Tag Archives: Isle of Tiree

The ghost of the Oceana rises again

oceana wreck image

As the ghostly timbers surfaced above the wet sand, memories of the 1949 stranding of a boat in unusual circumstances came back to haunt one of Tiree’s beaches last week.

Sheena and Charlie Berlie, Crossapol, were among the first people to notice the curve of iron ribs made visible by the low tides and force of the waves half way along the beach at the spring low tide mark.

The Oceana, a two masted schooner, was on passage between Ireland and the Baltic in March 1949 when a southerly storm blew the vessel onto Tràigh Bhàigh, now more commonly known as Crossapol Beach (as Crossapol has grown and Baugh shrunk).

Early that morning the local coastguard crew, led by Murdoch Cameron, Balevullin and Alec MacLean, Hough, were called. The boat was grounded over a hundred yards out and the beach party had to fire a rocket to the stricken vessel to allow the bosun’s chair to be used. The crew of around six were winched ashore. One observer remembers their “backsides dipping in the waves”.
The captain came ashore last, with his “cap glued to his head!” according to Archie Brown, Kilkenneth, the only surviving member of the coastguard team. The crew were taken to the Crossapol Hall and seemed to have left the island the next day.

The Oceana, 105 feet long, had been built in 1879 as a private yacht. At her prow she had a striking figurehead of a woman blowing a pipe. Engines were installed in 1923. Reasons for the boat’s grounding were hotly debated at the time. Some people said that the skipper had been confused by the lights on the aerodrome and was making for them. Others were sure the crew were drug smuggling. As the crew were Russian or Latvian, it is unlikely we will ever find out!

To see the remains, go to the centre of the beach at very low tide, park next to the war time huts and then walk 100 yards towards Crossapol.

Tiree Trust Update

Trust directors are pleased to announce the appointment of Andy Wright as our new Finance and Governance officer. Andy’s roots are on Tiree, and he is looking forward to moving here with his wife Hannah and 12 week old baby daughter. Andy’s post, like Ann’s post as development manager, is funded by the Big Lottery as part of the Harvesting the Wind Award the Community received in 2008 (Sophie’s position is very generously funded by the Robertson Trust, while Lynne’s post is funded by HIE).


November was another very good month for Tilley, generating 232 MWh, which takes the total for the year to date to over 2100 MWh, still ahead of our projections. We will be holding a public open day/evening in mid or late Jan to launch the Windfall Fund. This will also be an opportunity for you to tell Lynne what you want to be included in the new Community Development Plan. We are delighted that TREL has received the 2010 Scottish Renewable Energy Award for Best Community Initiative. This was for “an initiative that has been lead and developed by a community and which supports renewables development in Scotland”. We beat a very strong field of candidates including projects lead by Balfour Beattie and NPower. We should all be very proud that TREL voluntary directors have got national recognition for all the hard work they put into making Tilley such a success as a beacon not just for Tiree but for other communities.


This week we have had the final night of Ch@ Room. We had a Christmas themed evening with games and Christmas challenges. We also served tasty turkey and cranberry toasties! I managed to secure a much appreciated grant of £300 from ACHA. The young people also raised £60 at the craft fair. This money will be used for new equipment for the Ch@ Room. Ch@ Room will commence again in January 2011. Next Wednesday (8th) is the final night of Youth Club. The youth Club is having a snowman drive and a fantastic Raffle. All funds raised are for youth Club! Show your support by coming along and joining in the fun. For more information or to volunteer for any of the youth groups on the island don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at sophie@tireetrust.org.uk


At the time of writing the Tiree Array developers, Scottish Power Renewables, were due on Tiree for a meeting with the Trust. We will update you on anything new we have learned from that meeting. Also at the time of writing, Lloyd Gudgeon was due to attend a meeting in Glasgow with the Scottish Government, The Crown Estate, Argyll & Bute Council and SPR, to formally demand that the Tiree Community becomes part of the process which directs the design of the Array and considers whether or not it should receive permission to go ahead. We will update you on the outcomes of that meeting. Meanwhile on Tiree, the Forum continues to put together a picture of the likely impact of the Array, should it go ahead. To help with this, Sam Bouchnak has joined the team. He will be concentrating on providing the Forum with support in the run up to a public presentation in February. There is another survey out there trying to get your opinions on what the Array might mean for us. This survey is being run by Argyll Renewable Communities, which is made up of the communities of Tiree, Islay and Kintyre, all of which are facing potentially close offshore windfarms. The survey can be found at
and you can find more details on a separate article in this paper. We want to collect as many responses as possible so that when we talk to government about our concerns we can not be accused of representing only a small number of local people or specialist interests. Please do take 10 minutes to fill out the questionnaire. Paper versions are available from the office.

