Inverness Remembered

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Inverness Remembered

© 2020 Inverness Local History Forum Issue 71 January 2015 Issue 72 May 2015 Issue 73 August 2015 Issue 74 November 2015 Issue 75 February 2016 Issue 76 May 2016 Issue 77 August 2016 Issue 78 November 2016 Issue 79 February 2017 Issue 80 April 2017 Editor: Maureen Kenyon

‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 71 – January 2015 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report ‘A Prosperous New Year’ - to all our members and friends who supported the Forum in 2014 I would like to thank all of the committee as well, including those who gave up their time researching and writing the book ‘Farraline Park’. Book sales since the launch have secured the financial future of the Forum for a year or two. However, there are still copies available! I can say that 2015 started on a personal high for me when I stumbled across what I will call the ‘Abertarff Sundial’. I first noticed a large stone behind the hedge between Abertarff House and Hootanannys about a year ago. On 2nd January 2015, I managed to access the grounds and found to my surprise a stone sundial. There is a date ‘1729’ inscribed and this would lead us to presume it refers to th Alexander Fraser 6 of Fairfield. He was Provost of Inverness several times between 1723 and 1735. We are at the early stages of doing a wee bit of research and getting some expert advice but I hope that we can discover the story behind the sundial and perhaps get it displayed locally. Bill Anderson, Convenor

Calendar 2014/2015 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness)

Wed 4th Feb 2015

‘Every object tells a story: getting your hands on museum collections to tell the story of Inverness and its people’ Inverness Stained Glass

Cait McCullagh Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Wed 1st April

Ferries of the Beauly Firth and the Moray Firth

Dr Jim Mackay

Wed 6th May

Highland Buses

John Sinclair

Wed 3rd June

A Short AGM Meeting followed by – ‘The Oral History of Inverness’ – listen to local voices reminiscence about Inverness

Maureen Kenyon, Inverness Local History Forum

Wed 4th March

Walter McGinty

Farraline Park – More Than Just a Bus Station ‘Farraline Park – More Than Just a Bus Station’ was researched and written by a small group of Forum members and is an example of our ongoing commitment to uncover, share and record the interesting history of Inverness. Copies of the book (£9.99) are available for sale at Forum meetings in the Spectrum Centre, Waterstones Bookshop, Charlie’s Café, Hoods Newsagents in the Victorian Market or get in touch with the Forum at: or get in touch with any of the Committee Members.

Do You Live in the Westhill Area? We have had a request from the Westhill Community Council for assistance in producing a record of the history of the group. This would involve accessing their records, listing the office bearers and other matters of interest relating to the organisation. If you have a connection with the area and feel you could organise or assist with this project please telephone Dr Donald Boyd on 01463 796952.

Emigration Our treasurer, Irene Munro, has spent a lot of time researching members of her family who left the Highlands for Australia in the mid-1800s. She passed on some notes she had taken from a letter published in the Inverness Courier in 1854. The letter had been send to a Mr Macgregor, Kessock Ferry from Donald Mackenzie, a friend / work colleague who had left Inverness aboard ‘The Countess of Cawdor’, bound for Geelong, near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on 1st August 1853. Further research has indicated that many Highland people made this journey around the mid-1800s in search of a better life for themselves and their family. The Inverness Courier carried advertisements and articles on emigration to various parts of the world. The discovery of gold in Victoria meant the population of Melbourne and the surrounding towns grew swiftly. When the ‘gold fever’ first took hold in the mid-1800s the number of people living in Victoria was 75,000, ten years later the population was over 500,000. 2

Donald Mackenzie makes many references to men making a fortune working on the ‘diggings’, which refers to gold mining.

Canvas Village at the Diggings - near Melbourne 1850s

Of course, people could also earn a lot of money by supplying goods and services to the increasing population. Several local people took freight on board the Countess of Cawdor for that purpose. Some to sell on behalf of Invernessians keen to make a return via Donald Mackenzie’s and other

passengers expertise. When the ship left the Muirtown Basin she had berths for 60 passengers, the total number of people aboard, including the captain, his crew and a ship surgeon was 76. Unusually for this era, no one died during the voyage but one baby was born. His sister and many folk he knew, including quite a few from the Black Isle area where he lived, accompanied Donald MacKenzie on the long voyage. I believe Donald had been involved in running / working on the Kessock Ferry and he appears to have taken on the role of agent for the passengers. In charge of The Countess of Cawdor was Captain Paterson from Craigton on the Black Isle. What makes Donald’s letter so interesting is his detailed description of Geelong and Melbourne and his references to local people, his fellow passengers and others he met up with after he arrived. Many folk from the Inverness area had travelled out to Australia on earlier ships. “I must now try to say something which may give you some idea of this place, and you may rely on it that I do not write one word but what I know to be true. This is for certain a wonderful place indeed. Instead of our finding Geelong a small insignificant village, it is a large growing, flourishing town, situated at the bottom of a very fine bay; but there is a bar over which vessels of only nine feet of water can pass at times. But inside is deep water, and good anchorage. They are busy dredging the bar, and large ships can then come close in to the town. There are great numbers of lighters and small craft employed landing from the large ships and that trade pays well. Men get Geelong Harbour 1857 £10 to £12 a month, and they don’t work half so hard as the Kessock men; besides that, they are all fed on board, same as if they were at sea. We also expected to find Melbourne a low, dirty town, the greater part tents, but I assure you they, (the people in Melbourne) do not still follow the command of Johanab, the son of Rehab, for they drink wine, and do not live in tents. Melbourne is a large, flourishing, busy, thronging city. There are a great many churches and other buildings; and the number of large stores and warehouses is incredible; in fact, there is no town in the world of its extent as busy or thronging as Melbourne. Hobson’s Bay presents a scene you would see the like of nowhere else. What would you think of five to six hundred sail of the largest ships in the world in the Bay and five to six hundred smaller ones in the river beside the 3

lighters……... There is not a ship belonging to Inverness would make a lighter here, and some of the finest crafts ever you saw are employed in that trade and are paid well. Robert Wright the carpenter is here and he has made a fortune fast. His greatest enemies in Inverness were his best friends – at least they were the means of forcing him on to his own good. I saw a lad of the name of Paterson today who served his time with John Cook and left Inverness by some guano vessel. He has been very fortunate. I am also told that John Johnstone’s son from Charlestown has been very lucky at the diggings too. Inverness Courier 1854 Sadly, below is a report of the last voyage of The Countess of Cawdor as reported in the Inverness Courier, January 1860: Loss of an Inverness Crew – ‘We regret to learn that the fine brig ‘Countess of Cawdor’, commanded by Captain John Paterson of Craigton, near Inverness, has been wrecked about the Fern (Farne) Islands, and the crew, five or six of whom belonged to Inverness, are supposed to have perished ……… sailing from Burntisland to Sunderland with a cargo of pig iron. She had encountered very severe weather, and on the morning of Saturday 24th (Dec 1859) was driven ashore on the rocks at Newton. Nothing has been seen or heard of the crew, but it is supposed that the vessel had sprung a leak when it struck, and that the poor fellows had taken to their boats in a great hurry as almost all their clothes were left behind and that the boat had been upset in the gale ………… Captain Paterson leaves a widow and three children. The mate and cook were also married.’ Inverness Courier 1860 Maureen Kenyon

SUPPLE SANDY The Grave of Sandy Grant - early Inverness Town Police officer (Chapel Yard) This photograph shows the gravestone of one of Inverness's earliest law-enforcement officers in the Chapel Yard. Alexander “Supple Sandy” Grant was a larger-than-life and well-respected character in Inverness. Born at Inverallan, near Grantown-on-Spey, Strathspey, he joined the Invernessshire Militia as a young man, probably based at Inverness. When he completed his military service, the Town Council of Inverness took him on as a Burgh Officer. Possibly this was the first such appointment of an effective officer rather than a purely ceremonial appointment. He went on to be the Principal Burgh Officer for no less than 40 years. Dave Conner

The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the: Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Telephone – 07843113414 (if no reply - please leave a message and we will return your call) Email – NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Maureen Kenyon


‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 72 – May 2015 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report Hello from your Convener and welcome to another edition of ILHF newsletter Once again, thanks to tireless work by the Committee we are able to give you some great insights into the history of our City and its Surrounding Area. Now that Winter is over I hope you will all endeavour to get out into your own areas and start to discover what history lies within, sometimes the obvious is right on your doorstep but hasn't yet been discovered. I myself came across two headstones built into a brick wall the other day, this discovery has thrown me a new challenge, finding out why they are there and what used to be there previously. I would like to encourage members of the Forum to get out into the city and see the historic artefacts and wonderful architecture that our city has available for nothing. Why not even take the bold step and join up with others on the weekly walks that ICARUS do every Friday afternoon. Details of Icarus are on the Facebook page for ‘Inverness the City and Surrounding Area Past, Present and the Future’. I would also like to remind everyone about the two pages set up by Dave Conner on Facebook – ‘Inverness Local History Forum’ and ‘ILHF Churches’. There are some fascinating posts on the two pages, well worth having a look.

AGM NOTICE – the Annual General Meeting of Inverness Local History Forum is on Wednesday 3rd June at 2pm. It will be a short meeting immediately before the presentation. I hope many members will be present to support the Committee. I hope you all have a wonderful Spring and Summer and thanks for being part of ILHF. Looking forward to the programme still to come your way through the fantastic speakers brought to you each month by the Committee. Bill your Convener Calendar 2015/2016 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness) Wed 6th May

Highland Buses

John Sinclair

Wed 3rd June

AGM followed by – ‘The Oral History of Inverness’ – listen to local voices reminiscence …

Maureen Kenyon, Inverness Local History Forum

July / August

Summer Break – No Meetings

Wed 2 Sept

'The Rose Street Foundry - Part of the Very Fabric of the Town'


Eileen MacAskill, Local Historian and Author

Notice Board Membership Subscriptions Are now due - ÂŁ10 per single membership and ÂŁ18 for a joint membership. To save time please put your cash or cheque (made payable to ILHF) in an envelope with your name and address on the front. Leave it with the Membership Secretary when you are signing in. You can pick up a receipt at the next meeting.

