Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stromeferry - Part 6

Part 1 here.

Before picking up the story from Part 5, here's an interesting snippet about the Strome Ferry I've found in the interim in Black's Picturesque Tourist of Scotland published in 1869 (just before the railway got to Stromeferry in 1870) and available on Google Books:-

"Strome Ferry is nearly a quarter of a mile broad, and the ferry boat being but a large cobble [a wide-beamed, flat-bottomed boat] into which horses have to leap from the pier, it is far from being either a safe or an easy means of transit for horses unaccustomed to such work.* ... Boats can be hired from Strome Ferry [here referring to the north terminus] to Plockton, from which there is a short cut to Kyle Akin, Skye. Port Chulan, where there is a small inn, is the name of the landing place on the Lochalsh side of Loch Carron from which there is a steep ascent of about two miles.

*Rates chargeable at Strome Ferry: 1 horse and 1 man, 1s.; 1 man, 6d.; 2 men, 3d. each; 3 men, 2d. each; 1 horse and 1 two-wheeled vehicle 2s 6d.; two horses and four-wheeled vehicle, 5s. The rates at Dornie and Totaig ferries are much the same as those at Strome."

I was particularly intrigued by the reference to the south terminus being called "Port Chulan". Modern maps mark a cluster of houses called "Portchullin" about a mile west of the south terminus of the ferry.

I suspect what may have happened is that Port Chulan (Portchullin) was originally the name of the south terminus of the ferry, a place where there was an inn before the railway arrived in 1870. But when the railway arrived, it was renamed "Stromeferry" (rather as "Kyle Akin Ferry" was renamed "Kyle of Lochalsh" when the railway got there in 1897). Meanwhile, the Ordnance Survey were a bit out of the loop about this railway "re-branding" and, refusing to believe that "Portchullin" had been simply abolished, reallocated the name to the nearest available settlement.

That may sound a bit of a tall tale, but I can well believe it's plausible in the days when English speaking Ordnance Survey personnel may have been pretty vague about the place information being given them by Gaelic speaking locals. Anyway, below is what Portchullin looks like today:-

Picture credit Dave Fergusson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Either that or the authors of Picturesque Tourist were talking out of a hole in their you-know-wheres so perhaps best I return to the safer ground of the ferry in the next chapter (which I can't promise will be the last either!)

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