Tag Archives: chemical work


Audio cassette recording of Hugh MacLean of Barrapol talking to Maggie Campbell in October 1999.

Hugh MacLean of Barrapol talks to Maggie Campbell in October 1999 about his boyhood and schooling at Sgoil na Mòintich, his work on the farm, a spell in the Merchant Navy and 40 years as clerk to Tain Committee, old burial places, old farming methods using horses, harvesting, changes in the weather, planting potatoes, Tiree-made shoes, storms and tornadoes, New Year festivities, whisky, the Glassary and Curtis-Stanford. Tha Iain Aonghais a’ bruidhinn ri Magaidh Chaimbeul anns an Dàmhair 1999 mu na daoine agus àiteachan ann agus mun cuairt Cill Moluaig, feum crotail airson aodach a dhath gu dearg, diofrach thobhtaichean mun cuairt Loch Bhasapol far am b’ àbhaist bradan agus bric a bhi, mac fear-uasal Dhòmhnall ’IcIllEathain a bha na fhear-brathaidh airson an Ruis, mar a fhuair ‘An Green’ ainm, na cathaidhean gainmhaiche a b’ àbhaist a bhi ann, uisge air a tharraing a tobraichean, ag obair air na croitean le eich, a’ cur coirce, neipean agus buntàta, a’ toirt sìol don mhuilinn ann an Còrnaig agus cion nan daoine far an robh iad uaireigin gu math lìonmhor.


Photocopied estimate of costs dated 11/3/1862 from William D. Young & Co to John L. Stewart.

Estimate of costs of building an iron kelp drying shed dated 11/3/1862 from William D. Young & Co to John L. Stewart. (Bundle 1542)


Johnny MacKay of Balephuil

Photograph of Johnny MacKay of Balephuil transporting tangles with a donkey and cart in 1957.


Courtesy of Mr Alan Boyd

Morton Boyd photographed Johnny MacKay of Am Bail’ Ur in Balephuil in 1957 transporting dried kelp, known as tangles, with a donkey and cart. The tangles would be sent each year to the mainland for processing into alginates which are widely used to thicken food and size cloth.

Seaweed has also been used from the earliest times as animal fodder, for medicinal use, for human consumption – a milk pudding made from carrageen is still widely eaten on Tiree – and as a fertiliser for hay meadows and particularly for potatoes.

Crofters collecting seaweed divided the shoreline between them but occasionally disputes arose. As late as 1914 the Land Court had to adjudicate between crofters in Caoles, one of whom was ‘only allowed to take seaweed from the boundary of Ruaig to Ardeas until Old St. Patrick’s Day’ while his neighbour had free access to the beaches.

Black and white photograph of Johnny MacKay in 1957.

Johnny MacKay of Bail` Ur, Balephuill, collecting dry tangles in 1957.


Calum and Archibald Lamont

Photograph of Calum and Archibald Lamont burning tangles at Cornaigmore in the 1930s.


Courtesy of Mr Archie MacKinnon

Calum and Archibald Lamont are pictured here burning kelp, known as tangle, near Clachan at Cornaigmore in the 1930s. The cooled ash cakes were collected the next morning, bagged and stored in byres until collected by puffer.

There have been three phases in the island’s kelp industry: burning the seaweed for alkalis in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; for producing iodine in the second half of the 19th century; and for alginates in the 20th century.

In the 1980s and 1990s six part-time collectors worked the beaches of the island, lifting storm-cast kelp from the high tide mark. Around 10-25 tons of the dried seaweed was taken each year from Tiree to Girvan where it was processed into alginates used in the food, pharmaceutical, textile and cosmetic industries.

Black and white photograph of Calum and Archie Mor Lamont, Cornaigmore.

Calum and Archie Mor Lamont of Cornaigmore burning tangles in 1932.