Outer Hebrides fishing is well represented within our collections, with the oldest known example of a Grimsay boat being one of the most iconic and significant survivals of the open boat era of Scottish fishing. However, the industry is largely represented by much smaller artefacts, like herring barrel stencils or bone net needle and again, many of these are made from recycled or ephemeral materials. Sheepskins were converted into floats for fishing nets and lobster creels. The creels themselves were woven at home from locally grown willow. Boats’ fenders were made from twisted straw rope, or from marram grass.
Models of the Muirneag and HMS Lively are nationally significant. The Muirneag was the last traditional “Zulu” – the most significant type of sailing vessel associated with the great years of the herring fishing industry. HMS Lively is associated with the Crofters’ War and the Napier Commission of the 1880s, events which shaped not only the settlement pattern of the islands but of the whole Scottish Highlands too.
Tasglann nan Eilean holds a set of blueprint drawings of the Muirneag done by Harold A Underhill.
We also hold a number of smaller boat models including local fishing boats as well as a Clyde Puffer which is currently on display in Stornoway. More recently we were gifted a model of the Maersk Winner by Captain Alastair Macarthur who trained at Lews Castle Technical College in preparation for a life in the merchant navy. Many young men from the islands also followed this route.
Below are samples from our collection.
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