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TITLE
From Sea to Sea (6 of 19)
EXTERNAL ID
HC_STS_FROMSEATOSEA_06
DATE OF RECORDING
2001
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Bob Pegg & Willie Batchen
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
2403
KEYWORDS
canals
waterways
paddle steamers
Caledonian MacBrayne
audio

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The following extract is taken from 'From Sea to Sea', an audio celebration of the history, people, landscape and culture of the Great Glen waterway - The Caledonian Canal. The project was created in 2001 by Bob Pegg and funded by Highland Council through the British Waterways 'Living Waterways Programme'.

Willie Batchen: 'Ye had the first class, an ye had the third class, an there was plush seats around the saloon below. An ye lifted a cushion of the plush seat an in below there was a locker an that's where yer bed was. So, at night ye took yer bed out an put it on the seat and that's what yer accommodation was. And God only knows how many people sat on the top o yer bed by the day, ye don't know. But that's, that's - So in the mornin ye rolled up yer bed, lifted up the cushion, an put it below there. The only people that had a bunk, as ye call them, or beds, was the captain, the purser, an the chief engineer.

The other thing was, until we were found out, was - MacBrayne's had little bars of soap and it was impregnated right through - 'MacBrayne's for the Highlands'. So, I had the key of that locker. So, the boy in the fore cabin, he came down, Donald was his name. He says, 'Can ye get any more of that soap?' 'How?' 'Oh', he says, 'there a party of Italians there wantin them.' He says, 'I got a shilling for a cake of a - little cubes o soap.' So I just said, 'We'll get that.' So, I gave him, I gave him sixty cakes an within ten minutes he was back with thirty shillings for you; my share of the loot. That was all right. But what we didn't know there was stocktaking that night. What happened to the soap? So - not the first lie I told, Ah must admit - but Ah said a lot of the soap has been disappearing out o there. So the chief steward said, 'Well, this'll have to stop.' So, before the soap went out we had to halve the soap an put half a cake out, to serve that. I don't know - They said to be some o the foreigners that were takin the soap, to which I agreed; the foreigners did get the soap, but they paid pretty well for it.

There used to be a piermaster at Foyers and it was an extremely important position. An, at that time to land ye hid to pay pier dues. It was a penny for a child, tuppence for an adult, tuppence for a sheep, fourpence for a cow, an sixpence for a horse. They would travel up on the top o third class, the animals, and the first-class pass-, the third-class passengers were down below the deck. Now, in the early days, there was quite a lot o people from the west came over here an a lot o them spoke very basic English; it was nearly all Gaelic. An we had occasion that there was a, an old Skye man there, who was the piermaster, an we used to have the two passenger boats, they used to come in, an one was always in first. But on this particular day the one that was second, arrived in. So, the Skye man marched up an down, an in his absolutely fluent an perfect English announced, 'Well, well, well, well', he says, 'She used to be behind before, but now she's first at last!'

[Fiddle (Angus Grant), 'The Falls of Foyers']

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From Sea to Sea (6 of 19)

2000s

canals; waterways; paddle steamers; Caledonian MacBrayne; audio

The Highland Council

The Highland Council: From Sea to Sea

The following extract is taken from 'From Sea to Sea', an audio celebration of the history, people, landscape and culture of the Great Glen waterway - The Caledonian Canal. The project was created in 2001 by Bob Pegg and funded by Highland Council through the British Waterways 'Living Waterways Programme'. <br /> <br /> Willie Batchen: 'Ye had the first class, an ye had the third class, an there was plush seats around the saloon below. An ye lifted a cushion of the plush seat an in below there was a locker an that's where yer bed was. So, at night ye took yer bed out an put it on the seat and that's what yer accommodation was. And God only knows how many people sat on the top o yer bed by the day, ye don't know. But that's, that's - So in the mornin ye rolled up yer bed, lifted up the cushion, an put it below there. The only people that had a bunk, as ye call them, or beds, was the captain, the purser, an the chief engineer.<br /> <br /> The other thing was, until we were found out, was - MacBrayne's had little bars of soap and it was impregnated right through - 'MacBrayne's for the Highlands'. So, I had the key of that locker. So, the boy in the fore cabin, he came down, Donald was his name. He says, 'Can ye get any more of that soap?' 'How?' 'Oh', he says, 'there a party of Italians there wantin them.' He says, 'I got a shilling for a cake of a - little cubes o soap.' So I just said, 'We'll get that.' So, I gave him, I gave him sixty cakes an within ten minutes he was back with thirty shillings for you; my share of the loot. That was all right. But what we didn't know there was stocktaking that night. What happened to the soap? So - not the first lie I told, Ah must admit - but Ah said a lot of the soap has been disappearing out o there. So the chief steward said, 'Well, this'll have to stop.' So, before the soap went out we had to halve the soap an put half a cake out, to serve that. I don't know - They said to be some o the foreigners that were takin the soap, to which I agreed; the foreigners did get the soap, but they paid pretty well for it.<br /> <br /> There used to be a piermaster at Foyers and it was an extremely important position. An, at that time to land ye hid to pay pier dues. It was a penny for a child, tuppence for an adult, tuppence for a sheep, fourpence for a cow, an sixpence for a horse. They would travel up on the top o third class, the animals, and the first-class pass-, the third-class passengers were down below the deck. Now, in the early days, there was quite a lot o people from the west came over here an a lot o them spoke very basic English; it was nearly all Gaelic. An we had occasion that there was a, an old Skye man there, who was the piermaster, an we used to have the two passenger boats, they used to come in, an one was always in first. But on this particular day the one that was second, arrived in. So, the Skye man marched up an down, an in his absolutely fluent an perfect English announced, 'Well, well, well, well', he says, 'She used to be behind before, but now she's first at last!' <br /> <br /> [Fiddle (Angus Grant), 'The Falls of Foyers']