Nigg and Shandwick Work

Nigg and Shandwick Community Collage
In the 21st century the name "Nigg" is synonymous with that of the oil industry.  The photos which follow illustrate the huge amount of work necessary to develop the area.


Pitcalzean Wood and Hi-Fab yard at the start of development, c.1974.


Excavation at the Hi-Feb site.


Excavation work and the popular Nigg beach disappears for ever.




Construction work.



Construction continues.


And progresses.


And continues.




And goes on.


And continues.


And nears the end.


The Hi-Fab accommodation ship Highland Queen.


The Hi-Fab site with oil rig in the dock.


Another aerial view with Cromarty in the background.


The site completed.


Apprentices at Hi-Fab.


The site in action.

Work on repairing oil platforms began at Nigg and Invergordon.  One of the first to be floated out was the Elf platform and the spectacular photographs which follow show it passing through the Sutors. Unfortunately, RCHS has no record of the photographer concerned.


Approaching the North Sutor with Nigg Hill in the background.


Hi-Fab yard in the background.


Cromarty to the left, Nigg to the right, and Ben Wyvis in the far background.


Cromarty on the left.


Cromarty receding.


Through the Sutors.


There are more photographs in the Cromarty Community of the Ameralda Hess and ELF structures that were built at Barmac's fabrication yard 

Nigg and Shandwick Parish Work


Photographs of work carried out in the area


Workmen re-building Dunskaith House, c1906
l-r: ? Mackenzie, Donald (Danny) (father of Mr John Ross, Pleasant Cottage), ? Mackenzie, ? Mackenzie (joiner), ?, Andrew Ross (uncle of Miss Helen Macleod), Donald Munro ("Danny the Breach").


SS Sutors, the Cromarty-Invergordon ferry, c.1926.


Jack Calder, Culnaha Farm 1938.


Big Hughie and two others on the 'Park' at Balnabruaich.


Three horses and binder with two men.


Two horses and binder with two men.


Horses ploughing, possibly at Easter Rarichie.


Reclamation on Wester Rarichie hill started in 1974 taking about three years to complete.


Cattle grazing.


More cattle.


And more.



Reclamation, Wester Rarichie.


Cullisse farmworkers.






Three photos of harvesting at Cullisse (no date).




Mechanisation has arrived at Cullisse.


Time to clip sheep at Cullisse.


Long service awards - Cullisse farmworkers (no date).


One man and his dog at Cullisse.


Hay drying by electricity at Cullisse.


Girl with stooks, Nigg Mains.


Harvest at Broomton with Elizabeth Wright, A Beattie, C Mackenzie (The Boss), F Vass and W Ross. Late 1950s. (Photo from William Ross)


Hunter Gordon, Westfield.


Two horses and William Ross (in Sunday best?) at Westfield.  Hand-operated turnip cutter against the wall.


Pitcalzean (Westfield), c.1950s.
L-r: Martin (Ardross), Davie Munro (Shepherd), Mr Lawrie (Shepherd), Chris Matheson (Cattleman), Hughie Robertson, Jimmy Macdonald (Tractorman and Piper), Alex Moir (Grieve).  Tractor on left has Ross-shire number CJS165.


Local farmworkers working at turnips.


Cattle grazing.


Until some have the attention of the local milkmaid.


Then there is the shepherd with his flock.


Mobile mill workers (Tommy Mann).


"Tattie Howkin" in the past with horse power.


Cromarty Fishers photos taken c.1900

Photographs taken around the turn of the century by Willie John Smith, a keen amateur photographer who lived in Cromarty. The people seen are mostly old or middle aged, their faces worn and moulded by a life of austerity, even deprivation. At the time these photos were taken Cromarty was already well into its decline. This once-proud fishing village, which in its hey-day, exported cloth, linen, nails, spades and ropes had already started to export its most precious commodity - its young people. The young people were attracted by the prospect of work in the South or of a new life in the Commonwealth and left the village and the prospect of a life eked out in hard work and poverty. This process of emigration was to continue well into the 20th century. In the 1920's, for instance, some 140 people left the town to settle in America, Canada and Australia.

There were a number of causes contributing to the town's decline. the invention of the steam engine meant that fishing had become more mechanised and the Cromarty people had simply not kept up with the times; the corresponding fall in demand for the town's traditional products of sails and ropes; the vagaries and chance of herring fishing itself, and the lack of a railhead in the town, which meant the commerce tended to be directed inshore. The Great War also took its toll of the town's young men and the erection of boom defences in the Cromarty Firth has also been blamed for a decline in the fishing industry, since it restricted the activity of the boats.

The Cromarty fisherfolk were a close-knit community, dominated by a few families - Watsons, Skinners, Hoggs, Hossacks, and Finlaysons. In the winter they often virtually starved, scraping an existance by snaring rabbits and gleaning potatoes from the fields. The children would run barefoot for most of the year and their homes were often cold and damp, with no running water or toilets.


Gordon's Lane, Cromarty. Maggie Flora Hogg opening mussels in preparation for baiting a line. The child in the background is possibly Katie Hossack.


Shore Street end of Gordon's Lane.
Some of the 'tough and hardy' men of Cromarty. From the left, Murda, Jimmy Potchak, Popenny, Lairdie and Boacks. In those days, c.1900, most of the houses in the fishertown were thatched.


Danny 'Boacks' Hossack working on his lines.


Even the women had bye-names - photo shows 'Nansack', 'Annie Trickie' and 'Cripple Annie'.


Cromarty fisherfolk c.1900.


A burning of sticks to take home for the fireplace . . . the scene is The Little Vennel and carryimg the firewood is 'old Alicky Peepy'.

Note:  This article, and photographs, has also been transferred to the 'Folk' section in the Cromarty community of RCHS website.


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