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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 19th January 2002
Issue No 266

City's Forgotten Treasure Locked Away

A colourful part of Inverness's history will not be brought out of cold storage to decorate the city's Eastgate II development - despite a decades old understanding it would rise again.

The stunning stained glass rose window, which formed part of the former Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at the corner of Inglis Street and Hamilton Street, was removed intact when the building was demolished decades ago. Former burgh councillor and local historian Hector Macdonald said that at the time the present redevelopment of the former auction mart's site was already being talked about. "It was envisaged that the window would be incorporated in the new shopping centre when it was built." he said. "But things went very quiet and Invernessians have been asking me what has become of the window and if it is going to be included in the new Eastgate Centre." Enquiries by a local newspaper revealed that the window is still in storage at Highland Council's depot in Diriebught Road. But the sad news is that it will not see the light of day in the new retail unit. Lynne Webster, project architect of Hurd Rolland, who have designed the centre for developers Sun Alliance, said the matter was raised by local historians when planning applications for the complex were submitted in 1999 and again in 2000. "My understanding is it was agreed by both planners and the applicants that it would not be appropriate in this setting," she said. "The window is such that it needs to be illuminated from both sides so it can be seen and that could not be achieved." Council conservation architect John Duncan confirmed the window is still in storage at the council depot and there are no plans for its future. "I am disappointed to hear this and think it's an opportunity missed. But if it's still intact at least that's some consolation." said Hector. "But I think the reason being given for it not being included in the development is somewhat questionable. "It's the type of window which would be illuminated on the inside by natural daylight and from the outside by artificial lighting at night." Although from an ecclesiastical building, the window does not depict any religious scene and Hector says for this reason it was felt it could be incorporated in the new complex. "The chapel was opened in 1868 and the Methodists moved to Union Street in 1922," he said. "The building had a number of uses including Stewart's restaurant and when it was demolished as part of a road widening project it was a bookmakers." He recalled the council paid 3000 to have the rose window preserved in a specialised metal frame and stored in a timber crate. "This was council taxpayers' money and it's a shame that nothing has been done to find somewhere to accommodate the window. "Too often in the past, pieces of Inverness history have been lost and I wouldn't like the same to happen to this window which was familiar to many old Invernessians." He cited Forbes fountain which was put into storage after road widening works. The top of the fountain had disappeared by the time it was re-erected at the entrance to the Ness Islands. And the three statues of Faith, Hope and Charity which were removed from the top of a building at the corner of Castle Street and the High Street in the mid 1950s are now in a museum in Orkney. "The council agreed to allow the statues to be removed by anyone who would take them away at no cost to the council," he claimed. "They were familiar local landmarks and should never have been removed but an antique dealer from Kirkwall took them to Orkney and made them the centre piece of his museum collection. "Inverness District Council tried to buy them back in 1995 but they were told they were not for sale at any price. "It's very sad that pieces of Inverness history are being lost like this and I hope somewhere can be found for the rose window in future developments, and perhaps the new bus station might be one possibility."

Mine Visitor Attraction

An underground movement is at work in a Highland community to help boost its visitor attractions. The villagers at Lochaline on the remote Morvern Peninsula want to create a major heritage attraction focused around its silica sand mines. A maze of tunnels, some more than a mile in length, feed out beneath the rugged landscape overlooking the Sound of Mull. Now Morvern Community Development Co, working alongside Tarmac and Ardtornish Estate, which owns the mines, is investigating establishing a visitor centre. They want to utilise now disused tunnels, create a museum and provide interpretation facilities along with parking, barbecue and picnic areas. Angus Robertson, estate factor and chairman of the development company, an offshoot of Morvern Community Council, said: "It is at a very early stage but the broad remit is to provide a tourist attraction and, hopefully, encourage people to stay longer in the area." The company is in discussion with officials of Lochaber Enterprise and is seeking funding to enable a feasibility study to be carried out. "It is an exciting project and the enterprise company is very keen about the idea," he said. Opened in the 40s, the mine provided silica sand for military purposes after a previous source in Belgium was lost. It is the purest silica sand mined in Britain, and is used in the manufacture of fine crystal and other specialist glass, and also for silicon carbide and domestic and chemical ovenware.

Internet Boost for North

Almost 60 communities across Scotland, including many in the North, have been given a computer with Internet access as part of the UK wide BT Community Connections award scheme. It aims to connect local groups to the worldwide web while encouraging them to use technology to help improve community life. Three organisations from Thurso were among those which received computers. They included Skerray Hall Committee in Thurso, which provides and maintains a community hall used for training, educational, recreational and social activities. Two organisations in Stornoway also benefitted. The Newton and Sandwick Community in Stornoway will use the award to generate a joint community newsletter and provide computer training to those who do not have direct access, while the Breasclete Community Association plan to set up a database to monitor the use of facilities and set objectives to promote new opportunities for wider community use. The Appin Community Computer Group near Oban aims to widen the horizons of its small community through creating a website to encourage tourism in the area and allow schoolchildren to use it for homework.

