After running away to sea at the age of thirteen, my Grandfather, Samuel Bartlett, worked his way from cabin boy, to becoming the U.K.’s youngest master mariner when he was twenty two.
While he was the Skipper of a mine sweeper, he docked in Glasgow and at some point, met Mary Stewart. Mary was from a Gaelic speaking Benbecula family who was working in Glasgow as a Primary School teacher. The couple married in 1917.
My Grandfather was away at sea when their first baby, Gregor, was born. They decided Sam shouldn’t go to sea again and that he should in fact qualify to be a doctor. So, after the war, they moved to Liverpool where Sam managed a timber mill and started his medical training.
In late 1925 or early 1926, when my father, Calum was six months old, they moved from Liverpool to Benbecula, where my Grandpa had got his first medical practice. Leaving Benbecula in 1931, the family moved to the Isle of Barra, at the tip of the Outer Hebrides. My father was 6 years old when he, his mother, father, older brother and sister moved to the doctor’s house in Castlebay.
Dad, along with my Uncle Gregor, also qualified as doctors. Dad worked in Glasgow and then joined the army as a medical captain and was based in Egypt and then in Greece. While in Athens, he met and became engaged to Alice Ritchie.
In 1952 my father moved to Ash Vale in Surrey where my Grandpa had bought a general practice and where Gregor was also now based.
The three Doctor Bartletts opened another branch surgery in Frimley Green, where my father, and his Irish bride, Alice Ritchie had moved. This is where myself and my five siblings were born and brought up.
The Bartletts went on family holidays to Barra each summer as the family grew, until all six kids, Mum, Dad and various cousins all descended on Barra every August. My Dad partnered with Barra resident, Gerard Campbell, and in 1969 founded Hebridean Cottage Holidays.
They did up old crofts, often just four walls, and built wonderful houses. At its peak, H.C.H. had six cottages to rent on the island. In these cottages my family and extended family, would stay. 1969 we all sailed to Barra from Mallaig, on board the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, the Iona. I got this photo from the Caledonian MacBrain website.
My Dad was a keen photographer and captured some wonderful scenes and moments from those holidays. He used a Voigtlander SLR camera and 35mm film..
Recently my sister in law scanned these slides and saved the pictures. I think they are amazing and I hope other people do too.
These are from that summer in 1969.
That’s me in the red cords and my Mum in the blue polo-neck by the way…
My brother Michael.
Mum with the six of us kids, round the coast along from Castlebay. The chimney in the sea is the remains of the glue factory which once stood on that very small Island we are facing.
Click here for the photos from 1970
Enjoyed reading this and love the photos. Barra is my very favourite holiday destination. It is a wonderful place. Thank you for sharing.
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Thanks very much Lesley. I will be posting from 1970 to 1976 over the coming weeks. My Dad passed away three years ago but I’m sure he would have been delighted with the reaction his photos have been getting!
I am enjoying all your photos. I am sure that your Father would be delighted that so many people are enjoying his photos.xx
I remember Calum and Alice Bartlett well – not just from their time in Barra but England too. We used to visit quite regularly when I was a child and I loved it! There were always numerous animals to pet, most notably a drawer full of baby bunny rabbits!!!
Haha! Those rabbits…..! Thanks Catriona.
These are such lovely photos. It’s almost like a time capsule! In that first picture what was the litte boy doing with the rope?
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I’m not sure!
Wonderful pictures. Somewhere I have a picture of your parents and my parents at Eoligarry jetty. I will try and find it. Amongst your family pictures, that is an amazing picture of the Manse which is currently undergoing a total renovation.
I wonder if anyone can help me. I was in Barra last week with friends who go every year and got chatting to locals who know them. I said that I worked in the bank for a week around 1970 and remembered a large hotel out of Castlebay with a grass roof. Nobody remembered, I asked a few locals and they said there was never such a hotel. I’m sure there was, can anyone help me. Iainlittle1950@btinternet.com
Glass or grass??? Are you thinking of the Isle of Barra Hotel? Not a glass roof, but the sitting room and cocktail bar had large expanses of glass. If it was a grass roof you had probably been smuggled into a local bothy : )
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