View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Clearances: Strathnaver

I'm currently transcribing the Napier Report for Sutherland (the far north of Scotland), which carries some harrowing evidence. Angus Mackay, a 22-year old student of divinity, is being interrogated.

You say you are used and abused by the officials of the estate. Will you be good enough to mention instances of abuse?
I will give you a few specimens. The first case is one of Angus Gordon, tenant, Aird. In 1879 a road was made through Angus Gordon's croft while a large piece was taken from him at the lower end and a lime storing-house built upon it. The tenant was promised surface damages as his corn was partly destroyed, and a reduction of rent, but on making his demands when paying his rent he was only laughed at, and told that they would get plenty men to take his croft if he was not pleased with it. As he had roused the ire of the officials they gave permission to the vessels carrying lime into the river, to use for ballast the stones of the dyke fencing in Gordon's lot at the lower end. The dyke was pulled down accordingly, and now his croft is exposed to damage from his neighbours' cattle; and next year his rent was raised eighteen shillings—that was when the general rise was made on the rent —but he went to the Duke and the rent was reduced again.

Another instance is the case of one Christina Mackay, Beathag. She was an old woman and permitted James Thomson, her brother-in-law, to live in an end of her house, but, as the factor was at enmity with this man, he evicted Christina before the term, and sent the ground officer round the district forbidding the people upon pain of eviction to give her shelter in their houses. The public broke open the door of her house and she went in again and stayed till the term, when she was formally to be evicted upon a warrant. The thing preyed upon her mind so much that when the day of final eviction came she died about twelve o'clock, broken hearted, the ground officer and sheriff officer being then within half a mile of her house on their way to evict her.

Tuesday 19 October

A very cold day today. The mercury just about managed to scrape to 7C, but as I type (9.10pm), it is already on its way down again past the 3C mark. There were some beefy showers about, some carrying hail and sleet, by all accounts.

The UK Government has announced that the RAF Kinloss is to be closed, with great uncertainty remaining around the other RAF base in Morayshire, RAF Lossiemouth. Kinloss is currently home to the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft, which will not be replaced. The Nimrods are more than 40 years old, and nearing the end of their technical lifespan. If Lossiemouth closes as well, this will mean the loss of 15% of employment (4000 to 6000 jobs) in the county of Morayshire - a rural district which can ill afford such losses.

Contrast that to the antics of 24-year old star footballer Wayne Rooney who has said he is moving away from Manchester United, possibly to join United's rivals Manchester City. Rooney hasn't been doing to well this year, so I presume he wants a change of scenery. Spoiled brat. I have zero time for vastly overpaid football players who prance around a football pitch for a few hours each week - to be paid astronomical sums of money.