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TITLE
The Battle of the Orange (1 of 5)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_IANSUTHERLAND_01
PLACENAME
Wick
DISTRICT
Eastern Caithness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS: Wick
DATE OF RECORDING
1991
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Ian Sutherland
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1686
KEYWORDS
herring
markets
disputes
skirmishes
fights
fighting
Pulteneytown
Highlanders
audio

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In this audio extract, Ian Sutherland of Wick Heritage Society relates the story of the 'Battle of the Orange', or the 'Big War in Wick'. The extract is from Moray Firth Radio's 'Recollections' series, transmitted in 1991.

It wis on the 27th o August, 1859, at wis jist aboot the end o the herrin fishin season in Wick at that time. Wick Ah should say, then, wis the premier herrin port in Scotland. It wis exportin a third o all e herrin that gied oot o Scotland wis goin oot o Wick, and it attracted something like three to four, sometimes even five thousand people fae the west. Now by the west in Wick we mean e mainland and e Western Isles so all the fishermen goin out o Wick at e time, somethin like a total o maybe a quarter o them or slightly less would be, what we would caul Hielan Men fae the west, and they had come till Wick by is time for sixty years an there had never ever been any trouble. However, on this particular day, it wis a Seturday nicht.

Now it wis the custom for the Hielan men, because it wisnae long aifter e Disruption, an, ye know back till the fundamental releegion, an the Free Kirk wis sort o tightenin up its grip on it, they used'll go till prayer meetins in preparation for e services e followin day and fifteen hunder o them wis at wan prayer meetin in Wick. It wis the largest Gaelic-speaking congregation the world has ever seen were in Wick. But at left somethin like two to three thousand other people, cos the boats had all been tidied up, everything wis feenished for e weekend and it wis e custom then just'll wauk through the streets. The market square in Wick wis a magnet, of course, for people for ye could see freends fae all re place an they also had a lot o stalls an booths. Irish ragmen, all that kind o people were up wi usually rubbish at they were selling till people, ye see? They'd all this fancy patter fae the sooth but they didnae realise that most o e folk they were sellin till couldnae speak English anyway. It must have been quite folly puttin all this fancy patter to somebody that could speak only Gaelic. But anyway, that didnae deter them, they still did it. And among the crowd that wis doon there wis this boy fae Lewis. He wis aboot eleven years auld, eleven or twelve years auld, just maybe twelve like, cos he wis likely round wi his faither at e fishin, that's likely why he wis in Wick. An he had boucht an orange fae wan o these stalls an booths an he wis crossin the road an he let it fall. An it fell an rolled till e feet of a boy at belonged'll Wick, we think Pulteneytoon, but e boy wis slightly bigger, aulder, fourteen or fifteen, an he lifted up e orange an he widnae gie it back. An of course, e boy a'd brought e orange, fae Lewis, asked some, two people at he kent till help him till get e orange back. An course, the men he spoke till, the wan o em wis slightly drunk, an in takin e orange back fae the boy fae Wick he struck him. Ah don't think it wis a hard skelp but he struck him anyway. An jist like wildfire, fechtin broke oot jist clear across e market square. They reckon that within a two meenits three hunder men were fechtin in e market square, for no reason at all

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The Battle of the Orange (1 of 5)

CAITHNESS: Wick

1990s

herring; markets; disputes; skirmishes; fights; fighting; Pulteneytown; Highlanders; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Battle of the Orange

In this audio extract, Ian Sutherland of Wick Heritage Society relates the story of the 'Battle of the Orange', or the 'Big War in Wick'. The extract is from Moray Firth Radio's 'Recollections' series, transmitted in 1991.<br /> <br /> It wis on the 27th o August, 1859, at wis jist aboot the end o the herrin fishin season in Wick at that time. Wick Ah should say, then, wis the premier herrin port in Scotland. It wis exportin a third o all e herrin that gied oot o Scotland wis goin oot o Wick, and it attracted something like three to four, sometimes even five thousand people fae the west. Now by the west in Wick we mean e mainland and e Western Isles so all the fishermen goin out o Wick at e time, somethin like a total o maybe a quarter o them or slightly less would be, what we would caul Hielan Men fae the west, and they had come till Wick by is time for sixty years an there had never ever been any trouble. However, on this particular day, it wis a Seturday nicht. <br /> <br /> Now it wis the custom for the Hielan men, because it wisnae long aifter e Disruption, an, ye know back till the fundamental releegion, an the Free Kirk wis sort o tightenin up its grip on it, they used'll go till prayer meetins in preparation for e services e followin day and fifteen hunder o them wis at wan prayer meetin in Wick. It wis the largest Gaelic-speaking congregation the world has ever seen were in Wick. But at left somethin like two to three thousand other people, cos the boats had all been tidied up, everything wis feenished for e weekend and it wis e custom then just'll wauk through the streets. The market square in Wick wis a magnet, of course, for people for ye could see freends fae all re place an they also had a lot o stalls an booths. Irish ragmen, all that kind o people were up wi usually rubbish at they were selling till people, ye see? They'd all this fancy patter fae the sooth but they didnae realise that most o e folk they were sellin till couldnae speak English anyway. It must have been quite folly puttin all this fancy patter to somebody that could speak only Gaelic. But anyway, that didnae deter them, they still did it. And among the crowd that wis doon there wis this boy fae Lewis. He wis aboot eleven years auld, eleven or twelve years auld, just maybe twelve like, cos he wis likely round wi his faither at e fishin, that's likely why he wis in Wick. An he had boucht an orange fae wan o these stalls an booths an he wis crossin the road an he let it fall. An it fell an rolled till e feet of a boy at belonged'll Wick, we think Pulteneytoon, but e boy wis slightly bigger, aulder, fourteen or fifteen, an he lifted up e orange an he widnae gie it back. An of course, e boy a'd brought e orange, fae Lewis, asked some, two people at he kent till help him till get e orange back. An course, the men he spoke till, the wan o em wis slightly drunk, an in takin e orange back fae the boy fae Wick he struck him. Ah don't think it wis a hard skelp but he struck him anyway. An jist like wildfire, fechtin broke oot jist clear across e market square. They reckon that within a two meenits three hunder men were fechtin in e market square, for no reason at all