Tiree Welcomes HMS Sturdy Families

HMS sturdy ceremony

The sound of the waves, driven by the storm of the night before, onto the gravel beach in Sandaig mingled with the playing of the Tiree Pipe Band. We gathered around the new memorial to HMS Sturdy as the rising wind showed us a glimpse of the fury felt by the sailors seventy years before.

HMS Sturdy ceremony

The service, led by the Revds Peter Williams and Bruce Neill, was attended by around eighty people – three families of the crew (one had come from New South Wales to be there) alongside families from the township who had done so much to look after the exhausted men, representatives from the coastguard and Commodore Charles Stevenson who was representing the Royal Navy.

A special wreath was laid at the cairn to honour the work of Captain Donald ‘Dan’ Sinclair, Greenhill, who had instructed the crew to wait on board until low tide and had saved many lives as a result.

After the service we left to go to Soroby graveyard where we laid wreaths on the graves of the five sailors who drowned that day, as well as honouring the dead of the air forces who are also buried there. Tea was provided at An Talla and this gave a welcome chance to get out of the weather and swap stories about the Sturdy. There was also a huge display of items from the war from the collection of Mike Hughes.

At night Mike gave an illustrated talk on the impact of the war on the Hebrides, bringing his usual passion to the subject, and some stories. Apparently potatoes from the Sturdy stores have been grown in Middleton until recently. The families who had come for the event left the island full of memories, both happy and sad. Then Monday saw a huge storm batter the island, giving a taste of what it must have been like on that fateful day.

Thank you to everyone who supported the weekend, which had been initiated by Mike Gibson and organised locally by An Iodhlann.

Tiree Remembers HMS Sturdy

HMS Sturdy

“It was a Thursday, I remember it well. Willie got up – he heard something moving outside, something being blown by the wind…This would be about 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning. It was quite a rough morning and it was raining. I would call it force 9-10, a severe gale… Just before we got down there we could make out it was a naval vessel – the paint, the colour, you see. There were a lot of people there; you’d hear “Help!” [The wreck] would be about 60 yards from the gravel beach on the rocks out there. I remember – I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional – the first thing we met there, a body, a beautiful, young fellow. I picked him up and took him beyond the reach of the ocean and put him on the grass”

– the late Hugh MacLean, Barrapol.

Tiree had seen its fair share of wrecks driven ashore, but the scene on the rocks off Sandaig at first light on October 30th 1940 brought home the sickening reality of the Second World War. A Royal Navy destroyer broken in two, beaten up onto the oil soaked beach with scores of stunned sailors sheltering from the storm and five bodies left behind by the tide.

I was not able to walk very well because I had cut my feet on the rocks but the islanders seemed suddenly to appear…I was taken to a cottage where the people were very kind, my clothes were dried and I had a hot bath. I fell asleep exhausted in a beautiful bed.

– Leading Seaman Harry Springett, from the Sturdy

To honour the five seamen who lost their lives and to remember the great kindness the islanders showed to the shipwrecked sailors, a memorial has been built above the beach in Sandaig where the ship hit the rocks. 70 years, to the day, after the tragedy this memorial will be dedicated at a service on Saturday 30th October at 2pm. Relatives of the crew, along with Commodore Charles Stevenson, CBE, (Naval Regional Commander, Scotland and Northern Ireland), families of the islanders who showed such kindness to the seamen and the Tiree pipe band will be there.

After the ceremony there will be another short service in Soroby Cemetry to lay wreaths on the graves of those who lost their lives. Afterwards there will be teas at An Talla at 4pm where everyone will be welcome to meet the visitors.

In the evening at 7.30 Mike Hughes will give an illustrated talk on Tiree during the Second World War in An Talla (the last talk Mike gave at the Fèis was a sell-out! Be there early).

The memorial has been built by Bernie Smith and Sons and organised by Cmdr Mike Gibson, the son of the Sturdy’s chief engineer. The committee of An Iodhlann hopes the island will support this historic day.

