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TITLE
West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - letter to an employee, 1953
EXTERNAL ID
HCD_DAVIDBANKS_111
DATE OF IMAGE
10 February 1953
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
1435
KEYWORDS
fishing industry
commercial fishing
salmon fishing
trout fishing
net fishing
West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - letter to an employee, 1953

James Banks, owner of the sea salmon fishing around Skye, wrote this letter to Neil Angus Nicolson at Bayfield, Portree in February 1953. Banks had a house at Bayfield and lived there during the salmon fishing season. Nearby were sheds where the boats and equipment for his business were stored during the winter months. There was also an area for hanging nets for cleaning and repairing. Neil Angus Nicolson was foreman and net man for Banks and the employee who was paid year round to keep an eye on the equipment and carry out maintenance work during the off season. Banks wrote often to Nicolson to discuss what work was required, what they had to plan for and to keep up to date with other employees.

In this letter he discusses the best date to launch "Nereid". The "Nereid" was the boat used to travel between the salmon stations at Staffin, Braes and Raasay and it carried ice, equipment and supplies as well as fish. The "Nereid" was kept in the boatshed at Bayfield over the winter months and hauled down to the shoreline ready for launching. As Banks discusses, this was dependent on the tide and wanted advice from Nicolson regarding the right time for the launch.

Banks also mentions MacIntyre in Mallaig who was a marine engineer. Banks had written to him in January discussing an insurance claim and enclosed cheque that would allow MacIntyre to go ahead with his 'side of the arrangements'. In this letter, Banks also discusses the tides, stressing the importance of getting the boat in the water and down to Mallaig to do the repairs in good time before the salmon fishing season began.


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. - letter to an employee, 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)

James Banks, owner of the sea salmon fishing around Skye, wrote this letter to Neil Angus Nicolson at Bayfield, Portree in February 1953. Banks had a house at Bayfield and lived there during the salmon fishing season. Nearby were sheds where the boats and equipment for his business were stored during the winter months. There was also an area for hanging nets for cleaning and repairing. Neil Angus Nicolson was foreman and net man for Banks and the employee who was paid year round to keep an eye on the equipment and carry out maintenance work during the off season. Banks wrote often to Nicolson to discuss what work was required, what they had to plan for and to keep up to date with other employees. <br /> <br /> In this letter he discusses the best date to launch "Nereid". The "Nereid" was the boat used to travel between the salmon stations at Staffin, Braes and Raasay and it carried ice, equipment and supplies as well as fish. The "Nereid" was kept in the boatshed at Bayfield over the winter months and hauled down to the shoreline ready for launching. As Banks discusses, this was dependent on the tide and wanted advice from Nicolson regarding the right time for the launch. <br /> <br /> Banks also mentions MacIntyre in Mallaig who was a marine engineer. Banks had written to him in January discussing an insurance claim and enclosed cheque that would allow MacIntyre to go ahead with his 'side of the arrangements'. In this letter, Banks also discusses the tides, stressing the importance of getting the boat in the water and down to Mallaig to do the repairs in good time before the salmon fishing season began.<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>