Old High Church, Inverness Willie and Jennifer Morrison have asked me to include this request: The Old High Church is seeking volunteers with a keen sense of local history to help the congregation members keep the church open to interested summer visitors on weekdays by spending a couple of hours a week between April and September, showing them around the fine old building and explaining its long history and its significance to the city. Anyone who would like to help should contact Jennifer Morrison on or 01463 792076.

The Farraline Park Book It is unlikely that we will be reprinting any more copies of the Farraline Park Book. If you would like to buy one of the few remaining copies please get in touch. However, the initial print runs did sell very well and we have used part of the profits to buy a portable projector. This will enable us to continue showing our various presentations, using local photographs, film clips and snippets from our oral history recordings to community groups, clubs and


other small groups of people, especially those who are not able to join us at our monthly talks. We would like to thank Phyllis Pieraccini for her kind donation of a portable screen to add to this project.

The Old Academy Building It was with much sadness we heard about the fire in Academy Street that has caused so much damage to the Old Inverness Academy building, thankfully without injury to anyone. The Forum will be active in making sure that the Council consider all options to ensure complete restoration of the building. The building is one of the oldest in Academy Street and the photographs below are from our Farraline Book. We included a small section of the interesting history of the Academy. It first opened to students in 1792 and was in use as a school until 1895 when the pupils moved to a new purpose built building on Midmills Road.

Forty Pockets, an Inverness Character? If there is one subject likely to encourage a lively debate among Invernessians – it is any discussion about Local Worthies or Characters. Sheila S Mackay OBE, who founded the Inverness Local History Forum, was always particularly interested in the numerous Characters, Worthies and other well-known local folk who made their mark on the Social History of Inverness. Throughout the hours of oral history recordings made by Sheila and her colleagues during the 1990s, her favourite prompt to interviewees was, ‘And do you remember any local characters or interesting people from your childhood?’ This resulted in a wealth of interesting stories and anecdotes on a variety of local people including, Cappie Eppie, who smoked a pipe and played the melodeon beside the Greig St Bridge, Alec (Alecky, Elecky) Duff, local actors Donald Dallas and Tom Snowie , the Maggot Poet and Forty Pockets to name only a few, the list is very long. (Right - Forty Pockets, photographed in Inverness beside what was Castle Tolmie on the riverside – probably taken during the 1930s and the image used to create the Crown Road Mural below) Forty Pockets is probably one of the best-known local characters from the 20th Century, his image, portrayed on the mural on the wall of Crown Road, opposite the Eastgate Carpark confirms his popularity. However recently I noticed that the artwork on the wall has started to deteriorate and this has spurred me on to pull together the information I have collected on Forty Pockets before he disappears into obscurity once again. Along with many other local people, I have always wondered who this chap really was, where he had come from and indeed, where he eventually ended up. A chance conversation recently confirmed some vague information I had come across, a woman in Nairn remembered a tramp in the Elgin area also referred to as Forty Pockets. I am now certain that he is the same man who spent a lot of time in Inverness and wandered all over Moray and the Highlands. What follows is a snapshot of his life, just some of the interesting information and stories I have uncovered about him. Harry Johnston was born in Spalding, Lincolnshire around the early 1860s. His parents were William and Emily, his father was a carpenter. Various references mention that Harry was an employee on the Railways. For some reason he chose a nomadic lifestyle, tramping the lines between Penzance and Thurso and commonly referred to in the early days, as the ‘Railway Tramp’. 3

Some people in Inverness believed that Harry had met his death on the railway track. Possibly, this story came about because he was involved in an accident in 1927 when an engine knocked him down on the line near Forres. The train pulled up, lifted the injured man aboard and took him to Forres. Admitted to the Leanchoil Hospital suffering from a compound fracture of the left arm and right leg, several broken ribs and internal injuries, his condition was critical. However, he did survive the accident and continued to roam around the Highlands. Interestingly a report of Harry’s accident also appeared in the ‘Hull Daily Mail’, proving he must have kept some links with his birth area. In 1929, he made the newspapers again when, after an appearance in the Elgin Sheriff Court, he received a sentence of 21 days in prison for frightening local children with an open knife. Harry, who pleaded guilty, asked if he could go to the Poorhouse. ‘I don’t want no jail,’ he said. In his defence he retorted that the children had been throwing stones at him and he was merely frightening them off. Unfortunately, there is closure on court records for 100 years so I have not discovered if his plea carried any weight with the judge in Elgin. An article in the P&J on 2nd March 1942 carried this headline and image but in common with several other newspaper obituaries, referred to him primarily as Forty Pockets. This finally confirmed my suspicions that he was indeed the same ‘Forty Pockets’, well known in Inverness during the 1920s and 1930s. Perhaps it was not until his later years that he took to wearing several coats and jackets at one time. The newspaper reported that after taking ill in Forres Harry went to ‘Craigmoray’ in Elgin. He died there the following week on 26 th February 1942. Craigmoray, the former Elgin Poorhouse, was somewhere he was familiar with having spent some time there on various occasions over the years. His popularity and affection in the Inverness and Morayshire area comes through the articles written after his death in 1942. Referring to the many years Harry spent wandering the railway tracks one reporter said his accident in 1927 had made him ‘take to the roads instead as a safer option’. He did continue tramping the roads right up until the day he took ill in 1942. Reports of his death also appeared in the Sunday Post and Dundee Courier. Harry aka ‘Forty Pockets’ aka ‘The Railway Tramp’, is only one of the local characters I hope to research in an attempt to reveal the story of each person and their place in the Inverness of their time. There is no doubt that some have a more accessible history than others will. However, all have left a mark on the Social History of Inverness and the memories of several generations of Invernessians. So if you have any more information on Harry or any of the dozens of ‘Local Worthies and Characters and Interesting People’ from your childhood, or any stories you have heard from other people, please let me know - or 01463 223457. Article Submitted by - Maureen T Kenyon 4

Sir Alexander Matheson

Sir Alexander Matheson Esq of Ardross & Lochalsh (1805 – 1866) became a partner in the firm Jardine & Matheson with his uncle Sir James Matheson, trading in silk, tea, opium etc. in the Far East. Having amassed a vast fortune he returned to Scotland, purchasing and improving Highland estates. He bought the Ardross Estate from the Duke of Sutherland in 1845 and built Ardross Castle. He also purchased the Balmacara estate where he built Duncraig Castle in Plockton, which was his home. He served as a magistrate, an MP for Inverness Burgh, and by 1862 was the Chairman of The Northern Railway. Alexander Ross, the Inverness architect, designed Matheson’s properties in Ross & Cromarty; he was also a factor for his estates. Ross also designed properties belonging to Alexander Matheson on Ardross Street and Ardross Terrace, Inverness. This included at the corner of Glenurquhart Road and Ardross Street, the older part of Highland Council’s HQs, which had originally been a private school. Founded in 1873 by the ‘Northern Counties Collegiate School Company Ltd’ to provide the highest education for the ‘sons of gentlemen’ residing in the North and others with a view to preparing them for the Military, University and Civil Service Examinations. The building was finished by 1876.

From 25 July 1874 to May 1876, numbers 3, and 4, Ardross Terrace, primarily built as dwellings, were in use as a school and boarding house for the boys until completion of the new establishment. They were then restored to their original purpose and from around 1880 number 3 remained a boarding house run by a Mrs Fraser while next door became the home of Dr J Munro Moir, Physician & Surgeon (1899). This is now the Strathness Guest House (formerly the Tower Hotel). 5

During WW1 part of the Collegiate building was used by the Admiralty as naval barracks for ratings passing through Inverness. The County Council purchased and converted the building into a hostel for girls attending the Academy and called it the ‘Inverness Royal Academy War Memorial Hostel. It opened in 1921 and in 1934, the County Council bought 'Hedgefield' on Culduthel Road, Inverness for a new girls' hostel known as the ‘War Memorial Hostel’. This allowed the Council to take over the building on Ardross Street as their administrative headquarters. Previously, 'Hedgefield' had been the boys' hostel. Their new hostel became Drummond Park, Drummond Road, Inverness. Article Submitted by

- Anne C MacKintosh

Witches - an Inverness Connection It is unlikely that anyone reading this will claim to have seen a ghost, a fairy or a witch but some will have memories of a parent or a grandparent who, at least claimed, to have had knowledge of someone who had seen a ghost or known of a witch. There are many stories, but there are a few documented events that tell us about things that happened during our grandparents' and great grandparents' generations and were, indeed, the source of many a conversation (sometimes scary) by the fireside. Highland witches were generally regarded in Scotland as being more gentle-natured than their southern counterparts. Many of them were never accused of anything more than having the ‘evil eye’ which enabled them to make hens stop laying or cows barren and yield no milk - incidents of such nature which were, more often than not, associated with the croft. People blamed the ‘evil eye’ for many happenings, very often because no other reason came to mind. There were no stories told of Highland witches with powers to raise the dead or of dancing with the devil and no tales handed down of seeing one on a broomstick. I know of one person who, as a child, believed he knew a witch but, as he grew up, he reluctantly came to accept that she was just an ugly old woman with all the physical attributes that were associated with witches. She always looked unkempt, dressed in long grey or black clothes, which rarely looked clean. Her face was weather-beaten and stained by smoke from the peat fire, and the facial feature that confirmed she was a witch in his mind was the large hooked nose and her few remaining teeth, stained from years of chewing tobacco. People claimed that she slept on a hay-stuffed mattress, inside a double wardrobe that lay on its back, on the floor, with the doors pulled closed over her before she went to sleep. 6

We know the story of the Brahan Seer well enough and have read how he was put to death at Chanonry Point in a burning barrel of tar sometime between 1665 and 1675 although, according to some versions, it was about a century earlier. Chanonry Point was a well-used place for gruesome executions and a number of witches burned at the stake there.

