View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday 10 April

Quite a nice day, with good sunny spells, but with distant showers looming on the southern horizon. One crossed Stornoway around 5pm, but it was only a sprinkling. Tomorrow morning will see some substantial showers crossing our area.

I have today completed the transcription of the Napier Report of 1883. This is a major document in the history of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and paved the way for a complete overhaul of legislation related to landownership, tenancy, usage &c. Although 129 years have passed, the Report remains relevant today. It is a large document, encompassing 46,600 questions, 5 tomes of 800 pages each which have been scanned by Lochaber College Mallaig (now the West Highland campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands) in 2007. I started this in March 2008, but did not properly commence the transcribing until the spring of 2010. I copied the text off PDF-files onto a Word document, cleaned up the mess and copied the results into a Blogger site. There are now 10 blogs, related to different areas of the Highlands and Islands. I have asked Lochaber College Mallaig to rescan one appendix for me. Hope they will oblige.

Titanic 100 - Norge 108

At midday today, a recording of Titanic's ship's whistle was sounded across Southampton docks, at the exact hour 100 years ago that RMS Titanic slipped its moorings and set sail on its doomed voyage. A modern cruisliner, MS Balmoral is in the North Atlantic, braving early spring gales as it retraces the route that Titanic took in 1912. On Saturday evening, it should be at the site where the Titanic went down. As we all know, more than 1500 souls were lost on 15 April 1912.

Does anyone know about the nearly 700 souls that were lost on board the emigrant ship Norge, which foundered at Rockall on 28 June 1904? You may wonder about the connection, but the connection is there, and it's a stark one. When the inquiry was held into the sinking of the Titanic, one of the contributory factors to the number of lives lost was the lack of lifeboats and other life-saving apparatus on board. After the loss of the Norge, it was also found that there was a lack of lifeboats on board. The recommendation that there should be sufficient lifeboats to accommodate all aboard, was never followed up.

And it was this omission that made the sinking of the Titanic such a dreadful loss of life.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, at 12.40 am, I shall remember the loss of 1500 lives on board Titanic. I shall also remember the 700 lost on board the Norge, eight years previous. For their loss was in vain, as Titanic proved.