Do you have anything salvaged from the Sturdy or connected with it? If so, we would love to borrow it for the evening of the 30th October. We plan to have a table of things from the wreck at Mike Hughes’ evening talk.

Please contact Dr John.

Tiree Community Trust Update

“These are exciting and challenging times for the Trust and Tiree”

The Trust welcomes two new members of staff this month. The posts attracted a lot of interest and there was strong competition for both positions.

Ann Kirby will be taking over as Trust Development Manager and Lynne MacKinnon as Local Development Officer. Lloyd Gudgeon is moving into a new role for the Trust as its Strategic Development Liaison Officer. Lloyd will now concentrate entirely on lobbying with government, the Council and SPR to ensure that Tiree’s needs and concerns are central to any development of the Tiree Array. This is a separate post from the one advertised by SPR in the last issue of An Tirisdeach. Trish O’Neil continues as Finance and Governance Officer and Sophie Isaacson as Youth Worker.

These are exciting and challenging times for the Trust and Tiree and we are fortunate to have such a strong team on board. Ann has been a director of TREL since 2006 as well as being a co-opted director of the Trust. She was instrumental in delivering Tilley, the community wind turbine for Tiree. She is a Chartered Accountant, qualified for over 20 years, as well as Vice Chair of Community Energy Scotland. Ann’s home number at Balemartine is 755. Lynne was born and brought up on Tiree and has been looking for the right opportunity to come back to live on Tiree. Her work leaves her job as In Flight Trainer for Loganair to return home. Lynne sees this role as an exciting opportunity to be a part of developing the future of the Island and working within the community.

All staff can be contacted on the office number 220074 or by email tireetrust{@}tireebroadband.com

Turbine update

September was a cracking month and Tilley produced 334 MWh, 40% over the prediction for the month. This was also after nearly 5 days of down time because of a technical issue, scheduled maintenance and training. This takes us 244 MWh above the expected output for the period 27 March to end of September, which gives us a cushion to cover unexpected downtime or calm periods.

October has started even better: 114 MWh in the first 5 and half days. Tuesday 5th was a red letter day, generating over 22 MWh. The wind hit 32 m/s or 70 mph at 4.20pm with an average speed of 19 m/s (43 mph) for the whole day! This week is Wave Classic so we all know what that means, flat calm.

We are still waiting for the first Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments to come through but these are expected shortly. These payments are guaranteed for the next 20 years and are based on how much Tilley produces each quarter. We also receive payment for the electricity exported to the Grid. Once these payments start to come in and the initial costs are covered, TREL hopes to be able to make its first payment to the Trust before the end of the year.

The Trust will be launching the Windfall Fund in the next few weeks. Please look out for more information in An Tirisdeach and posters around the Island.


The Trust’s website is being updated with a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), which we hope will help to keep people informed. There should also be the ARC monthly reports in full, along with records of the Tiree Array Forum meetings.

Youth Worker

Sophie has started the Duke of Edinburgh award group Monday 3.30pm at the school. There are already 10 keen members who are planning what to do for their bronze award. After the holidays this is moving to Wednesday evening.

The P1-4 Saturday morning club has been advertised and we’re still looking for a few more volunteers to commit to helping out. We really do need a couple more for this to go ahead. Please get in touch if you can help.

Sophie is also investigating the possibility of setting up a Sailing Club. We would like to know how many young people on the Island are interested in learning how to sail and taking part in races or sailing activities.

Tiree Array

This has been a busy time. The date for SPR to submit its detailed plans is getting ever nearer: they hope to be ready to ask for planning permission in early 2012.

We are concentrating our efforts on lobbying to be included in the planning process so we can influence decisions and so try to ensure that Tiree’s interests are covered.

SPR recently held public information days on Coll and Tiree. The event here on 23rd September was well attended, SPR estimate over 70 people during the day. They’ve reported they felt the day was useful, with lots of queries and general discussion from people who have previously been unable to attend meetings or join the Forum.

We are encouraging SPR to hold more of these days as soon as more information is available. Whilst the project is by no means certain to go ahead, with or without the Community’s support, these events are good opportunities to come along and talk directly to the people involved.


The Tiree Array Forum has been working hard to uncover as much information as possible about offshore windfarms and their impacts on local communities. This information is fed back to the Trust. We still have very little detailed information about what the Tiree Array will look like or its impact upon us, but we hope that the work of the Forum will go some way towards identifying the likely outcomes.