Legend has it that the last known witch in Inverness was put to death in an area known then as Aultmournac, between Raigmore and the Cameron Barracks. That is a sizeable area and it would seem that a more precise location might be a point on the Golf Course, on the opposite side of the Diriebught Burn from Kingsmills Gardens. The name Aultmournac could, conceivably, mean 'the stream or burn of the cheerful or beloved woman' and would have been called that before the burning of the witch. Even if the name came about after her death we have to accept, I suppose, that she could have been a cheerful person and that someone may even have loved her. She was known, apparently, as Creibh Mhor but what is not so apparent is what that first name meant. The 'mhor' part means 'big' of course but unless 'Creibh' was a nickname, or a long-forgotten Inverness Gaelic name, who knows? According to the story, Creibh Mhor had a sister but we do not know her name or if she was younger or older. Described simply as 'two old sisters' who lived in the area they came under suspicion when it was found that they indulged in a practice which, nowadays, we would describe as sticking pins in voodoo dolls to cause harm to the person represented by the doll. Apparently, the two old sisters made figures out of clay, stuck pins in them and wished whatever harm they desired to befall the person represented by the clay figure. In this case, the figures represented a local gentleman of note and of some authority – Cuthbert of Castle Hill. The whole thing came to light when children playing in the burn, found the clay figures and one of them told the others that her granny made figures like that. The granny turned out to be none other than Creibh Mhor! From there, of course, the story grew arms and legs and found its way to the authorities who vigorously applied the arraignment methods of the day. They imprisoned the two old sisters, tortured them and, as was the practice in dealing with witches, burned them at the stake. As the two sisters felt the heat of the flames that rapidly enveloped them, they roundly cursed their persecutors but whether or not their curses took effect may or may not be the subject of other stories. The ‘sticking of pins’ was not just limited to putting curses on people, it was also a method of determining whether or not the accused person was a witch, and there were ‘professionals’ appointed to this task. The method was to insert a long brass pin into the flesh of the accused and when the ritual of so 7

doing was complete, the accused had to find the pin and withdraw it. Failure to do so confirmed the suspicion of guilt, especially if no blood was drawn. The people appointed to carry out these tests were known as ‘Prickers’ and it is thought that the practice came to England, Scotland and Ireland from Europe. They carried out their task using needles of varying lengths and thickness that were available from the purveyors of such equipment in ornate packs of three usually. If you care to look, you will find that Amazon stocks a book on the subject of witch hunters and professional prickers - however, needle sets are not available…… There were several Witchcraft Acts of Parliament in the 17th and 18th centuries, the earlier ones detailing how to prosecute practitioners of witchcraft. However, an act passed in 1736 repealed all those that went before, making it unlawful to execute anyone for alleged witchcraft.

The last person charged with witchcraft in Scotland was in Dornoch, just a few years before that, in 1727. (Left - Stone to mark the spot of Janet Horne in Dornoch)

Who knows how long it took for people to accept that witchcraft had become nothing more than a part of our rich heritage of story-telling and, whilst records show that people who were alleged to have practised it and dealt with it did exist, will we ever know whether any of the spells and curses worked? Do remember, however, not to throw a nutshell in the river as you walk by in case a witch comes along and uses it as a boat. Article Submitted by - Sheila MacDonald

Articles for the Newsletter You will have noticed that we have produced a double-sized newsletter this quarter. This is because of the excellent selection of articles submitted by our Forum members. If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. Maureen Kenyon, Newsletter Editor

The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the: Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Telephone – 07843113414 (if no reply - please leave a message) Email – NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Maureen Kenyon


‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 73 – August 2015 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report Welcome back, I hope you all had a good break and I trust the rain did not spoil your summer too much. Well on with part two of our 2015 programme. The Forum Committee are always on the lookout for something new for our members and guests to enjoy. If you know of anyone who would be willing to come along and do a presentation on any theme relating to the history of the Inverness area, please let us know. Alternatively, if there is a particular subject or theme you would like to hear more about, please get in touch and we will try our best to arrange a talk. As we enter our 24th year, I am pleased to say that we have a full Committee in place and I will continue as your Convenor. The Committee and I work tirelessly to keep the Inverness Local History Forum going for all to enjoy. The WW1 exhibition in the Farraline Park Library and the Farraline Park Book launch were our two big events last year. The Forum has purchased a projector and committee member Phyllis Pieraccini donated a portable screen so that we can continue taking Forum presentations out into the community for others to enjoy. As we move into the autumn, we can look ahead to the ‘Forum Christmas Afternoon Tea’ on Wednesday 2nd December in the ‘Wallace Room’ of the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square Inverness. We need to know how many will be going as the hotel requires numbers well in advance, the cost for this will be £7.50p per person. Further details will be available at our Forum presentation on Wednesday 2nd September and tickets on sale at the October meeting. Hoping everyone is well and that you enjoy the rest of our 2015 programme. Calendar 2015/2016 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness) Wed 2nd Sept

'The Rose Street Foundry - Part of the Very Fabric of the Town'

Eileen MacAskill, Local Historian and Author

Wed 7th Oct

Mental Health in the Highlands

Colin Waller, Archivist, Highland Archives, Inverness

Wed 4th Nov

‘It's A Bobby's Job’- which will be a look at law enforcement over the years in the Inverness area.

Dave Conner – Police Historian

Wed 2nd Dec

Christmas Tea at the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square NOTE No Meeting - at the Spectrum Centre in December

Afternoon talk and entertainment during the Tea (details to follow)

Notice Board Membership Subscriptions - Are now due - £10 per single membership and £18 for a joint membership - To save time please put your cash or cheque (made payable to ILHF) in an envelope with your name and address on the front. Leave it with the Membership Secretary when you are signing in. You can pick up a receipt at the next meeting.

Thursday 10 September, 4pm – 6pm ‘Scotland's Urban Past in Inverness’ Are you curious about the urban past of Inverness? This is your chance to find out more about the city’s history and getting involved with Scotland's Urban Past This is a FREE EVENT to find out more and to book your place visit:

Date for your Diary Christmas Tea is on Wednesday 2 nd December This year to be held in the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square – tickets are £7.50 and include your afternoon tea, the usual raffle and entertainment.

Thursday 17 September, 1pm – 2pm, ‘Highland Heroes: The family histories behind the objects (of 1st World War)’ Lunchtime Lecture by Anne Fraser from the Highland Archive Centre, in the Room to Discover – cost is £3.00 and booking via IMAG.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) Events 2015 Thursday 27th August 1-2pm in the Room to Discover, Inverness Museum - Professor James Hunter speaks on ‘Indelible Characters on the Surface of the Soil: Relics and remnants of Highland Clearance times’ Cost is £3.00. Booking is essential, in person at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, call 01463 237114 or email Doors Open Day at IMAG: 5th September 2015 ‘Hands on Treasures from Beyond the Frontier’ - Behind the Scenes at IMAG – this is a FREE EVENT - but booking essential via IMAG

Saturday 26 September, 11am – 3.15pm ‘Raigmore Cairn Discovery Day’, (take a packed lunch). Starting at IMAG and visiting the Raigmore Cairn - Come and discover the story behind the Raigmore cairn. FREE EVENT in partnership with the Highland Rangers but Booking essential via IMAG Friday 9th October, 11am – 4pm, ‘Art in OUR Hands: Treasures from beyond the Frontier’, at the Inverness Museum Celebrating the opening of our ‘Art in OUR Hands: Treasures from beyond the Frontier’ exhibition this one-day conference will explore our growing understanding of the impact of the Roman Empire, beyond the Frontier, into the Inner Moray Firth. Cost is £7.00 / Concession for Art Fund Members. Booking via IMAG

Note: if you want to receive IMAGs e-newsletter via your own email every 8 weeks please get in touch with them the web address is:

Dr Alexander Macbain - Rector of Raining’s School Alexander Macbain was born on 22 July 1855, in Glenfeshie, Badenoch. Reportedly beset by hardships and difficulties, he persevered to attain professional distinction. His early schooling took place in the parish school of Insh. Under the influence of a teacher called Mr Mackenzie, from the Isle of Lewis the young Alexander initially headed towards a career in surveying with the 2

ultimate intention of becoming an engineer. However, on leaving school at the age of 15 in 1870, Macbain taught briefly at Duthil School. On leaving his post at Duthil he travelled extensively for two years in the North of England and Wales in the employment of the National Survey Department. As promotion within this occupation proved slow, he returned home to his roots in Badenoch. Determined to pursue his studies with the ultimate aim of gaining a university degree and aided by a bursary, he entered the Grammar School of Old Aberdeen. After spending two years at the Grammar School, he entered King’s College, Aberdeen. Distinguishing himself in classics and English, he finally took his degree with Honours in Philosophy in 1880. After leaving university, Macbean became an assistant to the Headmaster of the Grammar School but accepted the offer of the post of Headmaster of Raining’s School in Inverness a short time afterwards. Raining’s School was established primarily for the preparation of young Highland lads for their entry into university. When Alexander Macbain took over his position at the school in 1880, the average attendance was 242 with passes of 65%. In 1892 after 12 years in this position, the average attendance was 550 (not including pupils over 18) and passes were 98% - 99%. Over 100 pupils had gone directly to university over the 13 years of the existence of Raining’s School. Macbain remained the rector until 1894 and was described as a ‘kind and genial man and one of the most quietly effective educationalists of his day’. Dr Alexander Macbain was deeply interested in Celtic culture and made a special study of Celtic fables. He wrote several books on the subject among them being, ‘Celtic Mythology and Religion’, ‘Personal Names and Surnames of Inverness’, and ‘The Dictionary of Gaelic Etymology’. The Inverness Gaelic Society honoured him for his work by making him an Honorary Chieftain of the Society. Article Submitted by – Irene Munro

The ‘Fairfield’ Sundial Members will recall that Bill Anderson first noticed a large stone behind the hedge between Abertarff House and the Hootananny Pub in Church Street, Inverness last year. On 2nd January 2015, he managed to access the grounds and found this stone sundial. The date ‘1729’ is inscribed and this leads us to presume it refers to Alexander Fraser 6th of Fairfield, a one-time Provost of Inverness. The story behind this local artefact now continues with an article researched by Anne MacKintosh. A Scottish Multiple Dial – because the sun rises and sets in the northern sky during the summer they had two dials, one being north facing to make best use of the sun during this time. These dials have usually outlasted the original houses of the aristocracy who commissioned them and sadly, this is the case with the above. Dials with two or more faces were projected on corbels and 3

displayed on the wall of the house. They could also have been free standing on a stone pedestal. This one is engraved with the name ALEX FRASER OF FAIRFIELD and on top inscribed above the initials is the date 1729. I believe it was to commemorate Alexander succeeding to the title (6 th of Fairfield) in 1729, his father David having died in 1728. He may have commissioned the sundial to exhibit at his house or perhaps had it set upon a pillar in the grounds of the old House of Fairfield. According to Edward Meldrum (1982), this sundial had been in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland at Culloden Battlefield. This would have been because Alexander 6th took an active part in the Rising of 1745, referred to as ‘Major Fraser of Fairfield’ in the book of accounts. The sundial then found its way to the garden of Abertarff House (NT for Scotland) originally the town house of Colonel Archibald Fraser of Beaufort and Abertarff, (son of Lord Lovat of the '45 rebellion) – another connection with Culloden and the Frasers. It is possible that they removed the stone from Culloden during restoration work. Apparently, it was on display in the garden of Abertarff but latterly it has lain unseen and forgotten. It is a relic of a once prestigious family and a remnant of an imposing house, which at one time had stood on the West side of the Water of Ness. The old House of Fairfield lay behind the former West Church on Huntly Street. (Image from Am Bailie - circa 1870s) The Gaelic Society established in 1871, was responsible for the preservation of Culloden Battlefield before the National Trust for Scotland. Were they the guardians of this relic previously? In my opinion, if we are to prevent any further weathering and deterioration of this stone, we need to find a way to preserve the sundial. If the NT were willing to part with it, my choice would be the Highland Archive Centre foyer, on public view along with details of the Fraser Family. Anne C. MacKintosh Please note – this is just a small piece of the research Anne MacKintosh has completed on the origins of the sundial and the interesting history of the Fraser Family referred to on the stone. We are in the process of producing a small booklet on this detailed research and it will be available from the Forum in the near future at a nominal charge to cover the printing costs.

