Raasay: The Island and Its People

By Norma Macleod | Go to book overview
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Although it is too soon to attempt a comprehensive history of the last fifty years there are some aspects of those decades that may be considered.

About 1949, DAFS granted land on Raasay to the Forestry Commission. This gave some much-needed employment on the island. At most about fourteen men were employed. They were busy for a number of years fencing, clearing and planting. At that time all planting was done by hand. Although in the early years the work was labour intensive, as time went on fewer men were required and the numbers employed dwindled.

In the early 1950s, two township roads, to Balachuirn and East Suisnish were constructed by DAFs Until the 1950s, a contractor maintained Raasay roads. Thereafter the Roads Department of the County Council took over this work, employing some men themselves. This source of employment reached its peak in the 1970s, when the then regional council employed six men. By the 1980s, however, local authority budgets were being cut and anyone who retired or left was not replaced. The ferry service by then made it possible for road maintenance to be carried out by squads from Skye. Now, no one on Raasay is employed by this department.

After his death, Peter Nicolson's family continued to run the shop at Mill Place. It was taken over by the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society (the Co-op) in the late 1940s but continued to operate from Mill Place. It was not until the 1950s that they acquired houses in the Terrace and moved their premises. In February 1973, the shop was taken over by Finlay MacLennan, formerly the Co-op manager, who ran it until he retired in July 1999.

In May 1956 Raasay was officially 'switched on'. The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board had opened Storr Lochs power station in 1952, and thereafter worked to bring power to the whole of the Skye area. Laying the submarine cable from Braes to Raasay was part of that exercise. By the beginning of April 1956 the power lines on Raasay were in place, and all the townships that have electricity today were connected.

The 'switching on' ceremony was held at Braes and the speeches transmitted to Borrodale House in Raasay. The official party then crossed to the island. The occasion was celebrated at Raasay Hotel (Raasay House) and Borrodale, where a cookery demonstration was held. The coming of electricity to Raasay, as for the Highlands in general, was one of the great advances of the twentieth century.

Until 1959 the Loch Nevis was the boat that served Raasay. Six days per week, she left Portree and sailed to Mallaig, returning to Portree in the evening. In 1959, because of a reduction in passenger numbers, David MacBrayne Ltd rescheduled their sailings. From then, the Loch Arkaig served both Raasay and the Small Isles. Based at Portree, she called on Raasay in the mornings on


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Raasay: The Island and Its People


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