The summer of 2019 saw the 50th anniversary of the company my mother, father and Gerard Campbell set up in 1969; Hebridean Cottage Holidays.
My father, Dr. Calum Bartlett, took photos of our family holidays on Barra from 1969 – 1978, I have been posting them here regulary. Today I will complete the series with a few photos from 1978. I’m also going to run the complete series as one post, starting from 1969. I know Dad would have been tickled pink at the reaction these photos have been getting. He used to show them via his slide-shows at our house in Surrey every year before we headed off there on holiday. Whiskey and Martini flowed, guests and extended family were invited and stories were told and retold about certain photos to much hilarity.
An introduction and August 1969.
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 Voightlander SLR camera and 35mm film..
Recently my sister in law, Mary Thompson, 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…standing with Alec and Hilda.
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.
Here’s one of my favourite pictures of myself, taken by Dad on Vatersay. I remember not being keen on the long walk, but all these years later, I’m glad he pushed me on!
My family, with me on top of Mum! My brother Sam is missing from this photo – I’m guessing he took it.
My brother Michael.
My four brothers, Michael, Sam, Calum-Iain and Tom, half way up Heaval, a great shot of Kisimul Castle below.
This time my sister Catriona is missing, I’m guessing she’s the one on camera duty here.
Inside Kisimul Castle.
MacNeil of Barra himself.
My brother Calum-Iain.
On this walk, Dad wanted me to walk too far. I lay down and refused to go any further!
1970 looks like it was an absolutely fantastic summer. My Northern Irish cousins, Aunties and Uncles were there. So too were my Dad’s cousins’ Aunt Eileen and Dolina. It also involved a boat trip to Mingulay, which I’ll post separately.
Here’s a family picnic at one of the many glorious beaches on Barra – Tangusdale. My Mum sitting in-between two of her sisters, Sheila and Josephine.
My Uncle Dougie enjoying a quiet moment, sitting next to the Irish Ritchie sisters!
One of my favourite photos. Myself, my brother Tom and our Mum. I love her yellow cords.
The rocks on the right form the face of Queen Victoria…..!
This is one of the cottages my Dad had renovated to become Hebridean Cottage Holidays. This is at Leanish. I don’t know if it’s ready to be lived in yet. My brother Michael says he remembers working on it in Easter 1969. That’s all of my siblings but no me I think, looking ready for some sort of adventure!
My cousin Dolina.
Dolina and her mother, my Dad’s cousin, Aunt Eileen.
Me, my brother Sam, sister Catriona and cousin Paula on a trip to one of the small islands off Barra – Eriskay.
My mother’s sisters Josephine and Sheila.
This house is Taigh a’Ghobha just outside Balivanich in Benbecula and the old ladies are cousins – Efife Macmillan and her sister Joanne. This was the first house my Dad stayed in in the Hebrides and both he and my Auntie Catriona cited being carried to the door in a howling gale as their earliest memories!
This is another of my Dad’s cottages – Ault at Ersary.
This rock will forever be known as ‘Dolina’s Rock‘ after she used to sit and play guitar on it. My brother Tom and myself would love sitting there with her, listening and joining in!
Uncles Bill and Dougie, my mother’s brothers-in-law.
Here’s me, on ‘Dolina’s Rock‘, just outside the cottage at Ault / Ersary.
This cottage in fact.
My brother Tom, tide out at Ault.
My mother’s sisters Sheila and Josephine, with Sheila’s husband, Uncle Bill.
Auntie Sheila and Dad’s cousin, Aunt Eileen, dancing!
Anyone who knew my Mum would know she hated the sea. That fact makes this picture pretty funny. Mum at the helm of our boat.
The plane just landed on the beach. Our grandfather, Dr. Samuel Bartlett first had the idea to land planes here. It is still the island’s airport and I think the only airport to have it’s timetable dictated by the tide!
My Dad, Uncle Dougie (Josephine’s husband), myself and a few of my brothers.
Mingulay is a small island 12 miles south of Barra. There was a boat trip from Castlebay on Barra to go and visit the island. Mingulay is famed for its cliffs, sea birds and uninhabited houses. The last islanders left Mingulay in 1912.