Articles for the Newsletter If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the: Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Telephone – 07843113414 (if no reply - please leave a message) Email –



‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 74 – November 2015 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report We are now back into the swing of things with our monthly presentations, and the Committee have been as ever working hard behind the scenes to bring you a full calendar for the 2015/16 session. Interesting times ahead! On a more personal note, I had great pleasure in organising a visit for Kinmylies Primary School to one of Inverness’s forgotten gems, Craig Phadrig Pictish Fort, where a great day of learning was had by all, great to see these 48 youngsters learning a bit about our local history. I have been in touch with the NHS Highland to try and find out what their plans are for the restoration of the stonework on the Tweedmouth Memorial Chapel at the old Royal Northern Infirmary. I also brought up the subject of the missing boards that listed the names of those who donated to the building of the hospital. These boards used to hang within the Royal Northern Infirmary and are an important part of Inverness’s history, hoping these are not lost. With the Christmas tea getting ever closer I would like to take this opportunity of reminding everyone that the tickets are on sale at £7.50 each. The tea this year will be held in the Royal Highland Hotel. If you haven’t got your ticket yet please get in touch with one of the Committee members or buy one at the November presentation. Many thanks to all for supporting the ILHF and looking forward to your continuing support in the future. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Bill Anderson

Calendar 2015/2016 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness) Wed 4th Nov

‘It's A Bobby's Job’- which will be a look at law enforcement over the years in the Inverness area.

Dave Conner – Police Historian

Wed 2nd Dec

Christmas Tea at the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square NOTE No Meeting - at the Spectrum Centre in December

Wed 3rd Feb

Restoration work at the Town House, an update of the ongoing work on the building.

Afternoon talk and entertainment during the Tea (details to follow) Jason Kelman Architects Office

Wed 2nd Mar


Edith Louisa Cavell was born in 1865, the eldest of four children to the Reverend Frederick and Louisa Sophia Cavell. She was a British nurse and in 1907 became matron in a newly established nursing school in Belgium. This was taken over by the Red Cross in WW1. With the help of Prince and Princess De Croy, Belgian aristocrats who had masterminded an underground railroad from a chateau in Mons, English and French soldiers managed to escape to neutral Holland. German authorities had heard rumours and began to observe her more closely and she was eventually charged with assisting Allied prisoners to escape. After a long interrogation she was tricked into giving a confession. This together with a tattered postcard sent from the UK by a soldier thanking her for her help, led to her being sentenced to death . On the morning of 12th October, 1915 Edith was executed by a German firing squad, on the Belgian National Rifle Course. She was immediately buried inside the grounds of the rifle range by soldiers who then placed a plain wooden cross over her grave. After the war her body was exhumed, and taken back to Britain. There was a memorial service at Westminster Abbey led by King George V, before her body was taken by special train to Norwich near to the town of her birth, and buried on the 19th May 1919 on Life’s Green, located at the east end of Norwich Cathedral. To remember the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War the Royal Mint chose to honour Nurse Edith Cavell on a new £5 coin which was released in May of this year (2015). It is one of a set of six coins forming part of their five year programme of commendation from outbreak to armistice. Memorials were created around the world to remember Nurse Cavell and Inverness named the gardens in which the War Memorial stands near the river as Cavell Gardens. To mark the 100th anniversary of her death a new memorial stone has been unveiled here.

Anne C Mackintosh


Captain Killed during cave disaster Captain Allan George Cameron was buried alive along with 28 members of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in the so called “cave disaster” near Bourg et Comin on 25 th September 1914. The battalion was already reeling from an estimated 600 casualties during the battle of Aisne earlier in the month when a shell hit its frontline headquarters in a cave. Captain Cameron – son of Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 24th Chief of Clan Cameron – had only just arrived to assume role of temporary commanding officer from Captain Douglas Miers who had been wounded. Captain Cameron left a widow, Hester and his first born child. This is an extract of one of the last letters written by Captain Allan George Cameron “Monday 14th Sept 1914

My Darling Hester

No sooner had I stuck up my letter to you on Friday 11 th than I received a message that 500 German infantry had been seen marching within six miles of us by an ASC Sgt. on a motor lorry. I was told to take all the men I could on 4 motor lorries to round them up, also a squadron of Irish Horse was also ordered out. I hurriedly got together about 50 of our men and 30 stragglers and we went off. It was already getting dark so it looked like having to billet in a village and go out ready to round them up before dawn and on the way I had a chance to question the Sgt. and I came to the suspicion that we were on a wild goose chase, for he said they were closed up, not straggling, and he had seen some bayonets among them. I knew troops would not march with fixed bayonets, so I suspected they were already prisoners, also I did not think that tired infantry, cut off from their own force would be marching close up. When we reached the neighbouring village my suspicions were confirmed for they told us that only one hour earlier, 300 to 400 German prisoners had been marched through. We followed them up and found they were the very ones we were out after so all our trouble was for nothing, and got back late at night. Next morning we started at a late hour (after sending off a lot of British prisoners and stragglers to the B………) on a 3 days march to our next stopping place where we expected to be relieved by another Regt. on this rotten job. We did 12 miles and billeted in a village already turned into a pigsty by “Les Bosches” as the French term of contempt for the Germans is. We had a few sore feet after our prolonged and enforced sedentary habits, most of the weaklings were among stragglers and prisoners of other Regts. we were taking up to the front (i.e. the fully equipped ones).Yesterday we did 18 miles to another village also messed up by Bosches. This finished up several more men. One Cpl. Of M…… Regiment fell down on the march and fainted. I wish they all stuck to it as pluckily as he did. We heard heavy firing guns all day and yesterday from north and west, and the news is always good, though the losses must be considerable. I hear the Germans are losing very heavily. Our lorry driver again drove his lorry into the ditch and, v. badly this time, so this morning we had to leave him and our supplies and march on. I left a good Cpl. and some men with instructions how to build a foundation in the ditch and jack up the lorry gradually and he got it out by 2pm and came on. The specially enlisted lorry driver at 6/- a day was not much good. I have not seen even a French newspaper for some days so know very little of what is going on except in our own district. Must stop now to go to bed. I believe the post goes tomorrow morning early. Love to Mother and Angus. Your Loving Allan “ Irene Munro


Notice Board The Highland Archive Centre Inverness WW1 Photographic Exhibition- All through November Inverness Local History Forum photo collection will be on display in the front foyer of the Archive Centre Bught Road Inverness. Thursday 12 November, 10.30am at Hugh Miller Birthplace Cottage & Museum, Church Street, Cromarty. “The Life and Times of Lieutenant Malcolm Blane – Cameron Highlander of the First World War”. Further details from 01381 600 245 – Tickets cost £3 and include tea/coffee and cake. Thursday 12 November, 7.00pm the launch of Professor Jim Hunter’s book “Set Adrift Upon the World”. The story of thousands of Sutherland people evicted from their homes to make way for sheep farming and their journeys to their new homes in North America. Saturday 14 November 1.30-4.00pm - “Commemorating the 1715 Jacobite Uprising”. For further information about these events and to book a place contact the Archive Centre Tel. 01463 256444 or email

Christmas Tea is on Wednesday 2nd December - tickets now on sale This year to be held in the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square, Inverness. Tickets are £7.50 and include your afternoon tea, the usual raffle and entertainment.

Membership Subscriptions - Are now due - £10 per single membership and £18 for a joint membership - To save time please put your cash or cheque (made payable to ILHF) in an envelope with your name and address on the front. Leave it with the Membership Secretary when you are signing in. You can pick up a receipt at the next meeting.

Articles for the Newsletter If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the: Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Email –



‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 76 – May 2016 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report I hope that milder weather will soon be with us though overall winter was kind to us in Inverness. Great to see the roof is now back on the Old Academy Building, Academy Street. I have been told the Tweedmouth Memorial Chapel restoration will be completed by summer 2016. The Royal Highland Hotel ‘Station Hotel’ agreed to have a plaque made and erected outside the hotel commemorating the hotels involvement during WW1. Anne Mackintosh (Forum Committee Member) is currently working on the wording as requested by the owners of the hotel. I asked the Scotrail Alliance if they would consider erecting a plaque in the Inverness Station commemorating the tearoom run for military personnel in the station during WW1 but I have not had any response so far. However, it is good to see the WW1 memorial plaques back in place at Hedgefield House and Tulloch plan to reinstate the memorial gardens in the near future. I was sad to see Robertson Builders getting permission to go ahead with the demolition of parts of the Old Craig Dunain Hospital including the Chapel between the two main towers. This area is to be a courtyard for use by the residents of the new apartments and flats. So far this year the Forum has had talks on The Town House, A History of the North Roads and The Medieval Stones of the North, all enjoyed and well attended. I hope everyone has a nice summer break and if you are heading off on holiday have an enjoyable time. I would like to thank our hard working committee members for their input over the last year and our members for their continuing support throughout the year.