Far Flung Scots

People of Scottish ancestry living throughout the world will be able to register birth, marriages and deaths in Edinburgh, it was revealed recently. The proposal is included in plans to bring registrar systems into the 21st century, announced by the Registrar General of Scotland. For the first time, anyone with a Scottish connection will be able to arrange for a birth, death of marriage to be recorded at the General Register Office for Scotland in the nation's capital. This would allow their life events to be included as part of their family history records in Scotland. Local authorities are to develop family history search centres, so that anyone researching family backgrounds can get the information outside Edinburgh. Under the changes, the registration of births and deaths will be carried out anywhere in Scotland, not just at the place where the event occurred. Registrars will also carry out ceremonies to mark key events in life, such as baby naming, silver weddings or renewal of marriage vows. Registrar General for Scotland John Randall said: "I am delighted to announce these groundbreaking changes in civil registration in Scotland. It is vital we recognise the varied needs of Scottish citizens and make it more simple and more convenient. Many Scots live outside Scotland but still wish to have their life events included as part of their family history records in Scotland."

Arts Shortlist

A Highland dance choreographer has been shortlisted for a top arts award. Katrina McPherson of Newtonmore has written a video dance workbook on how to perform dance productions for the small screen. The workbook has got her on to the Scottish Arts Council's shortlist for Creative Scotland Awards next week. Of the 45 shortlisted 14 will win awards which will be announced on 24th January. Also on the shortlist are Doug Cocker of Dundee in visual arts, and Blair Douglas of Skye for the composition of music and text for a Gaelic mass. Alyth McCormack of Lewis is shortlisted for traditional music, and Kirriemuir's Mats Melin is shortlisted in dance. Traditional musician Hamish Moore of Dunkeld is also shortlisted, along with Michael O'Donnell of Thurso, who creates wooden vessels with local pupils. Kirriemuir playwright Don Paterson is shortlisted, along with Ian Stephens of Lewis and Catherine Seymour of Dundee who is involved in devising new dance works.

Was King Arthur a Scot?

A medieval manuscript which may prove that King Arthur was a Scot has gone on display in Scotland. Many Scottish historians have argued that the legendary monarch actually came from north of the border and they claim the manuscript Y Goddodin adds weight to their case. The manuscript was written in the 13th century from oral traditions passed down through the centuries and describes an epic battle fought by tribal warriors who lived in southern Scotland. The document contains the first known reference to Arthur and some historians argue it is proof the king was Scottish. The Scottish public is now being invited to examine the evidence after the Edinburgh Arts Centre secured the priceless document for an exhibition. The story of the battle, which took place near Catterick in Yorkshire around 600AD, was passed down as a spoken legend among the surviving Goddodin people. Historian Stuart McHardy says the reference to Arthur in Y Goddodin is proof he lived in southern Scotland. He said: "The fact that the Goddodin were familiar with Arthur's exploits shows he must have come from the same area - what we now know as Lothian and Borders. "It is important to understand that history at that time was spoken. The stories told had to take place in an environment the people were familiar with. "The other point is that an oral history can only be shared by people who speak the same language." Mr McHardy said the Goddodin spoke an early form of Welsh and when some of the tribes later moved south to Wales, they took their stories with them. He said: "The stories of the great Celtic hero King Arthur which were said to take place in Wales, England and Northern France, actually originated in Y Gogledd - the Welsh name for what we now call Scotland."

Flying Squad of Sheep

A flock of flying sheep will soon be winging its way to the Highlands as part of a new Scotland wide grazing programme. The new flock is due to be unleashed in the Rahoy Hills, Morven, Argyll, just one of a number of sites across Scotland the animals will graze. The last few adjustments are being made to the flying programme, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, at the project's home base, in Fife. The project is a unique rotational grazing programme. Morag Boyd, who is the first shepherd to work for the trust, will be responsible for the purchase and management of the flying flock. She said: "My first task is to assemble my flock and I hope to have sheep grazing in reserves soon. "Initially the flying flock will be exclusive to the trust's Fife grasslands, but eventually we are hoping this mobile sheep force will go national." Andre Thiel, the trust's conservation manager for Fife said: "In the longer term, we hope Mrs Boyd's work with the flying flock will aid the trust in the development of new approaches to integrating conservation and commercial stock management and make a particularly valuable contribution to the management of the trust's upland agricultural reserves."

Charity Event

The Woodlands Alzheimer Centre in Inverness hosted a tea party with a difference recently for visitors from the Lentran Nursing Home. The nursing home residents presented a 100 cheque to the Woodlands Centre. The money had been raised through a number of events.

Political Roundup

MP Challenges SNP Over Potter Sites

A Tayside Labour MP has hit back at the SNP for criticising the British Tourist Authority for missing Scotland off a brochure exploiting the Harry Potter film success. Dundee East's Iain Luke said the film itself contained no Scottish references, but the BTA did include Potter related sites in Scotland by highlighting magical and mysterious sites like the Loch Ness Monster, Skye's Dunvegan Castle and Staffa's Fingal's Cave

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
A windy day. Plenty of showers in the W, with longer periods of rain later. Winds fresh/strong SW'ly. Tmeperature 7c to 9c.
Saturday Night
Rain in W will spread to all parts then turn showery. Winds fresh/strong S'ly. Temperature 4c to 8c.
Rain or showers for most parts but feeling mild for the time of year. Winds light and variable.
Remaining unsettled with occasional light showers and sunny spells. Cloud thickening later.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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