Destiny
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Ullapool on Loch Broom

Ullabool harbourside

The history of Ullapool and the north west Highlands is long and at times violent. Evidence of human settlements are still to be found along the coast and sometimes on the very road side. Stone circular foundations can still be seen at Rhue and around the region, many dating back over two thousand years. Brochs (old stone forts) can be found at Dun Logie and Rhiroy on Lochside and further north at Strathkanaird, Coigach and Assynt. A large fort called Dun Canna lies about a 7 kilometre walk north of Ullapool. A walk into the bay brings the reward of a fort system that has been dated as over 2,500 years old and on a low tide a Viking fish trap is still evident in the bay below, an addition that was built in the 8th Century.  

The north influence is still evident in many place names around the area. Ullapool itself is said to be derived from the Norse 'Ulla-Bolstadr' meaning 'Ulla's steading'. 

Fish and sea trade played an important role in why people chose to live here. This was hugely important in the development of what is often regarded as 'modern' Ullapool. In 1788 the British Fisheries Society commissioned Thomas Telford to design a village and port for what had become an important herring fishery. Some of the original buildings still exist across from the harbour: those that house ‘Made in Ullapool’, the ‘West Highland College’ and the ‘Captain’s Cabin’ are old vault-roofed buildings that were originally built as fish curing sheds in 1788. 

Ullapool fishing trawler

Losing the battle of Culloden in April 1746 was catastrophic for Scotland. Many communities throughout the region were devastated by what became known as 'the highland clearances’—a systematic ethnic cleansing of the highlands over the period of around 100 years between the mid-18th to 19th centuriesto make way for sheep, whose wool could supply the growing demands of the textile factories across the border in England. The landlords, of course, were always at pains to blacken the Highland character, to portray the people as lazy, idle, drunken, ignorant and dirty; their way of life as pathetic and wretched and with nothing in it worth preserving. All this is no more than usual tactics of bullies, dictators and oppressors of humanity everywhere. First, the victims must be totally dehumanised so that the crimes which are committed against them will not be seen as crimes, and the victims will not be seen as victims but as degraded, sub-human, and thoroughly deserving of every punishment which is to be meted out to them. But though the Highland lifestyle may well have been simple, and less idyllic than the exiles' memory of it, still there are many accounts of life in the Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries by independent observers such as James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Pennant and others, which showed that there was much in Highland life and culture which was good and admirable. The people, far from being lazy, were hard-working, industrious and hospitable; their homes were simple, but warm, practical and robust, and their culture, though oral (and therefore greatly undervalued by outsiders) was rich in song, history and legend, and the people placed great belief in the value of education. People either moved to the city, or took ship to foreign ports.  

 Deserted home-Up and left

Ullapool was the departure port of at least one ship, the Hector in 1773, that took emigrants to Nova Scotia. Forty-two years later, in another migration, Reverend McLeod led between 900 to 1000 of his parishioners from Ullapool across the sea to Nova Scotia in 1815.  Establishing themselves over a period of about 35 years at St. Ann’s, a series of circumstances then led this man to sail for the far side of the world in search of land with about 275 of his followers in two self-built ships, firstly to Australia and about a year later to Waipu, near the Whangarei Heads, Northland, where the New Zealand Governor, Sir George Grey, allocated land for them to settle.

Open: A Gaelic Migration
(A Gaelic Migration)


 

Open: A Gaelic Migration
(Far Side of the World-VI)

It was also from Ullapool that William (Willy) and Anne (Annie) Michael together with Mary and Janet, their first two children, left to board the Wanata in Liverpool for the 97-day voyage to Melbourne, Australia in 1852. In 2018 at least one members of the Michael family still resides in Ullapool. 

However you approach it, Ullapool comes as a surprise. From the south east you round a bend in the road and there it is, laid out across a bay in the side of Loch Broom. From the north, you crest a rise and, if your attention isn't still held by An Teallach to the south, you suddenly see Ullapool below you. 

