Stornoway Gazette Letters 13.02.14

John Cameron from North Uist took this picture while working on St Kilda recently
John Cameron from North Uist took this picture while working on St Kilda recently


Stornoway Historical society has been tasked by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Stornoway Trust to research aspects of the Lews Castle Grounds by April this year.

This is part of the exciting Parks for People Project that both bodies are acting together on. The project will restore and improve the Lews Castle Grounds and will transform the management and maintenance of the park to enhance its enjoyment by local residents and visitors to Stornoway as part of a co-ordinated and concerted regeneration strategy.

The Society would greatly appreciate copies of photographs taken in the Castle Grounds over the years as a record of community usage of this invaluable community asset. People are sometimes unaware of hidden gems in their family photo albums that may contain much more than they were aware of.

The Society is also keen to obtain as much information as possible about the Castle garden, especially in relation to the plants, flowers, shrubs and trees planted originally.

In order that the aspiration to reinstate the original Garden can be achieved, the consultants engaged to oversee this transformation would need to know how the garden was landscaped. Much work has been successfully undertaken to date and we are continuing to research assiduously. It would be marvellous if anybody can locate or indeed provide photographs or images with views of:

1.The sunken garden from low ground, showing the garden layout in the mid-late 19th century, including the curved structure separating the two main terraces.2. The upper terrace of the sunken garden showing its layout and planting arrangements in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

3. The round pond (and its associated outlet channel c. 1850)

4. The Matheson Memorial from below, showing the retaining wall and the foreground area immediately below the monument .

5. The informal pond next to the Castle and of the early glasshouses,

6. The bastions and along the path above the bastion wall (we have the view towards the Castle but not from the Castle front)

7. The Shoe Burn valley and associated buildings and structures (bridges, lade etc)

8. The lodge houses and gateways to the grounds.

Please contact the Society if you are able to assist in any way.

Malcolm Macdonald

Chair of Stornoway Historical Society

personality clash - an insult

I write as one of the 24 objectors (including the North Uist Community Council) to the three Evance Wind Turbines at Malaclate, North Uist, and wish to state my sadness that elected Councillors should show such a base understanding of a stoic community and the complex issues involved with that particular application as to dismiss the whole exercise as a ‘Personality Clash’!

Malaclate is deserving of a higher level of debate than that which it was afforded last week in Stornoway.

The Malaclate community is not ‘split’ and is due an apology for facetious and trivial treatment by some members of the Planning Committee.

Dorothy Macdonald

Taobh An Uillt


North Uist

stornoway streetnames

It is a brilliant suggestion to change the names of some of the streets in Stornoway (Sallie Tyszko, Letters, January 30).

The first street name to be changed should be Matheson Road. In 1852 when James Matheson was being knighted at Buckingham Palace for his generosity to the poor of Lewis, the Lewis people he had evicted in 1851 and 1852 were dying from cholera in the swamps and forests of Ontario.

If Matheson and other evicting Highland landlords had not stolen the fertile land and banned the people from catching salmon, killing game and deer, there would not have been any famine during the potato blight.

Matheson Road should be re-named Rathad na Fuadach (The Road of Banishment) in memory of our kith and kin who were evicted and also remembering those who perished on fetid emigrant ships or expired shortly after landing in a foreign country.

A Lewisman commenting on the Rules and Regulations of the Matheson Estate in Lewis stated: “The Commandments of our Great Master are only ten in number, and a reward is offered if we keep them, but those of our well-meaning and easy insular tyrants are impossible of being observed; and all we can expect is to live as slaves and die as beggars.” ‘LEWIS: A History of the Island’ by Donald Macdonald.

Cromwell Street should be re-named The Viking or the Norseman’s Strand. Long before Cromwell was ever heard of, the Vikings would have walked along this way after stepping ashore from a longship.

They were there long before Cromwell was born.

Unlike that of Orkney and Shetland, the Norse history of the Western Isles has been more or less disregarded by islanders and historians. The Northern Isles were to some extent transplanted with Lowland Scots but proudly promote worldwide their Norse links.

It is time the Asketillsons, Iversens, Ljotulfis, Nicolaisens, Olaffsons, Svensens and others residing in Lewis villages such as Hollar-seadha, Sjabolstadr and Saesetr acknowledged their Norse progenitors. Laimrig na saighead, Bjarnary (Bernera) where King Haakon of Norway landed when sojourning in Lewis should at least have a cairn to commemorate the visit of this powerful king.

There are many islanders who should have streets named after them:

Captain John Ryrie, Stornoway, who in 1838 won the first ever China tea race from Whampoa to Hong Kong in command of the Cairngorm.

Tea became an important commodity and building clipper ships led to the development of the British shipbuilding industry.

Cunard or MacIver - David and Charles MacIver, of Uig origin, who with Samuel Cunard, and others founded the Cunard Line.

Hundreds of islanders sailed with Cunard including Captain Alexander Ryrie who in 1847 commanded the Hibernia that inaugurated the Liverpool to New York mail and passenger services. He was drowned in 1853 when the Audax was lost with all hands in the Indian Ocean.

Thomas MacLeod one of the few seamen who sailed on three Antarctic Expeditions: 1910 with Scott; and 1914 and 1920 with Shackleton.

James Robertson serving on HMS Victory was promoted after the Battle of Trafalgar and very likely he was involved in the hoisting of the signal “England expects.....” Captain James Robertson whose personal navigation charts were used by the Admiralty to map the South China Sea.

Alastair MacRae who during WW2 was the superintendent of Allied airports from Algiers to Cairo, Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Panteleria and Italy. After the war he was one of the leading engineers engaged in the construction of Heathrow airport.

Isabella Thomson, Tong, the first white woman to settle in North Athabasca, Canada, 2,000 miles north-east of Winnipeg. Without a word of English to help, she trekked, sailed and journeyed. Not an easy passage to be undertaken by a woman in 1880.

Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone whose mother belonged to Stornoway.

Donald MacLennan who founded America’s largest insurance broker, Marsh & McLennan

Petty Office Murdo MacDonald, RNR, North Tolsta, who in WW2 was one of the few, if not the only, naval rating decorated for bravery against the Germans and the Japanese. Awarded the DSM on HMS Bulldog on an Arctic convoy and the BEM serving on HMS Glenartney in the Far East.

Malcolm Smith from Uig who overpowered and captured the fierce and powerful Sultan of Djokjakarta, Java.

Smith was described as the best soldier in the British army.

There are many more islanders whose names should be on Stornoway street names before that of the tyrants Cromwell and Matheson.

Donald J.MacLeod

49 Woodcroft Avenue

Bridge o of Don


What love is this?

MSPs were given a standing ovation after they voted 105 votes to 18 to back the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. Thousands of Scots opposed the bill and the majority of MSPs have ignored public opinion, making me ask What Love is This?

What is it about this new legislation that we don’t know about when they are prepared to cast aside what the Word of God would say on such relationships?

One notable consolation is that those who do not wish to perform ceremonies such as church organisation and celebrants would be protected under built in legislation to accompany the bill. A historic day for equality, no an equality too far with two opposing world views, the sacred and the secular can’t be right.

Donald Murray

48 Suilven Way