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TITLE
West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - dispute with H. Barber & Son, 1953
EXTERNAL ID
HCD_DAVIDBANKS_079
DATE OF IMAGE
24 June 1953
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
1316
KEYWORDS
fishing industry
commercial fishing
salmon fishing
trout fishing
net fishing
West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - dispute with H. Barber & Son, 1953

The West Highland Salmon Fisheries on the Isle of Skye sent fish to wholesale merchants, independent fish sellers and individuals throughout the country. The goods were usually shipped by rail or sent through the post. With hundreds of pounds of fish being shipped all over the country, it was not unusual for discrepancies, or perceived discrepancies, over weights and quantities.

This letter refers to a dispute between James Banks and the fish merchants, H Barber & Son of Billingsgate Market in London. The original dispute is referred to in a letter from Barber on 3 June which was in response to Banks disagreement on the weight of fish sent the previous month. Barber reminds Banks that there is a natural shrinkage to the fish during transit which can amount to a 2.5% weight loss. He also queries whether Banks has the correct weight of the boxes the fish are shipped in as the box weight can change with age and usage. James Banks replied to this letter stating that he was sure of his figures. Barber came back with the reply that he too was confident of weights but suggested that the difference be accepted and shared by the two parties.

Banks in the letter above, dated 24 June 1953, makes it quite clear that he is not happy with Barber who has 'destroyed our confidence in your firm' and reluctantly agrees to a mutual sharing of losses. Banks goes on to outline the difficulty in shipping fish from Skye in order to get it to market in best condition. He finishes his letter stating that this season was the poorest since he came to Skye. All in all, Banks was running a business that was very susceptible to factors well beyond his control and carried high expenses with a large workforce, boats and equipment to maintain. However, he did not want to alienate a wholesaler he had been shipping fish to for several years and he agreed to the compromise of sharing the difference.


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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West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - dispute with H. Barber & Son, 1953

1950s

fishing industry; commercial fishing; salmon fishing; trout fishing; net fishing

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

David Banks: West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd (documents)

The West Highland Salmon Fisheries on the Isle of Skye sent fish to wholesale merchants, independent fish sellers and individuals throughout the country. The goods were usually shipped by rail or sent through the post. With hundreds of pounds of fish being shipped all over the country, it was not unusual for discrepancies, or perceived discrepancies, over weights and quantities.<br /> <br /> This letter refers to a dispute between James Banks and the fish merchants, H Barber & Son of Billingsgate Market in London. The original dispute is referred to in a letter from Barber on 3 June which was in response to Banks disagreement on the weight of fish sent the previous month. Barber reminds Banks that there is a natural shrinkage to the fish during transit which can amount to a 2.5% weight loss. He also queries whether Banks has the correct weight of the boxes the fish are shipped in as the box weight can change with age and usage. James Banks replied to this letter stating that he was sure of his figures. Barber came back with the reply that he too was confident of weights but suggested that the difference be accepted and shared by the two parties. <br /> <br /> Banks in the letter above, dated 24 June 1953, makes it quite clear that he is not happy with Barber who has 'destroyed our confidence in your firm' and reluctantly agrees to a mutual sharing of losses. Banks goes on to outline the difficulty in shipping fish from Skye in order to get it to market in best condition. He finishes his letter stating that this season was the poorest since he came to Skye. All in all, Banks was running a business that was very susceptible to factors well beyond his control and carried high expenses with a large workforce, boats and equipment to maintain. However, he did not want to alienate a wholesaler he had been shipping fish to for several years and he agreed to the compromise of sharing the difference. <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>