View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tuesday 6 April

A day with varying fortunes in terms of weather. Although it is not really cold, there are showers about. Varying fortunes is also the order of the day down in London, where the Prime Minister has called a General Election for Thursday 6 May. The politicking that's been going on for a few months now will reach fever pitch, and I'll be heartily fed up by the end of today.

I am very pleased to be able to report that Scottish Natural Heritage, who own and manage the nature reserve of the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides, has signed over assets worth £257,000 to the island's community association. Rum has a checkered history, and it is a good thing that the island's residents, after 190 years, get control of their homes and village.

Rum's indigenous Hebrideans were expelled from the island in 1821, to make way for sheep, later deer. In the late 19th century, the island was bought by a Lancashire family of industrialists, the Bulloughs, who made their fortune in the textile industries. They built a folly-type castle at Kinloch, filled with the most mind-boggling and jaw-dropping artefacts. Some amongst the ugliest pieces I've ever clapped eyes on. After the First World War, the castle began to fall into disuse, and the last member of the Bullough family passed away in 1957. Lady Monica was carried the hard eight miles to Harris, on the island's southwest coast, to be interred in the family mausoleum.

Rum was bequeathed to the nation, and (what is now) SNH took over. The island became a nature reserve, with a colony of red deer being studied. Its only residents were SNH staff. The present take-over clears the way to increase the island's population from 30 to 80.