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TITLE
Lealt Salmon Station, Isle of Skye
EXTERNAL ID
HCD_DAVIDBANKS_007
PLACENAME
Lealt
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Kilmuir
PERIOD
1950s; 1960s
CREATOR
James/David Banks
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
13065
KEYWORDS
salmon
fishing
Lealt
diatomite
industry
train
Lealt Salmon Station, Isle of Skye

This photograph shows the salmon fishing station at Lealt, on the east coast of the Trotternish peninsula, Isle of Skye. From this station there would usually be a three-man fishing crew looking after five nets. Tucked back from the shoreline sheltered from the wind are the huts used for accommodation and storing the nets and equipment used during the summer fishing season. Nearby were high poles where the salmon nets were hung to dry and for the frequent repairs necessary to keep them in good order.

The coastal area of Trotternish has a shallow, rocky shoreline with high cliffs. This area provided a good place for launching and landing the flat bottom cobles which were widely used in the area. The traditional design with high bow allows them to motor safely in big seas and be launched from beaches that had little shelter. On the water, these boats are very stable when hauling or moving anchors, nets and other equipment.

Smoke can be seen rising from fires on the beach. Each station would have vats for heating tar to coat the anchor chains to keep them from rusting, and for tarring shed roofs.

The salmon station is at the mouth of the Lealt River. Just three miles inland from the shore is Loch Cuithir. It was from here that Diatomite was extracted and transported on the small iron tramway for processing. Diatomite is sediment formed from microscopic algae rich in silica. It was used commercially in production of face powders, fillers and fire-proofing. Diatomite was mined here initially between 1886 and 1904. The industry suffered from inexperienced management, difficulties in processing and inefficient transport systems. The industry revived between 1951 and 1961 but with very little return for the investors. The salmon fishing and the diatomite works didn't always sit together harmoniously. In the mid-1950s there was a complaint made against the diatomite works claiming they were dumping dirt into the Lealt River, leaving the bay red for miles and spoiling the fish catches. This led to reports to local Fishery Officers, Department of Agriculture and the local Sanitary Inspector.


West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd
In 1944 James Banks & Sons, Perth bought the sea salmon fishing lease for the Kilmuir Estates, Skye from A Powrie & Co, and formed the West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd to operate the lease. The company continued until 1962 when it was sold to Kenneth Matheson, Portree.

When Banks and Sons took over the lease there were fishing stations at Lealt, Rigg (Borreraig), Staffin, Portree, Camustianavaig, Balmeanach and Brochel Castle (on Raasay). In 1956, Balmeanach and Camustianavaig merged to become the Braes station, with three men employed, while the others usually had four-man crews. The company employed about 28 men each year with jobs being offered to the same men each season before new workers were hired.

The season began late April/early May and ran through to the end of August. Several men were also employed during the winter months to take ice down from the dam at Sluggans for storage at the ice house at Portree harbour. Each crew member would receive a contract with information on wages, proposed bonus scheme and work hours and were provided with oilskins and rubber boots.

The catch was divided into salmon, grilse and trout, with grilse numbers being the highest. The total annual catch was approximately 3000 fish in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A record high of nearly 10,000 fish were caught in 1957.


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Lealt Salmon Station, Isle of Skye

INVERNESS: Kilmuir

1950s; 1960s

salmon; fishing; Lealt; diatomite; industry; train

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

David Banks: West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd

This photograph shows the salmon fishing station at Lealt, on the east coast of the Trotternish peninsula, Isle of Skye. From this station there would usually be a three-man fishing crew looking after five nets. Tucked back from the shoreline sheltered from the wind are the huts used for accommodation and storing the nets and equipment used during the summer fishing season. Nearby were high poles where the salmon nets were hung to dry and for the frequent repairs necessary to keep them in good order.<br /> <br /> The coastal area of Trotternish has a shallow, rocky shoreline with high cliffs. This area provided a good place for launching and landing the flat bottom cobles which were widely used in the area. The traditional design with high bow allows them to motor safely in big seas and be launched from beaches that had little shelter. On the water, these boats are very stable when hauling or moving anchors, nets and other equipment. <br /> <br /> Smoke can be seen rising from fires on the beach. Each station would have vats for heating tar to coat the anchor chains to keep them from rusting, and for tarring shed roofs.<br /> <br /> The salmon station is at the mouth of the Lealt River. Just three miles inland from the shore is Loch Cuithir. It was from here that Diatomite was extracted and transported on the small iron tramway for processing. Diatomite is sediment formed from microscopic algae rich in silica. It was used commercially in production of face powders, fillers and fire-proofing. Diatomite was mined here initially between 1886 and 1904. The industry suffered from inexperienced management, difficulties in processing and inefficient transport systems. The industry revived between 1951 and 1961 but with very little return for the investors. The salmon fishing and the diatomite works didn't always sit together harmoniously. In the mid-1950s there was a complaint made against the diatomite works claiming they were dumping dirt into the Lealt River, leaving the bay red for miles and spoiling the fish catches. This led to reports to local Fishery Officers, Department of Agriculture and the local Sanitary Inspector. <br /> <br /> <br /> <b>West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd</b><br /> In 1944 James Banks & Sons, Perth bought the sea salmon fishing lease for the Kilmuir Estates, Skye from A Powrie & Co, and formed the West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd to operate the lease. The company continued until 1962 when it was sold to Kenneth Matheson, Portree. <br /> <br /> When Banks and Sons took over the lease there were fishing stations at Lealt, Rigg (Borreraig), Staffin, Portree, Camustianavaig, Balmeanach and Brochel Castle (on Raasay). In 1956, Balmeanach and Camustianavaig merged to become the Braes station, with three men employed, while the others usually had four-man crews. The company employed about 28 men each year with jobs being offered to the same men each season before new workers were hired. <br /> <br /> The season began late April/early May and ran through to the end of August. Several men were also employed during the winter months to take ice down from the dam at Sluggans for storage at the ice house at Portree harbour. Each crew member would receive a contract with information on wages, proposed bonus scheme and work hours and were provided with oilskins and rubber boots. <br /> <br /> The catch was divided into salmon, grilse and trout, with grilse numbers being the highest. The total annual catch was approximately 3000 fish in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A record high of nearly 10,000 fish were caught in 1957. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image may be available to purchase.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href="mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com ">Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a><br />