmly as hall window may be open to give ventilation.

In light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, we cancelled our March talk “Maps, map makers and map making; stories from the Lovat Estate by Roland Spencer Jones . We hope to have this in 2021 sometime, dependent on the current situation at the time .
For our Summer event this year we had hoped have two trips ,one to Invergarry Railway Station to see the work done by the Invergarry Station Preservation Society + we hoped to visit the the restored Kirkmichael Church in the Black Isle to look at the restoration work inside the church and adjoining graveyard . In light of current restrictions these will not now go ahead , we hope to hold these trips some time in 2021, all dependent on situation at time . Our talk in October following our AGM was to be by Norman Newton , “”Inverness Klondikers in the Yukon, 1898: Four explorers and an eccentric Free Church minister”, again this was cancelled we hope to have this in 2021, dependent on the current situation at the time .

Louise Boreham who gave us a fascinating and thoroughly researched talk us at Aldourie Castle on the Aldourie Pottery in Dores on 22nd March 2016, has completed her book on Mary Seton Watts  and the Compton Pottery. Mary’s childhood home was Aldourie Castle, and between 1900-04 was involved with  setting up a pottery in Dores though the main pottery was at Compton near Guildford . The book will be published on 2nd May 2019 in Hardback,
ISBN No 9781781300855, price £35 and is already available to order in advance from

Watts Gallery on-line shop    https://shop.wattsgallery.org.uk/collections/bespoke-books/products/marty-seton-watts-and-the-compton-pottery

Bloomsbury   https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/mary-seton-watts-and-the-compton-pottery-9781781300855/

Waterstones    https://www.waterstones.com/book/mary-seton-watts-and-the-compton-pottery/hilary-calvert/louise-boreham/9781781300855

Amazon    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Seton-Watts-Compton-Pottery/dp/1781300852

Blackwells    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Mary-Seton-Watts-and-the-Compton-Pottery-by-Hilary-Calvert-author-Mary-S-Watts-Louise-Boreham-author/9781781300855


Mary Seton Watts  
and the Compton Pottery

By Hilary Calvert and Louise Boreham

The first biography of Mary Seton Watts showcasing her outstanding design skills and the art potteries she established.

This comprehensive book is both a biographical exploration of the early life of Mary Seton Watts and a survey of the pottery she designed. Her roots in Scotland, her artistic career and her marriage to the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts all influenced the design of the Grade 1 listed Cemetery Chapel at Compton and the art potteries which she then set up, both in Compton (The Potters’ Arts Guild) and in her home village near Inverness. The pottery at Compton was in business for more than fifty years, making terracotta garden ware, memorials and small decorative pieces. It remained open through two World Wars and a trade depression. This highly illustrated publication showcases the beautiful and individual pieces of pottery and is a fitting tribute to the ability of Mary Watts to coordinate both people and resources.

Hilary Calvert‘s interest in The Potters’ Arts Guild started with a chance visit to the Watts Gallery in 1988, when the then Curator showed her pottery as well as pictures. Having previously written a book on ‘Chameleon Ware Art Pottery’, this was another opportunity for research which soon led to a collection of Compton pottery and ultimately to the publication of this book.

Louise Boreham has been researching the Compton and Aldourie Potteries following the discovery in the 1980s, that her sculptor grandfather, Louis Deuchars, began his career as the lead modeller of the terracotta decoration on the Compton Cemetery Chapel. She has contributed to books and published articles on architectural sculpture and ceramics, lectured to specialist interest groups and taken part in radio and television broadcasts on the subject.

Our autumn event will be on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 7.30 pm in Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck – we’re a little later than usual this year.  We’ll start with the usual brief AGM, which will be followed by the main event, something we’ve been looking forward to for a while, Part Two of Morag MacNeill and Bob Main’s presentation on local Gaelic place names.   Morag, a fluent Gaelic speaker, will explain the Gaelic meanings behind our local names, nearly all of which have Gaelic origins, while Bob will be at the projector with the relevant maps and pictures.   Part One was very enthusiastically received, and we hope this follow-up will generate at least as much lively interest.

At a most successful meeting on September 12th, at which the chair summarised the challenges facing the Group, four of those present volunteered to join the committee, one of these as Secretary.   These four joined two who had already come forward before the meeting, including one for the vital role of Treasurer.   Taking account of those who are leaving or have recently left us, this gives us a committee of ten, which hopefully will enable us to spread our wings and take on new projects.   Huge thanks to those now leaving, and who have helped to keep the Group going over the years, and a hearty welcome to those who will take us forward into pastures new.   Our new volunteers will be properly appointed at our AGM, hopefully to be held in late October.

There was considerable lively discussion at the meeting about the direction a revitalised Heritage Group should take.   The importance of good publicity was highlighted, and this will be a priority for the new committee to consider.   A major topic for discussion was projects the Group could take forward – these can play a huge part in enthusing folk to get involved, and spreading the word that the Heritage Group is playing a positive and active role in recording and researching our past.   The idea of some form of heritage centre was mentioned, and should the opportunity to establish something of this sort come up, our much-strengthened committee will hopefully be in a position to play an active part.

Many thanks to all who attended the meeting – your interest and support is vital!