AGM NOTICE – the Annual General Meeting of Inverness Local History Forum is on Wednesday 1st June at 2pm. It will be a short meeting immediately before the presentation so please come along and support (or join) the Committee. Bill Anderson, Convenor

Calendar 2016 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness) Wed 4th May Wed 1st June

Some Highland Scientists – (in Conjunction with the Inverness Science Festival) AGM – followed by a selection of Old Films of Inverness

Anne Fraser, Family Historian, Highland Archive Centre Allan Cameron, Inverness Local History Forum

Wed 7th Sept

First Meeting of the 2016 – 2017 session

Speaker to be confirmed at a later date….

Membership Subscriptions Are now due - £10 per single membership and £18 for a joint membership. To save time please put your cash or cheque (made payable to ILHF) in an envelope with your name and address on the front. Leave it with the Membership Secretary when you are signing in. You can pick up a receipt at the next meeting.

Please Note – Change of Contact Information for the Forum A couple of changes to Inverness Local History Forum contact details – our postal address will remain the same - but we no longer use our mobile telephone. We also have a new email address which should be used from this month onwards – Our Facebook online message service via our ‘page’ (below) will ensure a quick response from a Committee Member. Find us on Facebook, like our page and you will receive regular local history articles, photographs and information from us via your own Facebook account.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) NOTE - Summer Opening Hours, from now until the end of October the Museum and Art Gallery will be open Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm. Upcoming Exhibitions and events: EXHIBITIONS – Art Galleries Space Craft - 5th April – 13th May, Main & Small Art Galleries Scotstyle - 21st May – 16th June, Main Art Gallery Building Blocks - 21st May – 18th June, Main Art Gallery Hamish Young - 21st May – 18th June, Small Art Gallery FOYER SHOP Objects, Contemporary Craft Shop Foyer Gallery EXHIBITIONS – Museum Galleries Off Grid - 12th April – 21st May, Community Gallery Assembly: Memorial Chairs – 30th April – 5th May, Room to Discover, Pop-Up Exhibition Reflection on Celts - 24th May – 27th August, Archaeology Gallery Transitions: Celts Reflections - 24th May – 4th July, Community Gallery & Room to Discover GALLERY INTERVENTION Calum Colvin: Jacobites by Name - 5th April – 7th May, Jacobite Gallery


LECTURES The Patient Pathway - 4th May 1pm – 2pm, Room to Discover The Inverness Townscape Heritage Project - 11th May 1pm-2pm, Room to Discover Sea Cave Secrets - 18th May 1pm-2pm, Room to Discover Discovering the Northern Picts - 25th May 1pm -2pm, Room to Discover WORKSHOPS Discovering Next of Kin - every Wednesday in June 1st – 29th, Room to Discover (Further information on all IMAG events and to book lectures or workshops –Telephone (01463) 237114 - or for general enquiries you can E-mail ) *******

New Family History Classes (Highland Archives – the ‘You Time’ Programme – Chris Halliday, Family History Leader) Thursday 9th June (10am-11am) for four weeks - Cameron Youth Centre, Planefield Road, Inverness Family History Classes - Have you ever wanted to research your family’s history but were not sure where to begin. Now is your chance to start. Cost per session: £5.20, £2.60 (over 60s), (also 50p rate - please enquire when booking). To book contact Cameron Youth Centre, phone 01463 234785 or email Thursday 9th June (3.30pm-4.30pm) for four weeks - Raigmore Community Centre, Ashton Road, Inverness Family History Classes - Have you ever wanted to research your family’s history but were not sure where to begin. Now is your chance to start. Cost per session: £5.20, £2.60 (over 60s), (also 50p rate - please enquire when booking). To book contact Raigmore Community Centre, phone 01463 713756 or email *******

John Noble – Bookseller & Historian The following piece is an abridgement of an article compiled by Dave Conner which first appeared on the ILHF Facebook page last September. I will be publishing some of Dave’s online articles in our Newsletter as we are aware that many of our members do not use / have access to the internet. John Noble was an Invernessian, (A Clachnacudden Boy) born in 1833. He was a local bookseller, antiquarian collector and author. He died in 1897. At the age of ten John was living with his mother and little sister (aged 5) at 5 Gilbert Street, Inverness. His mother, Mrs Anne Noble originated from the Parish of Urquhart in Ross & Cromarty and according to the 1841 Census; she 3

was 30 years old and a widow. John would most likely have been attending the Central School which was one of the ‘Bell’s Schools’ and at that time situated in Queen Street (the school site now has modern housing on it). He often had to run the gauntlet of the local (Muirtown Street area) youths – the ‘Big Green’ boys as they were known. The story of such ‘gang fights’ is recounted by Noble in his self-printed book which was republished by John Whyte in 1902 as ‘Miscellanea Invernessiana’. By the time he was 18 (source -1851 census) the family was living in Grant Street (no mention of his sister) and John Noble was apprenticed to a bookseller in town. In June 1859 an advertisement in the Inverness Courier intimated that John Noble, having been 12 years in the employment of Mr Smith, bookseller, Inverness had opened a bookshop at 98 Castle Street, the premises previously occupied by Mr Donald Fraser, bookseller. John Noble married Veronica Mitchell of Ayr in 1867 in Edinburgh. The first Inverness Street Directory published in 1873 records John Noble as a Bookseller and Stationer with premises still at 98 Castle Street – and with his home at number 99. This address would have been sited where the Town House buildings on Castle Street are now. (The street numbering system was completely reorganised at a later date) Having acquired his own printing press for the production of stationery as well as books of local and Highland interest Noble gradually compiled a book of interesting snippets about the life and times of Inverness. John Noble was involved in many aspects of Inverness life and in numerous organisations. He had a particular passion for researching the history of all the many newspapers and periodicals produced in Inverness – and assembled a considerable, comprehensive, listing beginning at 1807, it was included as an appendix in ‘Miscellanea Invernessiana’. John Noble passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 9th February 1897, aged only 64. At the time of his death he was living in the house called ‘Ivy Bank’ in Old Edinburgh Road – opposite Reay House. His business was placed up for sale but seemed to find no immediate buyer, being advertised several times during 1897. However his collection of books and curios attracted far more interest, the first day’s sale of his curios in September that year raised the sum of £528. For a good many years he had done a considerable trade in old and rare volumes and curios and was looked upon locally as an authority. His obituary in The Edinburgh Evening News intimated that he was a wellknown bookseller. The Aberdeen Journal also recorded that Noble as a collector and dispenser of Gaelic works was unrivalled. The following April his book collection was catalogued, and by way of a belated obituary the Dundee Advertiser devoted several paragraphs to him stating that Mr John Noble was more than 4

a mere bookseller and had an extensive acquaintance with rare works and manuscripts which made him an invaluable guide to the specialist. His library of topographical, genealogical and historical books was such as no other Scottish bookseller possessed. The article went on to say that these acquisitions were rarely listed in his catalogues – it was necessary for folk to go to see him in his shop to find out what treasures he had uncovered – and if they were for sale. The enquirer had to visit Mr Noble, in his quaint, old-fashioned establishment in Inverness if he wished to know what that repository contained. The article said he was of that ‘race’ of booksellers from a past generation now scarcely to be found out of London and only the favoured few were admitted to the inner recesses of his shop or were privileged to obtain a private view of his manuscripts and rare books. An extract from the Preface of the book ‘Miscellanea Invernessiana’ reads: ‘A NATIVE of Inverness, resident in it during the greater part of his life, and for many years engaged in the business of a bookseller and antiquarian collector, few men enjoyed better opportunities for acquiring and utilising the fugitive lore of the town and district than the late Mr John Noble. It was his intention to devote what leisure moments he could command from time to time to the preparation and publication of selections from his vast accumulations of local history and reminiscence. His lamented and unexpected death a few years ago, however, prevented the realisation of his purpose, beyond putting into printed form the following 184 pages of Miscellanea.’ (Illustrations from - John Noble’s Miscellanea Invernessiana - circa 1902) Dave Conner

The Clootie Well Recently a small history group in the Hilton Community Centre was shown the short film clip from the 1940s of the Edgar family visiting the Clootie Well. The film is part of the archive donated by Forum Member, Susan Mutch. One of the ladies watching said she lived close by the area and remembers the crowds making their way down via the Blackpark Farm Road to the well. Her father used to go down in the late evening to watch the local police empty the coins to see how much had been donated to charity. By coincidence I came across this article last week: ‘Press and Journal - dated Monday 8th May 1933’ ‘The well has attracted an increasing number of pilgrims on the first Sunday of May in recent years, and although the weather yesterday was dull, with a mist hanging over the Culloden district the gathering must have come very near a record. The trek commenced early in the forenoon, and until late afternoon it required an almost continuous service of three bus companies to carry the crowds from Inverness. Young people were in the majority, and there were more men than women. A queue, which at times was more than 100 yards in length and four or 5

five deep, waited to drink of the waters. Some drank with happy laughter, but others were more serious and dropped their coins into the well and wished a wish as they sipped the water. Not one of the pilgrims fulfilled the legend in its entirety. The Superstition The superstition is that after drinking of the water the pilgrims have to tie a rag of their clothing worn nearest their bodies to a nearby tree. Although the pilgrims failed to carry out this part of the superstition entirely, rags were fixed to the trees and bushes surrounding the well. To many, perhaps the majority, the pilgrimage was just an outing. Many did not go near the well but spent the day rambling round the wooded paths in the district. When dusk fell the money, amounting to £30 – 1s was taken from the well for distribution among local charities.’ Maureen Kenyon (This image is from a 1920s postcard)

A Few More Words / Memories of the Clootie Well 

A few feet behind the stone enclosure of the spring are the remains of a ‘pool’. It was possible a few years ago to see a pipe which led from the spring to the pool giving the impression it was used for bathing, perhaps ailments – a ‘healing pool’, as the water is full of iron. Nearby Chapelton Farm, Balloch is the only evidence to the Chapel of St Mary that stood in this neighbourhood.

Firstly, they cleaned the well out and then put a net over it with a cloth beneath to catch the coins people would throw in to make a wish. You also had to have a drink of the water and you hung your ‘cloot’ on a branch. Buses brought people or some would walk. You proceeded down through Blackpark Farm, over a stile and into the wood. The well was 2 feet deep and 18 inches in diameter.

