headtext

 

heritage ogo


South Loch Ness Booklet

booklet

Help needed

Commemorating and recording the impact of the First World War on South Loch Ness Commemorating and recording the impact of the FirstWorld War on South Loch Ness In the centenary year of the start of the First WorldWar, the Heritage Group would like to do something to remember, research and record the ways in which the war affected South Loch Ness and those living in the area. Alister Chisholm 01463 715713 alister.chisholm@btinternet.com would be very pleased to have any suggestions as to how such a project could be tackled. Please get in touch with him with any ideas.

On Tuesday 23rd April at Stratherrick Hall we had a wonderful talk, excellently illustrated, by Dr Iain Robertson of the UHI Centre for History at Dornoch.   Iain’s style was clear and dynamic, befitting a professional lecturer on history, and it was pleasing to see a good turnout to hear him.

Iain explained the background to land problems;  how the traditional clan idea that the land you lived and farmed on was ‘yours’ was slowly eroded as clan chiefs came to be seen as ‘owners’ who could sell their land, and it often became sheep runs and deer forests in the 18th and 19th centuries, causing the notorious ‘clearances’.   These resulted in many smallholders, or crofters, getting squeezed on to congested, marginal land where they were tenants.   Starvation came with frequent potato harvest failures, and desperation led to ‘land raids’ as the 19th century moved towards its end.   Acts, such as the 1911 Crofters’ Act, tried to mitigate the crofters’ plight, but with very limited success.

The Great War changed this climate radically.  The Highlands produced a bigger proportion of the fighting force than other UK areas, and these men were promised ‘a land fit for heroes’.   Further ‘land raids’ took place, which although they were illegal, were viewed with increasing sympathy due to the war sacrifices made by the ‘raiders’.   After the war, further Acts of Parliament strengthened campaigners’ hands, and most people wanting land ultimately succeeded in their quest.  Housing improvements were made too.   While the greatest pressures for granting land were in the Western Isles and Skye, land raids were recorded in the Kingussie area, and at Dell farm in Stratherrick.

Coming up to date, these campaigns for land can be seen as the forerunners of successful, modern ‘community buy-outs’ as seen in Assynt, Eigg, North Harris and Gigha.

Iain’s talk stimulated a considerable number of questions from his audience, which he ably answered, and thoroughly deserved the hearty vote of thanks accorded to him.

 

WADE BRIDGE OF WHITEBRIDGE TRUST AGM

Before Iain Robertson’s presentation, John Townshend, chair of the Wade Bridge Trust, gave a brief report, indicating that no significant events had occurred since the last AGM.   The committee remained the same.   Information and photos of the Trust’s successful work in stabilising the bridge were on display.

The Heritage Group’s next event will be at Stratherrick Hall on Tuesday 23rd April at 7.30 pm.   Dr Iain Robertson of the UHI Centre for History will give us a presentation on the impact of the First World War on land tenure in the Highlands.   His scope will be broad; he will describe the traditional, historic relationship between Highlanders and the land, leading then to the tensions that precipitated the land raids of the 19th century.  The main aspect of his subject will be the way the war then expedited and extended the provision of land for the Highland population, with the topic being finally brought right up to date with the modern community buy-out movement.   This promises to be a really interesting talk on something most people have little detailed knowledge of, but which helps to explain why land tenure in the Highlands continues to be a major issue.

Iain’s presentation will be preceded by a brief AGM of the Wade Bridge of Whitebridge Trust.

Louise Boreham’s 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 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 Guilford . 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.

 

Apologies for the lateness of this report.   It was back on 6th November 2018 that Maureen gave us her talk on this fascinating topic.   She described the lives and activism of Inverness women at the time of the Great War, not only Suffragettes, who engaged in ‘civil disobedience’ and hunger strikes, but also Suffragists, who lobbied Parliament somewhat less stridently and won over many men to the justice of their cause – voting rights for women.   The war proved to be a great opportunity for women to demonstrate their capabilities, particularly in medicine and nursing (Dr. Elsie Inglis  still being a famous name a century later), and partial voting rights for women were agreed by Parliament as soon as the war ended.   It was, however, to be another decade before full women’s suffrage and equality with men were granted.   Maureen showed us, illustrated by well-chosen photographs and press cuttings, that this period was indeed the one that kicked off the struggle for gender equality which continues to this day, and that the women of Inverness and area played a significant and valuable part.

Maureen’s talk was preceded by a brief AGM of the Heritage Group.

Our Annual General Meeting is at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 6th November in Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck.   As always, we hope to keep it short, but this year it is of crucial importance.   To continue, the Group is looking for a Chair, Secretary and, if possible, a Treasurer, as well as new Committee Members.   The Heritage Group cannot have a future without these.   Please contact the current Chair (alan@tramstop.org) if you’re interested in volunteering for the committee, or can suggest someone who might be interested.

Following the AGM, Maureen Kenyon will give a talk entitled Local Women and the Great War.   She will describe the lives and actions of Inverness women involved in the Suffragette movement, as a celebration of the centenary of the introduction of limited voting rights for women.  This should be a fascinating view of the early stages of women’s emancipation at a local level, something that probably few of us know much about.

This will be an important evening for the Heritage Group, and we hope to see you there.

