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TITLE
Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (1 of 3)
EXTERNAL ID
PC_JOHN_MACKENZIE_A
PLACENAME
Fortrose
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Rosemarkie
PERIOD
1930s
SOURCE
John Mackenzie
ASSET ID
29166
KEYWORDS
trains
steam trains
locomotives
Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (1 of 3)

This photograph is of John Mackenzie as a young boy. John's father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the Black Isle Railway branch at Fortrose. At the time this photo was taken (1930s) John was living at Railway Terrace, Fortrose. In the text below, John remembers life on the Black Isle Railway. (Part 1)

'I was born in 1930 and till October 1940 lived in Fortrose on the Black Isle where my father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the branch. Sometimes, when talking of our younger days, mostly with my sister and younger brother, memories of railway interest come to mind and I thought that maybe I should record them before, like a lot of information on the past, the knowledge vanishes forever.

At first we lived on Deans Road in Fortrose, but later moved to live on Railway Terrace, which gave much more opportunity to take in the railway scene. Some of the earliest memories entailed meeting the Saturday morning Passenger Train, which about once a month, carried my maternal Grandmother from Inverness to Fortrose for a day's visit. Granny returned to Inverness on the last train of the day to Muir of Ord to get the connection to Inverness. Her visits entailed a visit to Fortrose of about six hours' duration plus travelling time of about two hours. Today the travelling time for that outing would be about twenty minutes, but by road.

Another memory entails a job that a pal (Jimmy MacKeddie) and I did on a Saturday morning concerning the same train. There was an Italian owned café on the High Street called 'The Merrythought Café' and on a Saturday blocks of ice, wrapped in Hessian sacking arrived in the guard's van of the passenger train, addressed to the café. My pal and I delivered the blocks of ice using a two-wheeled railway owned 'spanker', taking turns pushing this 'machine' the three hundred yards or so to the café. It was hard going for youngsters, as Station Road at that time was not tarred and had a rough water-bound surface. Sometimes more than one trip was required. Our payment was a dish of delicious ice cream smothered in raspberry sauce. Whether ice was conveyed in it everyday I do not know, but we only delivered on Saturdays.

At the time of which I write (1930-1940) the houses were occupied by:-

No 1 Driver Charlie Taylor
No 2 Fireman Jack Mackenzie
No 3 Passenger Guard Jim Macbean
No 4 Driver Frank Hay
No 5 Jim MacGillvary of the P.Way
No 6 Guard Jock Skinner (I remember that Jock Skinner had one of his hands damaged in a shunting accident. His hand was squeezed between wagon buffers.)

There was no direct road access to the six houses on Railway Terrace. The nearest road was the road to Killin, at the rear of the houses at a higher level and about a hundred and fifty more feet from the back door. The normal route for access to home was down the ramp at the Booking Office end of the station platform, across the crossover for the run around loop via a cinder built crossing. Then a path led to the turntable where the route used the top of the pit wall close to the garden fence of no. 6 Railway Terrace, to access the space between the line from the coaling stage to the turntable and the front gates of the houses. The number of times that we tripped and fell on the crossing, hurting ourselves on the closely spaced rails, or, which was more serious, fell into the turntable pit, would now be conjecture, but it was fairly often and we often had bruises as a result. I cannot imagine that access route being allowed today under health and safety regulations, but then it was the norm.

The stationmaster at Fortrose lived in splendid isolation in a bigger house accessed by the same cinder crossing at the end of the platform. I can remember three Stationmasters at Fortrose: Mr Jimmy Dick, who I believe became stationmaster at Beauly; a Mr Riach, whose son I think became stationmaster at Kincraig; and a Mr Oliver, who became stationmaster at Aviemore about 1947/48. I can remember his daughter being a booking clerk at Aviemore at that time.

In summertime there used to be two camping coaches in the otherwise unused head shunt of the run around loop, usually used all summer by visitors.

There was an inspection pit outside the steam shed, where every night the engine fire was dropped. The pile of discarded firebox contents smouldered away for days. This provided the children of 'The Terrace' with endless enjoyment as we used to bake potatoes and apples in the hot ashes and have quite good picnics and parties.'