Anne C MacKintosh

Articles for the Newsletter If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. Maureen Kenyon, Newsletter Editor The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the:

Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Email – NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Maureen Kenyon


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‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 78 – November 2016 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992 (Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report Hello everyone, this is the final newsletter of 2016 and I hope you enjoy our two remaining events. On Wednesday 2nd November 2016, we have a talk on Medals and Militaria relating to WW1 by Bob Shanks and Leslie Easton. The Forum Christmas Lunch is in the Palace Hotel on Wednesday 7th December 2016, if you do not have your ticket for this lunch, could you please ensure that you pay for it on the 2nd November 2016. Our first talk after the Festive break is on Wednesday 1st February 2017 when Sandy Thompson from Cromarty is giving a presentation entitled ‘From Crofting to Oil. The Forum Office Bearers and Committee Members wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Looking forward to meeting up with you all again in 2017. Kindest regards to all. Bill Anderson, Convenor

Calendar 2016 / 2017 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness)

Wed 2nd Nov

Medals and Militaria of WW1

Bob Shanks & Linsey Easton

Wed 7th Dec

Forum Christmas Lunch

Details in Newsletter

Wed 1st Feb

Cromarty - From Crofting to Oil

Sandy Thomson

Wed 1st Mar

A Photographic Journey Through the Streets of Inverness

Norman Newton and Maureen Kenyon

Wed 5th April

To Be Confirmed

Wed 2nd May

A talk based on the Highlands and slavery

Wed 7th June

AGM – Followed by a Talk / Film Show – ( details to be confirmed)

David Alston

Christmas Lunch The Christmas Lunch is on Wednesday 7th December 2016 at the Palace Hotel, Ness Walk at 1pm. The cost per person is £14.95 and this includes a ticket for our free raffle draw. Places must be booked and paid for by Wednesday 2nd November 2016.

Grand Christmas Quiz Sheets – are still for sale at £1 each – return your completed entry to the office or any Committee Member by Monday 21st November 2016 to be in with a chance of winning a prize.

2017 Forum Calendar Only a handful of our ‘Old Inverness in Postcards’ 2017 calendars remain. They are sold with a packet for posting and cost £7.99 each – Forum members can purchase two calendars for £15.

The Hill Area – Memories from Before the 2nd WW With the help of an elderly resident’s recollections and Burgh Directories of the time (between five and six years before the start of the 2nd WW) the following article gives a glimpse of the Hill area. Shops and Businesses  There was a cobblers shop at the top of Stephen’s Brae.  On the corner of Crown Avenue was Mrs Fraser’s Grocery Shop.  On the corner of Charles Street and Ardconnel Terrace – Ettle’s Grocery shop (now occupied by hairdressers).  On the corner of Reay Street and Charles Street – a grocery store run by two ladies (now bridal shop).  On the corner of Reay Street and Hill Street was a newspaper shop.  On the corner of Kingsmills Road and Hill Street a butchers shop (outline of bricked up doorway can still be seen).  The opposite corner of Hill Street and Kingsmills Road was a barber shop (who also sold “Black Twist” to customers).  2 Hill Street was a sweetie shop.  On Kingsmills Road (next to Crown School) was a cobblers shop (now occupied by a mortgage business).  MacAulay’s Grocery Store was also on Kingsmills Road along with the Post Office run by Miss Yeudall at number 17, on the corner of Kingsmills Road and Union Road.  A clothier’s store (now a hairdresser) traded on the opposite corner of Kingsmills Road and Union Road.  On the other side of the road (where the pharmacy is now) Mr Rizza sold ice cream and sweets and on the corner of Southside Road and Crown Street was Bowmans the bakers (occupied by Morrisons until relatively recently).  Macpherson’s butchery business also had a shop on this side of the road.  On Argyle Street/Denny Street corner was a taylors shop (now occupied by a hairdresser)  On Crown Street/Denny Street corner (still occupied by a shop) was a grocery store run by a Mrs Goodfellow and diagonally across from it, another grocery store run by Mrs Bella MacKay.  One of the more unusual businesses conducted in the area was “The Feather Shop”. This business, according to a Burgh Directory of the time was run by a Miss Hilda Wilson, a feather mount maker, at 4 Bale’s Buildings in Argyle Street.  Several dairies flourished in the area. Crown Street Dairy (now a house), the Barn Dairy operated on Hill Street (now a house), the Argyle Dairy and El Dad Dairy owned by the Munro family. The cattle being herded daily from grazings at Annfield. El Dad Farmhouse


was on the corner of Argyle Street and Southside Road and is now occupied by a medical practice; the dairy buildings at the rear are occupied by a veterinary business. (Photo of Bale’s Building. The door on the corner of the building was the entrance to the feather shop.)

Occupations Some of the women of the area, as can be seen above were running shops and small businesses but most of the men in the area were employed as tradesmen – plumbers, joiners, bakers etc. The more unusual occupations noted are surface man, tanner, mattress maker, boiler man, sculptor, lithographer and lamplighter (a Mr Mellis who lived at the top of Stephen’s Brae). The most unusual occupation listed in the Burgh Directory being, ‘representative of the Anglo Persian Oil Co’. Quite a few of the men worked for LMSR in various jobs such as engine driver, signalman, railway clerk, checker, signal fitter, porter, fireman, telegraph linesman and hammerman among others. One of the features of the area which is now gone was a bowling green which was situated on Crown Street. Two semi-detached houses set back from the road with large gardens to the front, now occupy the site. Hazel Lane (which ran to the rear of Ardconnel Street is no longer there. An elderly resident recalls that the area was so well supplied with shops and services that a visit ‘down town’ by the local women was such an occasion that it called for a best coat and hat (perhaps with a feather from Miss Hilda Wilson’s emporium) to be worn!

Jessie Kesson

(1916 – 1994)

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the birth of the well know Scottish author and playwright Jessie Kesson. She was born in the Poorhouse (Hilton), Inverness on the 29th October 1916 and her birth certificate names her as Jessie Grant MacDonald, her mother was Elizabeth MacDonald. Elizabeth took her baby and went to live in the Elgin area (where she had lived previously) shortly after the birth. (Hilton Hospital - Built as a poorhouse between 1859 and 1861 at a cost of c. £6,000 was used to rehouse ‘inmates’ from the overcrowded Dunbar’s Hospital in Inverness, with accommodation for around 170 people. Known as the Inverness Poorhouse between 1859 and 1921, it then became Muirfield Institution 1921-1961 and finally Hilton Hospital 1961-1987. The building is now Old Edinburgh Court and converted into privately owned flats.)

The child was illegitimate and they lived in poverty in a tenement building in the centre of Elgin. When her mother became ill, Jessie, who was only 8 years old at the time ended up in an orphanage called Proctors House in Kirkton of Skene, Aberdeenshire. Jessie attended Skene School until the age of 16; she showed great promise as a writer. Her Head Teacher recognised her talent and encouraged her as much as he could. (Skene School photo – Jessie is in the centre) Jessie wanted to go to Aberdeen University to continue her education but the trustees of the orphanage felt an education would be ‘wasted’ on her. Even though her teacher 3

objected, they said she had to take up domestic work; Jessie went into service in 1932. Sadly, the young girl ended up being ‘put’ into a mental asylum after assaulting the Matron (who verbally abused the young Jessie) in the girls’ hostel where she lived. Jessie eventually moved into a foster type of boarding out home in Abriachan on remand to see if she was well enough to live independently. While living in this area Jessie worked in Woolworths, Inverness for a short time in 1934. She met a cattleman, Johnnie Kesson – also fostered out in Abriachan in his early years and the couple were married in the manse of St Marks Church, Inverness at 49 Fairfield Road on 9th April 1937. Some years later whilst travelling on a train, Jessie met the Scottish author Nan Shepherd who encouraged her to continue with her writing and eventually she successfully wrote articles for the Scots Magazine and Plays for BBC Aberdeen. In 1947, she moved to London, initially by herself to find work and a place to live before her husband and two children joined her. She combined writing novels and writing radio plays with other jobs from artist model, cinema cleaner and a social worker. Later Jessie went on to produce Woman's Hour for the BBC. It was around this time she wrote her best-known novel, ‘The White Bird Passes’ in 1958. The book is semi-autobiographical and still in print today. Several more books followed over a period of 30 or so years. Through poverty and her unsettled early years, Jessie’s life ambition to attend university and achieve a degree never came to fruition. However, Aberdeen University awarded her an honorary DLitt in 1987 much to her delight she was able to wear ‘a scarlet goon’ when she became Dr Jessie Kesson. She died in London in 1994. ‘The Jessie Kesson Fellowship’ - Moniack Mhor Writers Centre stands close to the place in Abriachan where Jessie lived for several years and to honour her inspirational life and work they award an annual ‘Jessie Kesson Fellowship’ to promising authors – an appropriate memorial to a very talented woman.

Articles for the Newsletter If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. Maureen Kenyon, Newsletter Editor The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the:

Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Email – NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Maureen Kenyon


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‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 79 – February 2017 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992

(Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Convenor’s Report Welcome to our first newsletter of 2017. I hope you all had a nice festive break and steered clear of the dreaded cold bugs that have been doing the rounds. Once again we have a full programme for everyone to enjoy in the lead up to the AGM and summer break. Information and dates are below. With great sadness I noted the death of Local Historian and accomplished artist, Hector MacDonald who passed away on 29th December 2016 at Raigmore Hospital after a long illness. Our sympathies goes out to his wife Helen at this sad time. Hector will be missed very much, I used to blether to him most days about a wide range of things. The gentleman was a walking source of knowledge on Inverness and the surrounding area. When Hector researched anything he was meticulous in his notes and was seen most days walking back from the library carrying his research papers in a carrier bag. A great loss to Inverness as I am sure you will agree. In September of this year Inverness Local History Forum celebrates its 25th anniversary and the Forum will be discussing at our next Committee Meeting if we might do something to mark the occasion later this year. Further details will follow in the next edition of the quarterly newsletter. Bill Anderson

Calendar 2017 / 2018 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm – The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness) Wed 1st Feb

Nigg - From Crofting to Oil

Sandy Thomson

Wed 1st Mar

A Photographic Journey Through the Streets of Inverness

Norman Newton and Maureen Kenyon

Wed 5th April

The History of Inverness Hospitals

Jim Leslie

Wed 2nd May

A talk based on the Highlands and Slavery

David Alston

Wed 7th June

AGM – Followed by a Talk / Film Show – ( details to be confirmed)

Notices Christmas Events Our Christmas lunch at the Palace Hotel was a great success, a lovely meal was served and a good time was had by all. Special thanks to Allan Cameron who presented an excellent but poignant film tribute to the late Billy Nelson, our good friend, Forum member and a great entertainer from previous Christmas events.

