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West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - Letter requesting telephone installation on Raasay

James Banks of the West Highland Salmon Fisheries based in Portree, Isle of Skye wrote often to the Post Office trying to get a phone connection to the residence of his Foreman at Brochel Castle salmon station on the east side of Raasay. Usually three times a week, the supply boat would come from Portree to the station, bringing supplies and uplifting fish, and this was the only way Banks had of communicating with the crew at the station. When the weather was bad and the boat didn't go from Portree, several days could pass with no communication between the station and the headquarters in Portree.

This letter is a reply to one of the many letters Banks wrote to the Post Office. In it he again stresses the importance of this phone connection to his business. In earlier correspondence he stated that his employees had been 'labouring under difficult circumstances'. The nearest telephone was at Arnish, on the west side of the island, and telegrams were only delivered every second day. The inability to communicate properly often resulted in deliveries being delayed and a deterioration in the condition of the fish, thus affecting their value.

Despite these arguments, Banks always got the same response. In a previous letter, from October 1948, the Post Office stressed the 'acute shortage of materials' and that engineering staff were 'engaged in providing service for farmers and other essential industries'. This letter also states that his application 'will not be lost sight of' and when possible to provide the service he would be notified.


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 requesting telephone installation on Raasay

1940s

fishing industry; commercial fishing; salmon fishing; trout fishing; net fishing; post office; telephones; telegrams; boats; fishing stations; communication

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

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

James Banks of the West Highland Salmon Fisheries based in Portree, Isle of Skye wrote often to the Post Office trying to get a phone connection to the residence of his Foreman at Brochel Castle salmon station on the east side of Raasay. Usually three times a week, the supply boat would come from Portree to the station, bringing supplies and uplifting fish, and this was the only way Banks had of communicating with the crew at the station. When the weather was bad and the boat didn't go from Portree, several days could pass with no communication between the station and the headquarters in Portree. <br /> <br /> This letter is a reply to one of the many letters Banks wrote to the Post Office. In it he again stresses the importance of this phone connection to his business. In earlier correspondence he stated that his employees had been 'labouring under difficult circumstances'. The nearest telephone was at Arnish, on the west side of the island, and telegrams were only delivered every second day. The inability to communicate properly often resulted in deliveries being delayed and a deterioration in the condition of the fish, thus affecting their value. <br /> <br /> Despite these arguments, Banks always got the same response. In a previous letter, from October 1948, the Post Office stressed the 'acute shortage of materials' and that engineering staff were 'engaged in providing service for farmers and other essential industries'. This letter also states that his application 'will not be lost sight of' and when possible to provide the service he would be notified. <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>