Argyll Renewable Communities (ARC) has responded to the SPR scoping document, raising a number of the concerns that the Trust raised in its own response.
In addition, ARC has written to the Scottish Government with concerns over its draft plan for development of offshore waters.

ARC is currently working on collecting case study information from 12 offshore sites in order to draw a picture of what happens elsewhere. We will be able to use this information when they have completed the work. ARC will meet with senior officials in Argyll & Bute Council to push for communities’ involvement in the planning process around the Array developments.

Reid & Hay Welcome Fuel Duty Cut

Alan ReidAlison Hay

Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll & Bute, and Alison Hay Scottish Parliamentary Candidate welcomed the announcement by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, that a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty would be piloted in the Inner & Outer Hebrides and the Northern Isles, subject to agreement from the European Union.

Alan Reid said:
“This cut in fuel duty will help the fragile economies of the Argyll Islands. I have long campaigned for a reduction in fuel duty in remote communities. If the pilot is a success, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t, the scheme should be extended to the Clyde Islands and remote communities in mainland Argyll”

Alison Hay said:
“This would be a tremendous boost to the economy in Argyll & BUte. We have so many island communities that depend on the use of private vehicles for travel and this will help keep the cost of living in these communities down. I hope that the scheme could be moved quickly on by the EU and that it could be extended to include remote mainland areas in the future.”

A similar scheme operates in France, Portugal and Greece, so the EU should have no objection to its introduction here. Here on Tiree, the price of a litre of diesel is 142p and petrol 140p compared to the national average of 118p and 115.2p respectively.

Roots Looks To Grow On First Year Success

roots design workshop

We have been celebrating our first year in practice with a series of awards and the launch of a travelling exhibition.

Roots Design Workshop, our mobile architectural + environmental design practice, pitched our business to on-line Dragons Den star Shaf Rasul on Thursday. This was after we were selected as one of the most promising entrepreneurial businesses in the country. The practice has also been short-listed for a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award. This means we are in the running to win a £1000 prize.

We also held a workshop this weekend at the Scottish Housing Expo in Inverness. This involved hosting ‘design surgeries’, where members of the public could approach the team for free advice about building projects they had. The workshop also involved an exhibition of the projects developed during Roots’ first year in practice. These included a range of proposals for domestic new-build and extensions, and energy efficiency upgrades to existing buildings on Tiree. This was an exciting opportunity for us to show our work on a national scale.

We expect over one thousand members of the public to see our work during the course of the Expo, which has been called the single most important architecture and design event to take place in Scotland for the past decade. We plan to tour this exhibition around remote communities during the rest of the summer before presenting to the Power of Place conference in Shetland this September.

Roots encourage members of the public to vote for them in the Shell LiveWIRE Awards at www.shell-livewire.org

Micheal Holliday

Accidental death of young falcon

peregrine falcon

Recent reports in some newspapers regarding the death of a young Peregrine Falcon have caused concern here on Tiree.

A visitor to the Island, staying with relatives, found the bird dead at the foot of an electrical pole in their garden and called John Bowler, the RSPB Officer, who, as Peregrine Falcons are protected informed the Tiree Constable, Steven Tanner. The body of the bird was sent to a Veterinary Pathologist in Edinburgh to determine the exact cause of death and as sometimes happens before the facts are known, rumours started that the bird had been shot, possibly with a hand gun.

The Post Mortem found that the Falcon had suffered “superficial trauma to the right side of its head and blunt trauma to its body – actual cause of death was a ruptured liver”. It appears that the youngster had flown into the pole, banging its head and the consequential fall to the ground caused the fatal injury. This had nothing to do with a shooting and unfortunately it is not unusual for young Peregrines to meet their death in this manner as they learn to fly and hunt for themselves.

There was no evidence of the bird being shot but a full toxicology report is being carried out. Unlawful killing of a Peregrine Falcon carries a fine of up to £40.000 and up to 6 months in prison.

Wedding Congratulations

Wayne Clark and his bride Elaine Connolly were married recently in Heylipol by the Rev Robert Higham.

The couple held their afternoon reception in An Talla and later Wayne said:
”I’d like to thank Josie and her helpers for putting on such a good meal at such short notice.”

Wayne’s grandmother was born on Tiree before marrying a seriviceman and he is related to Neil ”the Beeler” Macarthur. The couple now live in Oakley, Fife, and plan to continue to visit the island as often as possible.

1 19 20 21