My brother Michael recalls,
‘Trips to Mingulay were always wonderful. This is the Sgoilear Bàn’s gun bought from him by Dad. The Sgoilear Bàn was the last teacher on Mingulay. His name means Fair Haired Teacher.’
Here are the 1970 Mingulay photos, taken by my father.
My brother Michael
Dad and my brother Calum-Iain.
The last inhabitants left the island in 1912.
The wood panelled room was the church and the mark on the back was where the altar was, the priest lived downstairs I believe.
Michael, Calum-Iain and my sister Catriona.
August 1971 Barra plus surrounding smaller islands.
My Dad had a boat now and we took regular trips to the islands that surround Barra. Here are my brothers Calum-Iain and Sam rowing the boat – it did have an engine, but if (when) the engine broke down a slow row home was needed. I don’t know if that’s why they are at the oars in this photo or not…they look pretty happy which makes me think the engine is fine just not in use.
Here we are on the islands of Hellisay and Gighay. Tom has his yellow life jacket on as he points his toy gun. That’s me with the blonde hair.
As in 1970, a trip to Mingulay, this time just ourselves in my Dad’s boat. Here’s my brother Sam.
I love this photo, I’m not sure who the lone figure is, one of my brothers anyway.
Back on Barra. Sam had his friend Pete Neame stay with us on this holiday.
My brother Michael and our cousin Norman.
Our red mini-bus parked up at the beach. That’s how so many of us could travel up to Barra. Mum, in the yellow sweater trying to read while we play all around her.
This was one of the Hebridean Cottage Holidays cottages at Brevig, with the highest peak on Barra, Heaval, behind.
And this one on the right at Leanish.
Here’s Harbour Cottage at Earsary (or Ault as we always call it). This is the cottage we stayed at in 1971.
There were so many of us that we used my Dad’s old army bell-tent for the boys to sleep in! The roofless cottage on the other side of the bay has since been done up and is now called South Bank. These are now the only two cottages still owned and available to rent by Hebridean Cottage Holidays, set up by Dad, these days run by my brother Tom.
This old croft still had a roof a little entrance way in 1971. These days it is just four walls. Family friend, James MacCrae found and old Gaelic bible in this house.
A walk up the river Ault, the cottage getting smaller all the time….
My Dad, he obviously entrusted Calum Iain with the camera.
It was Dad’s birthday whenever we were on Barra. Someone had given him this little outfit to dress up his whisky bottle. He rested it on the boat engine for a photo shoot!
We had a small boat that was one of Dad’s passions when we were on Barra. On the first morning, we’d all go to where the boat had been mored over the winter – often at Moira Baird’s house in Skallary and carry her down to the sea – never very far away on Barra.
Dad would then spend the next few days going over every inch of the boat, repairing bits here and there. Varnishing wood and generally cleaning her up.
Once she was sea worthy and if the weather was kind, we’d go off on trips. Either to the near by surrounding islands, or just to bob up and down on the choppy sea a little while out, and fish.
Here we are on one such trip with Dad’s cousin, Donald Stewart.
And later celebrating, after a massive haul! We went round knocking on peoples’ doors saying ‘Free, fresh fish!’. My cousin Rory is wearing my Mum’s rather gorgeous trousers as his had got soaked on the trip.
Notice that jumper my brother is wearing?
Well, here I am in it. I have four older brothers so hand me downs for me were sometimes third -hand, via them. I did think these jumpers were great though. 1970s M&S at their best. So clever, it looks like you are wearing a polo neck under a V neck, but guess what? It’s only one jumper! We had them in several colours in our house. Brown and green are captured in some of these pictures, I definitely remember friends having a purple variant and being in little jealous.
We adored the boat.
Me looking rather stylish in this one with Mum, Dad and my brother Tom.
Aunt Eileen tying my Mum’s scarf for her. Perfectly normal Hebredian beachwear!