Congratulations to Anne MacKintosh for submitting the only all correct entry to our Christmas Quiz. The runner up was Claire MacBeth who scored 21 out of a possible 22 marks. Both ladies received a £10 book token. (Answers can be picked up at the next Forum meeting or email us for a copy). Two people won Christmas hampers in the members ticket draw while several other folk were also lucky enough to choose a gift from the selection of donated prizes. Exhibition A small exhibition by Anne MacKintosh is to be held within Inverness Cathedral from the end of January to the end of March. It is to pay tribute to Sgt Frederick H Winchester, a former bell ringer and chorister at Inverness Cathedral on the forthcoming 100th anniversary of his death in action near Arras in 1917. He was made Treasurer & Secretary of the St Andrews Cathedral, Inverness Society of Bell Ringers in 1912. A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday March 29th, the actual day and month of his death in 1917. The Cathedral’s bells will be rung half muffled before and after that service.

The Hill Area – Memories from Before the 2nd WW In November 2016 we published an interesting article written by Irene Munro. It had been put together with the help of an elderly resident’s recollections and Burgh Directories of the time (between five and six years before the start of the 2nd WW). After he read the article, David BowdExworth got in touch with us via our Facebook page asking if he could make a small correction to the article and adding some more information. He wrote: ‘The dairy on the corner of Argyle Street and Southside Road was the Eldad Dairy (not El Dad, which sounds very Spanish). Note: This building is now occupied by the Kingsmills Surgery)

It was started by my 4 x great Grandfather, William Roberts senior (born, William Robertson, in St Ninians, Stirlingshire in 1820) after he retired from the post of Superintendent of the Line of the Highland Railway. His house (one of the first four houses to be built in Southside Road) was called Eldad Villa (an Old Testament name, whose meaning I have forgotten. (When William Roberts moved to Broadstone Park, his new house was called Elnathan Villa, so Old Testament names ran in his blood). William Roberts built stables in his back garden (now the veterinary practice in Argyle Street) and rented Dell of Inches farm from the Robertsons of Inshes. One of William's sons (John?) took over the dairy business when his father finally retired to Broadstone Park, but it does not seem to have stayed in the family after William's death. [William Robertson/Roberts, 1820 -1896]

Another of his sons, William jnr., was the Chief Engineer of the Highland Railways and designed the stations at Kingussie and Newtonmore, along with the 2

elegant extensions at Aviemore station and the engine shed still used by the Strathspey Railway. William jnr. lived in Rockland, further along Southside Road, now a dental practice. My MacKenzie 3 x great grandfather lived at Albyn Cottage (now 19 Southside Road, probably the first two houses in Southside Road and, like Eldad Villa, owned and lived in by my family from new), the northernmost of the semidetached 'gothic' cottages on the other side of the road. He owned Simon MacKenzie's, the plumber's business in Church Street, and won the contract for the lead work at the cathedral.’ [William Roberts, Jnr (1848-1st December, 1918), Justice of the Peace, member of Inverness Burgh School Board, Food Commissioner for the North of Scotland and Civil Engineer] (Dave Conner added the photographs of the buildings to a similar article that was shared on our Facebook page a while ago. The family photographs were submitted from David Bowd-Exworth.)

An Inverness Check (Token) One of the earliest specialist tea companies was The London and Newcastle Tea Company established in 1875. They were one of the first firms to operate on a multiple branch scale and by 1880 it was the second biggest grocery and provision dealer with 40 to 50 branches (the rapidly rising firm of Thomas Lipton of Glasgow coming third). One of their outlets was at 29 High Street Inverness (from 1880 to 1886). The Manager was John D Lowden and he resided at Craigie Villa, Midmills Road. Before purchasing, customers were able to taste. The Company’s tea was sold in 2oz to 1lb packets and with each purchase a token or brass check was given. Customers saved these and exchanged them for gifts e.g., a piece of crockery or a toy. The Token was also an excellent form of advertising and is now highly collectible. In the 1950’s this company started producing dividend stamps. Interesting fact: Teabags! – In 1904 a tea and coffee merchant in New York (Thomas Sullivan) packaged loose tea in small, hand sewn silk bags as an convenient way to distribute samples. His customers brewed the tea in the bags rather than removing the contents, and so the teabag was invented. However, in 1952 Thomas Lipton improved upon this invention introducing the Flo-Thru Tea Bag – with four brewing sides, rather than two. He was the first to package tea in small tins. Anne C MacKintosh

A Seasonal Extract from the Inverness Courier – 2nd January 1891

Fine bracing weather was experienced in Inverness yesterday, and New Year’s Day was therefore fully enjoyed by all classes of the community. The ponds were in fair condition for curling and skating and old and young spent a few hours very pleasantly on the ice. The football matches attracted a good deal of attention, and the pantomime at the Theatre was well patronised. In most of the churches religious services were held. 3

The streets during the day were quiet and orderly, and although a number of the licensed premises were open, there was no disturbance. At the Police Office last night only one accident was reported – that of a man who was knocked down by a passing cab. He was conveyed to a neighbouring house where it was found his injuries were not of a serious nature. The Exchange

As usual, a large number of people assembled on the Exchange to welcome in the New Year. The crowd was chiefly composed of young men, and was orderly to the extreme. Indeed, it appeared as if a large number of the youths had invested more money in fireworks than in whisky; and for a quarter of an hour before the advent of 1891 the Exchange and its neighbourhood was made lively by the firing of rockets, equilus, and crackers.

The various parties composing the crowd gathered together as the hands on the Drum Clock on Bridge Street approached the hour of twelve, and feeling was intensified as the minutes ran on, and the old clock above failed to proclaim the departure of the year. After the earthquake shocks, the effort it was humorously said, was too much for it; but, badly as it had been used, it declined to join the strike. The crowd was disappointed, and 1891 had started well on its course before they joined in exchanging the congratulations of the season. Thereafter all quietly dispersed, and the streets throughout the night were very quiet and orderly. (The image on the left is the Exchange outside the Town House and on the right is the Steeple and you can just make out the old Drum Clock on the Bridge Street wall – this clock is now situated outside the Welfare Hall in Grant Street, Inverness – Note: the Welfare Hall is currently being renovated, the clock has been removed and it will also undergo a complete overhaul ready to be placed back on the wall when the building work is complete)

The earthquakes referred to and said to be affecting the chiming of the Steeple Clock at midnight were widely reported in the local and national press. From the 15 th November 1890 through to Sunday 15th December 1890 the Inverness area suffered from a serious of 8 earthquakes of varying degrees of intensity. Four of them happened on consecutive Sundays causing local churchgoing residents to be fearful of what was to come next! Maureen Kenyon Articles for the Newsletter If you have a story or an article with a local history connection, (with or without illustrations / photographs as we can add them) that you would like to contribute please send it to me via the email address below or hand in your written notes to any Committee Member, we will do the rest. Maureen Kenyon, Newsletter Editor The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the:

Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Email – NEWSLETTER EDITOR – Maureen Kenyon


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‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 80 – April 2017 Inverness Local History Forum’s Newsletter Since 1992

(Scottish Charity Number: SCO 25287)

Welcome to a very special edition of the Forum newsletter. This is our 80th edition and 2017 is the 25th Anniversary of the Inverness Local History Forum. As many of you will know Sheila S MacKay OBE was the founder and inspiration behind the organisation. In 1992 she encouraged a small group of local people to work together uncovering, recording and sharing the social history of Inverness. For 25 years the Committee and ordinary members have organised a wide variety of interesting events, exhibitions and talks or spent hours in the archives researching and contributing to our publications which have been our main way of raising funds. The 80th Anniversary Supplement contains a selection of photographs illustrating many of the events and occasions of the Forum including a copy of an early newsletter. Annual General Meeting 2017 is not the first year when we have reached crisis point as the AGM approaches but thankfully we seem to have found enough people willing and able to fill the vacancies on the committee. However at the time of going to print there is still a vacancy for a Secretary. This role is very important and we would like to encourage anyone who feels they have the ability to take notes at committee meetings, type them up, distribute them to members, book rooms and generally keep the Convenor on his toes, to come forward and find out a bit more about the role. The outgoing committee wish the new Office Bearers and general committee members well and we are grateful to them for coming forward and safeguarding the future of our Inverness Local History Forum.

Calendar 2017 / 2018 (1st Wednesday of each month, 2pm (except Oct 2017 )– The Theatre, Spectrum Centre, Margaret Street, Inverness)

Wed 2nd May

How Inverness benefitted from the slave trade

Wed 7th June

AGM – Followed by a Talk / Film Show – ( details to be confirmed)

Wed 6th Sep

Academy Street, Inverness - Streetscape

Wed 11th Oct

NOTE – CHANGE OF DATE (still 2pm)as Spectrum Centre Rooms are not Available – Speaker to be confirmed

Wed 1st Nov

200 Years of the Inverness Courier

David Alston

Lorna Maclennan - IMAG

Jim Miller

Notices AGM Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 7th June 2017 at 2pm followed by our normal monthly presentation. Please try and attend to show your support for our outgoing and incoming committee members. No one will be pressurised into joining the committee at this meeting as a lot of work has been going on to find new people to replace the long serving folk who are standing down this year. We are grateful for the messages of support and offers of assistance that have been made by Forum members over the past couple of months and we are now in a position to be ‘fairly’ confident that the Forum will continue to run as usual from the start of the new season in September 2017. However, if you feel you would like to be part of the Forum committee by filling the vacancy of Secretary please get in touch as soon as possible. Subscriptions for 2017 / 2018 Subscriptions will be taken from members from the September meeting onwards. As usual if you could put your cheque or cash in an envelope with your name and address on the front it will save a queue forming at the signing in desk. Your receipt can be picked up at the next meeting. (You can also send a cheque to the office with a note of your name and address) The membership rates are: £10 per single person or £18 per couple