Whatever the weather, you are immediately struck by Ullapool's whiteness and by its regularity of design and layout. This is a legacy of the town's origins, being designed and built in 1788 by  Thomas Telford and the British Fisheries Society. 

The aim was to exploit a boom in herring fishing at the time. This peaked and then, in an early example of overfishing, declined from the 1830s. By 1900 the enterprise was judged a failure leaving this nice grid plan town with little economic activity and fewer prospects. It took a couple more decades for the long-distance fishing fleets from eastern Scotland and beyond to discover Ullapool's benefits as a safe anchorage on the western side of the country. 

Since then, though the fortunes of the Scottish fishing fleet have ebbed and flowed, fishing has remained at the heart of the economy of the town. From the late 1970s—and well before the end of the Cold War—Loch Broom became the base for up to 60 Russian and East European ‘Klondykers’ between August and January each year. 

These were factory ships whose role was to process mackerel caught by smaller fishing boats, with the product being transferred to refrigerated vessels for return to home markets. The ‘Klondykers’ are no longer a feature of Loch Broom, but for many years their crews added a very cosmopolitan air to Ullapool's streets. Today Ullapool remains home to a number of more locally based fishing boats. 

The town is also the main terminus for the  ferryto  Stornoway t  he largest settlement and administrative centre of the Outer Hebrides, on the east coast of the Isle of Lewis so the MV Loch Seaforth is a frequent visitor. The ferry offices have recently moved to the attractive new building on the pier, but the vehicle waiting area remains the remarkably effective arrangement of concentric lanes right in the heart of the town opposite the ferry berth. In 2009 the ferry began to operate seven days per week: until then there had been no Sunday service. Another regular caller is the small cruise ship  Hebridean Princess  . 

 

 

Ullapool harbour

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No Simple Passage
No_Simple_Passage 
The Journey of the "London" and her passengers from England to New Zealand in 1842. Thomas & Susannah Chamberlain, together with their four children sailed aboard the London on this voyage to Port Nicholson. The author is Jenny Robin Jones a descendant of one of the passengers. The book was published in 2011 by Random House ISBN 978 1 86979 510 8
Wiltons Galore
Wiltons_Galore 

The Pioneer Story of Robert Wilton and Elizabeth Denman from Montacute, Somerset, England and continued through their children and grand-children in New Zealand. Mary Wilton married Arthur Joseph Chamberlain, and this is the story & record of her family.
This book was compiled by descendant Jo Wilton and published in 2007 by Colin Watson & Colin Liddell
ISBN 978 0 473 11318 6

Petticoat Pioneers
Petticoat Pioneers 

Stories of New Zealand's North Island women of the colonial pioneering era compiled and recorded for us by author Miriam Macgregor. Two of the women featured in this book are Susannah Catherine (Bull) Chamberlain and her daughter -in-law (Catherine McKenzie) Kitty Chamberlain.
This book was published in 1973 by A.H.& A.W. Reed, Wellington, New Zealand.
ISBN 0 589 00771 8

Paddy the Wanderer
Paddy the Wanderer 

The true story of an Airedale dog who captured the heart of the city of Wellington during the dark days of depression. Also captured here is Paddy's association with Blue Taxicab manager, Merlin Chamberlain. The author is Dianne Haworth, a dog-lover and editor of Animal's Voice, who lives and works in Auckland.
The book was published in 2007 by HarperCollins NZ.
ISBN 978 1 86950 625 4

On the Trail of
Parker & Walker
Families

Parker-Walker Families

This 2015 self-published family history has been put together by Marjorie Prictor on the trail of Parker and the Walker families who came to New Zealand in the 1860s. Marjorie is a descendant still living in the Northland district of Port Albert where each of these families settled.

Douglas Family Reunion
1843-1981
Douglas-Reunion

A family history of the Douglas Family in Australia, compiled in 1981 for a family reunion by sisters Grace Douglas & Rosalie Vanstan of Bendigo, Victoria.
Downloadable as file-093 from the Supplements Page.