These are the two cottages at Horve, just outside Castlebay on Barra. When we stayed here it was always fantastic as cousins would take the other cottage so we were in and out of each others houses and there would be many parties. The parties were amazing. My Dad had grown up on the island and still knew lots of the islanders. My Dad’s cousins were regular visitors to Barra since their early childhood days and also had lots of friends there. The parties were always very lively; music and stories filled the air. Whiskey was flowing, the bagpipes playing. My Dad was a piper and would always be delighted if some of the pipers from the island would come and play too. These men took on a near mythical status for me, the respect with which Dad spoke of them. I was always slightly nervous round them but very happy as the parties got wilder as the night wore on. They’d be a gang of us cousins. About 10 of us still young enough to not be through with the adults. In 1972 that was the Nikitiks, the Stewarts and the Bartletts.
My Mum with cousins Aunt Eileen and Dolina. My brothers Calum-Iain and Tom.
There are no photos from 1973. We think that was the year Dad’s camera got ruined when he took it out in the boat and it got covered in sea water.
These photos are from May 1974 – as a family we always went on holiday to Barra in August, but this is the year Dad and Jock Andrews did up the small, South Bank Cottage at Earsary.
Here it is, bought as just four walls, an old croft and made habitable by Dad and Jock. This is still available to rent from my brother who now looks after Hebridean Cottage Holidays, originally set up by Dad and Gerrard Campbell in 1969
Here’s Jock outside the cottage.
The larger, Harbour Cottage, just opposite South Bank Cottage in Earsary. Also still available to rent!
The bay in-between the two cottages.
Dad among the primroses – he loved this time of year on Bara and took Mum, myself and my brother Tom back in May the following year to see the flowers.
Originally called the Isle of Barra Hotel – this must be the year or close to, that it opened. We used to call it ‘the I.O.B.’ now I see it has had a fabulous refurb and is called The Isle Of Barra Beach Hotel. It is just up from one of Barra’s many beautiful beaches, Tangasdale.
I think this fantastic, large house was in Eoligarry in Barra. No longer there I’m afraid.
These are from 1975, the jeans are getting wider and the hair is getting longer. Not for my Mum though. Here she is on one of the many wonderful beaches – this is as close to the water as she ever got! Cigarette in hand, all our belongings near her as we ran off to the sea…stylish duffle bags and plenty of towels – very much needed to try and warm up after a dip in the Atlantic!
Tom and Mum.
My brother Michael with an impressive beard for a 19 year old! He’s with his Aberdeen University friend Seamus Grant from Aviemore.
Michael again, this time with Murdo, holding a salmon caught at the mouth of the bay.
The famous Barra rock, it looks like the profile of Queen Victoria!
Tom with Harbour Cottage behind him (the one with a roof).
Father Calum who also taught at Salesian College in Farnborough.
I love this picture. It’s my Dad’s cousin, Aunt Eileen and her daughter Dolina. Always special times when they were on Barra with us.
We had a lot if fun with the boat that year. Aquaplaning and attempting to waterski. No mean feat in the icy-cold Hebridean sea.
Here we are on one of the gorgeous Vatersay beaches.
Just outside the bay at Earsary, near Harbour Cottage.
Me and my friend, Sheila. I think that’s my brother Calum Iain at the controls.
The evening view from Harbour Cottage, one of the best in the world I reckon.
We also had a little boat that we were allowed to row around the small bay. It was absolutely brilliant fun. Pulling in at the little islands, playing in the rock pools. Just rowing round and round.
The inside of Harbour Cottage. This is how I will always remember it. A half-finished bottle of Irn Bru and my Dad’s practice chanter on the kitchen table.
A trip to Sandray with friends, in their boat.
I can’t find any photos from 1977. These seem to be the last photos of that era, only a few from 1978. I am resplendent in my Umbra Scottish World Cup top and cut off denim shorts. Taken outside Harbour cottage with my Mum and Moira Baird.
In the still of the evening.
The two cottages at Horve, just outside Castlebay.
That’s it. I hope you have enjoyed looking at the wonderful photos my Dad took as much as I have enjoyed posting them and having many happy memories.