Thrills and Spills of Bygone Times Monsieur Gouffe – An Amazing Feat! Inverness had a theatre in the early 1820s in what had been Theatre Lane (Hamilton Street). It ran parallel to Inglis Street separated from it by Hamilton & Hunters Buildings and the old Wesleyan Chapel. In about 1827 the theatre changed hands and was converted into shops and warehouses (History of Inverness 1847). On the few occasions when a company of actors visited Inverness, a temporary theatre would be fitted up on the ground floor of the Northern Meeting Rooms on Church Street. An early entertainer was Monsieur Gouffe the man-monkey/contortionist. He performed wonderful feats on the Bamboo Tree and Rope, concluding with hanging himself by the neck. When this was performed in The Theatre, Inverness in July 1842, the playbill stated “a feat that is acknowledged to surpass anything ever attempted in this Kingdom”. It would appear that this theatre is the one referred to as The Theatre or Theatre Royal, Lowe’s Rooms in Church Street, Inverness before moving to Bank Street. When The Circus Came To Town Possibly one of the earliest to visit was Ord’s, which frequented Inverness in the 1840s with performances on the open space at the Maggot Green (near the Black Bridge). Indoor performances (usually a play) in Lyon’s Hall off Academy Street, or Lowe’s Rooms, Church Street 2

(Theatre Royal), were held in the evening. In 1847 Mr Ord erected ‘a new and splendid circus’ in Academy Street fitted up with stoves and illuminated by gas (Inverness Journal). This was a large wooden building on the site where the Victorian Market now stands. Mr Ord gave his final Inverness performance here in 1849. The Maggot Green and Davis Square were popular pitches, but as circuses grew larger these sites proved too small and the Capel Inch, the Citadel, the Northern Meeting Park and Victoria Park became the chosen venues. Many circuses came to Inverness and in the 1930s the Bught Park became the popular choice – nowadays it seems the Longman is the designated site. The Moscow State Circus is a regular visitor, characterised now by people with extraordinary feats of human capabilities. Usually accompanying a circus would be a menagerie. At one time they were horse-drawn, but eventually the railway provided them with a quicker means of travel between towns. To begin with exotic animals, such as lions, tigers, hyenas, bears etc. were just exhibited but as things progressed they were trained to put on a show. The trainer, generally a man, would perform with them in their cage and lion tamers were at the top of the list for thrills. In 1884 E H BOSTOCKS Grand Star Menagerie rolled into town - the lions, elephants and other savage animals had been trained to perform by SARGANO the renowned African lion trainer. A splendid brass band accompanied this outfit. Descriptive lectures and exhibitions were put on four times daily. From - Inverness Courier 8th July, 1884

The star of this show was Saragano or Sargano Alicamousa the lion tamer, whose most daring act was wrestling with a lion. Although he was more widely known as Alicamousa his actual name was John Humphreys and he was born in St Vincent. It is not known what became of him. One of the most famous bareback riders in the world was James Munro Melville born in Inverness in 1835. He accompanied his parents to Australia and in 1851 he joined a circus in Sydney. In 1854 he married Elizabeth L Mills a horseback performer and they had 5 children. They travelled the world extensively and 3 of their sons became circus riders. James died in 1892 at his home in New York City. Other popular forms of entertainment in the Victorian era were the sideshow attractions. Some of the shows were optical illusions, but many displays were of people - now described as ‘biological rarities’. Described as tall with massive proportions, a lass from Inverness was portrayed as: An Inverness Giantess – ‘Inverness has just exported a natural production more worthy of notice than monster turnips or enormous gooseberries. A giantess, Christina Macdonald, formerly resident in Muirtown Street, has been engaged by the proprietor of one of the caravans lately stationed at the Maggot, to be exhibited to ‘gentlemen for 6d, and trades-people for 3d’ in company with dwarfs and performing rabbits. The giantess is young, being only twenty years of age, and is six feet and a half in height.’ From -The Inverness Advertiser, 9th July 1850 3

Death of the Inverness Giantess ‘Christina Macdonald, whose tall and massive proportions well entitled her to the title of the Inverness Giantess, died in the Northern Infirmary. Her height was some six feet seven inches, but dressed as she usually was in her favourite Rob Roy tartan, with a massive turban on her head, she almost appeared taller. Miss Macdonald made a tour through the colonies and America; and while in Glasgow, where she remained with Mr David Brown, from her kindly good-natured disposition she made herself a general favourite with the habitués of the music saloon.’ From - Aberdeen Evening Express, August 1884

Today we would not class her height as being ‘gigantic’, but the average height for males during this era would be about 5’5” with females being slightly smaller. Christina was brought up in Cameron’s Close, off Muirtown Street and was the youngest of the family. She died on Saturday 2nd August 1884 in the Northern Infirmary aged 54 years and her last known address was 52 High Street, Inverness. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West In September 1904 Colonel William C. Cody (Buffalo Bill) and his Congress of Rough Riders of the World arrived at Inverness Railway Station in three special trains, to present his Wild West Show on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd. School children were given time off on the Friday to attend this spectacular performance, which was to have been performed in Victoria Park. However this venue proved too small and it was held upon the fields of Dalneigh Farm, Cemetery Road (now Bruce Gardens). Performances were given in the open air, but the patrons were protected from the weather by a huge canvas pavilion which covered all the seats and in the evening the arena was illuminated. It was an outstanding success with two performances daily, and it was calculated that over 15,000 people were present at each show on the Friday and this number increased by several thousand on the Saturday. People came from far and wide and it was reported in the Ross-shire Journal that it had been one of the best shows ever seen in the north. This extensive tour was Cody’s third and final visit to the UK. The first was in 1887 when he brought the show to England during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, performing at Earl’s Court Showground in London, where it was reported Queen Victoria and her entourage attended two Royal Command performances. This year sees the centenary of his death. Anne C. MacKintosh Inverness Local History Forum, Room 2, Spectrum Centre, 1 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1SL Email – The Inverness Remembered Project is a sub-group of the:



‘INVERNESS REMEMBERED’ Issue 80 - April 2017 Special Newsletter Supplement for our 25th Anniversary 1992 – 2017

Enclosed is a copy of the very first ‘official’ newsletter which appeared in 1997 (there are on file earlier small ‘information’ handouts). The first edition was produced by Sheila MacKay and the Inverness Local History Forum, ‘Inverness Remembered Project’. This was the start of an archive which has now reached its 80th edition. The quarterly newsletters contain many articles, stories and photographs all connected with the history and culture of Inverness. The newsletter format is much the same today as the first edition – informing members of future speakers; Mr Ian Michie, Bob Steward and Syd Atkinson were much enjoyed guests of the Forum in the early days. The subscriptions rates have increased with inflation over the years and we still invite our members to send in their own personal stories, photographs and memories as this is what our organisation is all about – preserving, sharing and recording our local history. Although the organisation had its first meeting in 1992 it was the mid 1990s before the group received charitable status, opened a bank account and set up a formal constitution. The organisation continued to grow in leaps and bounds and the membership has steadily increased throughout our 25 year history.

Sheila MacKay, Provost Bill Smith, Hillary Lawson from the WEA and early members of the Inverness Local History Forum

Some Early Forum Photographs and Memories

Gathering the oral history of Inverness was one of the most important tasks during the early years of the Forum. To date we have an archive of over 200 hours of recordings made by Sheila and her colleagues in the 1990s and early years of this century. We still do some recording of people’s memories of Inverness but not on the scale that the early members undertook the task. These early recordings are the basis of two books Sheila edited on behalf of the Forum.


Sheila Mackay, Vi Murray, John Barnes and Kay MacKenzie – getting ready for the Castle Street Exhibition in 2000

Our Exhibitions over the years have been well attended and have brought many happy memories back to the people who attended them. Events and our local history have been brought back to life through photographs, artefacts and small sets portraying scenes long gone now. Who remembers George’s war time shelter in the ‘War Time Memories’ in the Dr Black’s Hall in 2005 or Allan’s – Farraline Park classroom scene in ‘More Than Just a Bus Station’ in the Spectrum Centre in 2011?

In 2004 the Forum, led by the then Convenor George Christie, decided to take part in an organised dig in the garden of a house in Auld Castle Road to see if they could uncover any trace of Macbeth’s Castle. Artefacts were uncovered including pieces of what were thought to be medieval glass and evidence of a wall at the bottom of the trench.

One of the most popular ‘hands on’ exhibitions was held in an empty shop in the Victorian back market in Inverness over the Christmas holiday period in 2009. George and members of the Forum transformed the shop into a nostalgic wonderland of early toys, games and books including a wide selection of items which children (and adults) could handle and play with. Some folk made several visits to the shop and spoke of their own childhood memories relating to the articles on display.

Christmas Past Most of us have memories of the Christmases of our childhood and the excitement which built up as the big day drew closer. It is probably difficult for us older folk to remember now the innocence with which most children of the earlier days of the 20th Century regarded the approach of Christmas and Santa Claus, or, as some would put it, Father Christmas. In those days most children truly believed in the great man who came in the night with his sack full of gifts and surprises to be opened on Christmas morning. How many of us woke in the early hours and poked about at the end of the bed where, hopefully, a now well filled stocking, hung, or if you were really lucky, a pillow case full of surprises. The real test was to see how much longer it would be before you could get out of bed and see what Santa had brought in his sack. Lying awake in the dark, remembering your parents instructions – ‘Don’t get out of bed until we put the light on,’ and stomach churning with excitement – then, at last it was time to get up and see what Santa had brought. by Sheila Mackay)

(Newsletter 59 – Dec 2011 - (Extract from an article

In 2012 members had the opportunity to actually rise to the heights of the Inverness Steeple spire during the renovations of this historic feature of our city centre. A birds eye view of the streets surrounding the area was enjoyed by all who dared scale the stairway to the clock level and beyond (for those who were brave enough to use the final ladders). To be able to see the talented stone masons at work and view the clock face up close was something special.

Our 20th Anniversary Celebrations and Beyond

Sheila Mackay with Provost Graham and Jane Petrie at the 20th Anniversary Civic Reception – September 2012

Special 20th Anniversary ‘Old Inverness Film Show’ at Eden Court 10th Film Festival in November 2012

20th Anniversary Lunch December 2012

The launch of ‘Farraline Park – More Than Just a Bus Station’ in December 2014

This is just a little snapshot of some things the Inverness Local History Forum has been involved with over the past 25 years. Do you have any photos or memories to add to our archive of the Forum’s history. If you have please send it to me - Maureen Kenyon -

Inverness Remembered — January 1997