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