Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Harris Post-Persons

Strond Post Office (Far Right) on 23th May 2009

An image from 1996/7 can be seen here: http://www.scotland-inverness.co.uk/lburgh.htm

A list of those providing postal services to the population of Harris (with additional dates of significance):

1840 – Uniform Penny Post introduced in Great Britain

Kenneth Morrison, 40, Postmaster, Tarbert, b. Inverness
Norman Morrison, 50, Tarbert, Post

Roderick Morrison, 50, Obb, Post

1848 - Sunday Postal Deliveries stopped

Roderick Morrison, 59, Parcel Carrier, Obe, b. Harris
John Mackinnon, 37, Cluer, Letter Carrier, Visitor
John Macleod, 20, Strond, Letter Carrier
Master of Harris Mail Boat - http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/03/master-of-harris-mail-boat.html

1855 - Construction of the road from Stornoway to Harris, through the parish of lochs, began in 1830. It was eventually completed in 1854, and though it was a road only in the vaguest sense of the word it was sufficient for the GPO to contemplate an expansion in the postal services.
It was proposed to run a foot-post from Stornoway to Tarbert twice weekly in summer and once weekly in winter, at a cost of thirteen shillings a week. Two runners were employed on this service: one messenger took the mail as far as Balallan and the other carried it from there to Tarbert. This service came into operation on 29th March 1855.

Ref: http://www.witpg.org.uk/articles3.htm

Roderick Morrison, 41, Obb, Post Runner
Roderick Kerr, 22, Strond, Post

1870 - Telegraph service starts in UK but see earlier piece on telegraph cables!

Roderick Kerr, 30, Strond, Post Runner

Henry Galbraith, 65, Obbe, Postmaster b.Ireland
Roderick Kerr, 40, Strond, Letter Carrier

1883 – Parcel Post begins

Angus Macdonald, 59, No.5 East Tarbert, Postmaster
Roderick Campbell, 40, Scalpay, Sub-Postmaster
Norman Macsween, 17, Scalpay, Post Runner
Mary Galbraith, 67, Obb, Post Mistress
John Macdonald, 26, Strond, Post Runner

1894 – Picture Postcards introduced

Angus Macdonald, 70, North Harris, Postmaster
Angus Macaskill, 20, North Harris, Post Man
Marion Campbell, 43, Scalpay, Sub-Postmistress
Kenneth Campbell, 22, Scalpay, Letter Carrier
Finlay Mackinnon, 34, Cottar's House, Stockinish, Post Runner
Mary Mackay, 51, Manish Post Office, Assistant Postmistress
Margery Mackay, 80, Manish Post Office, Grocer
Mary Gilbraith, 77, Obb, Post Mistress
Malcolm Macrae, 22, Obb, Letter Carrier
Christopher Macrae, 18, Obb, Postman or Letter Carrier
Donald Macaskill, 27, Bernera, Post Runner
Helen Maclean, 52, Bernera, Post Mistress

I think there are several significant feature here.

The appearance in 1891 of the Postmistress in Obb suggests that prior to this it may well have been the case that whatever postal services were available were integrated into suitable pre-existing businesses in Obb.

Tarbert's absence from these records after 1841,when is had a Postmaster, until 189, is at first sight slightly more surprising because if anywhere would have been expected to have shown the development of postal functions then surely Tarbert would have been it?

It is not until the start of the 20th Century that we see evidence of a system of postal functions covering the mainland of Harris and the outliers of Bernera and Scalpay too.

The role of Letter Carrier or Post Runner was often undertaken as an additional, secondary one and my relative's appearance in the records is perhaps the exception that proves this particular 'rule'?

Roderick Kerr, Postrunner, died at home in Strond aged 56 on the 3rd January 1891 of Chronic Bronchitis.


  1. Peter,
    I have recently started to study the history of post offices on Harris and am trying to document all the sites and remaining buildings, their dates of operation and resident postmasters. Your blog item on Harris Post-Persons is very useful in my research.

  2. Delighted to hear that, Michael, and your Archie Chisholm book is brilliant! Please keep in touch, all the best, Peter.