Apologies for the lateness of this post!   This exhibition, titled ‘Things we used to use’ was staged in Stratherrick Hall on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June 2018.   Quite literally hundreds of utensils, tools and artefacts from the past were on show, filling the hall, but leaving plenty room to circulate and chat as well.   All the exhibits were labelled, with photographs to show many of them in use, and committee members and friends of the Heritage Group were on hand to explain things and help everyone to wallow in nostalgia.

On the Friday, we had visits from those too young to experience nostalgia – the pupils of Foyers, Aldourie and Stratherrick Primary Schools.   they particularly enjoyed demonstrations of musical instruments, a wind-up gramophone, a stirrup-pump (great chance to get wet!) dairy utensils and laundry equipment.   Some of these items were outside, joining an old Ferguson tractor.

In the hall were exhibits relating to traditional activities of the area – such as farming, forestry and gamekeeping;  cobblers’ and blacksmiths’ tools were on show too.   Home and school were also well represented, with dozens of once-familiar (and quite a few still familiar) domestic items, plus school books, part of a desk (with inkwell) and the inevitable tawse!   A popular feature was the mystery table, displaying twenty strange-looking objects!   Most older visitors identified some of them, but only the most knowledgeable recognised the lot!

Joining our school visitors on Friday morning, and then in the afternoon and evening too, as well as on Saturday, was a steady stream of members of the public, some old friends and neighbours, but many visitors to the area too.   Reactions were invariably most enthusiastic, and it is clear that, after a breather of a year or two, there will be demand for another similar event.   We now have lists of the fascinating exhibits that many locals have in their homes, sheds and barns!

It’s always risky naming people who helped, either by contributing items or in storing, displaying or demonstrating them, because someone always gets left out.   Suffice to say that this was a wonderful team effort, preparations for which started a couple of months before the exhibition itself.   You all know who you are, so give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back!

Education for the young and nostalgia for the not-so-young!   The Heritage Group has gathered almost three hundred items from yesteryear for this exhibition at Stratherrick Hall, Gorthleck, on Friday 1st June (10.00 am -3.00 pm and 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm) and Saturday 2nd June (11.00 am – 3.00 pm).   Things we used to use for work, on the farm, in the home, at school and for entertainment.   It’s unlikely that such a significant exhibition will be mounted again, so don’t miss it!

 

Following requests received to the Heritage group after the Boleskine Community Care AGM, for a more formal showing of Heritage Groups photos that were displayed on in a rolling slideshow during the  tea break, after the  main business of the  AGM .  It was decided to have an event targeting the older residents and former resident of the area, showing Heritage photographs, including the Rose Fortune Collection to stimulate interest in local heritage.  Also to see if some of the photos containing unknown people could be identified.

 The event, to an invited audience and general public was held on Jan 24th to a good turnout despite the blustery weather. The photos were displayed on a screen via a projector. Bob Main  controlling the projector  displaying of the photos , Alister Chisholm did the commentary on the photos  whilst Morag Macneil, Alison Randall and Heather Parrot, recorded the names of people identified and stories associated  with people and places .  Prior to the event commencing and during tea intermission Scottish music was played by Ernie Randal and Alex Sutherland .

 The afternoon proved a great success and was enjoyed by the attendees as they recalled people and days of long ago from the Stratherrick and Foyers area .

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.

On Tuesday 21st March at Stratherrick Hall, we were treated to a fascinating and sometimes mind-boggling illustrated talk by Sandy Ross, retired Head of Geography at Millburn Academy, Inverness.   Anyone who knows Sandy is very aware of his huge enthusiasm for his subject, which came over so clearly as he graphically described the effects of the Wurm glaciation – the most recent stage of the Ice Age – on the land that the Inverness area now occupies.   Ice two or three kilometres thick covered the Highlands, and was slowly grinding over the land as gravity caused it to move down towards the sea – which it also covered.  The rocks in the Loch Ness area had been shattered by earthquakes along the Great Glen Fault (much more active in the distant past), so the huge weight of moving ice easily gouged out this loose material to form the trough of the Great Glen.

Nearer Inverness, streams flowing under the ice deposited this material to create eskers, in the form of Torvean and Tomnahurich, and ‘marine platforms’ where the deposited material met the sea.   Once the ice all melted after the Ice Age, the land slowly rose up due to the release of the ice’s weight (this ‘isostatic’ readjustment is still going on), so the marine platforms are now high and dry, and the steep edges of them form the slopes climbed by the likes of Godsman’s Brae and the Market Brae Steps.   Much of the finest material carried by water under the ice ended up in what is now the Beauly Firth, explaining why it is so shallow, silted up by all this deposition.

Sadly for an enthusiast like Sandy, man’s constant ‘development’ of Inverness’s site with ever more powerful earth-moving machinery means that the evidence of the work of these amazing natural forces thousands of years ago is becoming increasingly difficult to trace.   It is just as well that it is being recorded, mapped and photographed by the likes of Sandy, before it becomes further blurred by man’s activities.

Bob Main proposed a well deserved vote of thanks to Sandy, who answered many questions from a good-sized audience, while Alison Randall and Heather Macleod ably served tea, coffee and biscuits to all.

N.B.  Sandy’s talk was preceded by a brief AGM of the Wade Bridge of Whitebridge Trust, chaired by John Townshend.   John reported that essentially nothing had changed over the last year.  The bridge is stabilised and safe, but awaits further funding to complete its restoration.