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Early Reminiscences of the Black Isle Railway, by John Mackenzie (1 of 3)

ROSS: Rosemarkie

1930s

trains; steam trains; locomotives;

John Mackenzie

This photograph is of John Mackenzie as a young boy. John's father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the Black Isle Railway branch at Fortrose. At the time this photo was taken (1930s) John was living at Railway Terrace, Fortrose. In the text below, John remembers life on the Black Isle Railway. (Part 1)<br /> <br /> 'I was born in 1930 and till October 1940 lived in Fortrose on the Black Isle where my father was one of the two Passed Firemen on the branch. Sometimes, when talking of our younger days, mostly with my sister and younger brother, memories of railway interest come to mind and I thought that maybe I should record them before, like a lot of information on the past, the knowledge vanishes forever.<br /> <br /> At first we lived on Deans Road in Fortrose, but later moved to live on Railway Terrace, which gave much more opportunity to take in the railway scene. Some of the earliest memories entailed meeting the Saturday morning Passenger Train, which about once a month, carried my maternal Grandmother from Inverness to Fortrose for a day's visit. Granny returned to Inverness on the last train of the day to Muir of Ord to get the connection to Inverness. Her visits entailed a visit to Fortrose of about six hours' duration plus travelling time of about two hours. Today the travelling time for that outing would be about twenty minutes, but by road.<br /> <br /> Another memory entails a job that a pal (Jimmy MacKeddie) and I did on a Saturday morning concerning the same train. There was an Italian owned café on the High Street called 'The Merrythought Café' and on a Saturday blocks of ice, wrapped in Hessian sacking arrived in the guard's van of the passenger train, addressed to the café. My pal and I delivered the blocks of ice using a two-wheeled railway owned 'spanker', taking turns pushing this 'machine' the three hundred yards or so to the café. It was hard going for youngsters, as Station Road at that time was not tarred and had a rough water-bound surface. Sometimes more than one trip was required. Our payment was a dish of delicious ice cream smothered in raspberry sauce. Whether ice was conveyed in it everyday I do not know, but we only delivered on Saturdays.<br /> <br /> At the time of which I write (1930-1940) the houses were occupied by:-<br /> <br /> No 1 Driver Charlie Taylor<br /> No 2 Fireman Jack Mackenzie<br /> No 3 Passenger Guard Jim Macbean<br /> No 4 Driver Frank Hay<br /> No 5 Jim MacGillvary of the P.Way<br /> No 6 Guard Jock Skinner (I remember that Jock Skinner had one of his hands damaged in a shunting accident. His hand was squeezed between wagon buffers.)<br /> <br /> There was no direct road access to the six houses on Railway Terrace. The nearest road was the road to Killin, at the rear of the houses at a higher level and about a hundred and fifty more feet from the back door. The normal route for access to home was down the ramp at the Booking Office end of the station platform, across the crossover for the run around loop via a cinder built crossing. Then a path led to the turntable where the route used the top of the pit wall close to the garden fence of no. 6 Railway Terrace, to access the space between the line from the coaling stage to the turntable and the front gates of the houses. The number of times that we tripped and fell on the crossing, hurting ourselves on the closely spaced rails, or, which was more serious, fell into the turntable pit, would now be conjecture, but it was fairly often and we often had bruises as a result. I cannot imagine that access route being allowed today under health and safety regulations, but then it was the norm.<br /> <br /> The stationmaster at Fortrose lived in splendid isolation in a bigger house accessed by the same cinder crossing at the end of the platform. I can remember three Stationmasters at Fortrose: Mr Jimmy Dick, who I believe became stationmaster at Beauly; a Mr Riach, whose son I think became stationmaster at Kincraig; and a Mr Oliver, who became stationmaster at Aviemore about 1947/48. I can remember his daughter being a booking clerk at Aviemore at that time.<br /> <br /> In summertime there used to be two camping coaches in the otherwise unused head shunt of the run around loop, usually used all summer by visitors.<br /> <br /> There was an inspection pit outside the steam shed, where every night the engine fire was dropped. The pile of discarded firebox contents smouldered away for days. This provided the children of 'The Terrace' with endless enjoyment as we used to bake potatoes and apples in the hot ashes and have quite good picnics and parties.'