Telegraphy on Lewis

1872 – Cable laid linking Stornoway to Scotland

Mary I Morrison, 19, Telegraphist, Daughter, Post Office Building, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Alex Fraser, 19, Telegraphist Card Server, Boarder, 44 Point Street, Stornoway, b. Gairloch
John Bruce, 40, Telegraph Linesman, Head, 1 ½ Francis Street, Stornoway, b. Clyne, Sutherland

1883 Evidence to Napier Commission regarding the importance of the Telegraph to the Fishing Industry

1886 – Cable laid linking Lewis/Harris to Uists

William Fowler, 34, Inspecting Telegraphist, Boarder, 7 South Beach, b. Banchory
John Grant, 21, Telegraphist, Son, 51 Bayhead Street, Stornoway, b. Barvas, Inverness-shire
Margaret Maciver, 28, Telegraphist, Daughter, Brick Works, Stornoway, b. Garrabost
Mary J Morrison, 27, Telegraphist, Daughter, 38 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Bella Morrison, 25, Telegraphist, Daughter, 38 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Murdo Morrison, 20, Telegraphist, Son, 38 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Marion Macleod, 15, Telegraphist, Daughter, 23 Portroller, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
James E Macaulay, 20, Telegraph Clerk, Son, 8 James Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
John 14, Telegraph Messenger, Son, 13 Church Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Kenneth Murray, 15, Telegraph Boy, Son, 7 Garden Road, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
John Bruce, 50, Linesman Telegraphs, Head, Dormitory, Stornoway, b. Clyne, Sutherland

John McRitchie, 18, Telegraph Clerk, Son, Barvas Inn, b. Barvas

Donald Smith, 17, Telegraph Clerk, Son, 27 Balallan, Lochs, b. Lochs

James Mackay, 20, Telegraphist (PO), Nephew, 59 Bayhead Street, Stornoway, b. Peterhead
John Bruce, 60, Telegraph Linesman (Retired), 34 Bayhead Street, Stornoway, b. Creich, Sutherland
Donald Macleod, 16, Telegraph Clerk, 34 Bayhead Street, Stornoway, b. England
James D Macrae, 15, Telegraph Messenger, Son, 80 Keith Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Colin Macaskill, 15, Telegraph Messenger, Son, 61 Keith Street, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
Archibald Nisbet, 31, Telegraph Linesman, 1 Plantation Street (Plantation Cottage), Stornoway, b. Bollar, Clackmannanshire

C K Mackenzie, 17, Telegraphist, Daughter, Lochs, b. Lochs

I am not entirely sure what to make of these results other than the apparent ‘explosion’ in demand following the linking of the Southern Isles to Lewis in 1886. However, some fifteen years later Stornoway has only a couple of Telegraphists/Telegraph Clerks remaining from the seven in the ‘boom time’. Whether this is due to improvements in technology, the loss of the three(!) Morrison girls, or a real drop in demand is not yet known.

The only constant figure is that of John Bruce, the linesman who, even in Retirement, appears to have kept a link to the system via young Donald Macleod who’s family shared the same house in 1901.

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