I am thinking about what a great film could be made taking the maritime charting of the Western Isles in the middle of the 19thC as the core around which it would be based. As well as the potential for recreating life aboard survey vessels of that time in spectacular scenery, it would also bring us ashore (they surveyed for up to 3 miles inland!) where we would witness the changes taking place, particularly those on Harris under the 6th Earl’s ownership, and Captain Thomas’s work on the archaeology etc of Lewis.

He was a pioneer of photography, was accompanied by his wife on the surveys and she played an important (vital, perhaps?) role in the development of textile industries on Harris. They even had a wooden house erected on Harris such was the depth of their commitment to their roles. We also have the interesting, at times tragic, story of their private lives (not least Frances’s second Baptism and subsequent marriage to her step-brother Fred) ending with the widowed Frances marrying the son of a veteran from the Battle of Trafalgar whose ship’s ensign is the only remaining one from that event.

Captain Otter’s part in the laying of the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, Fred’s father’s pioneering work in the Shetlands and Orkneys (apparently including the 10 year-old Fred!) could be woven into a piece centred on, say, the period from 1857-1867 and ending with the sale of the North Harris Estate to the Scott family.

Oh well, one can but dream…

One thought on “Film?

  1. Hi,
    I was fascinated to read your information about Captain Otter and the idea of making a film about his work. I’m a published author. I’ve written ‘Love and Music will Endure’, an historical novel, published by The Islands Book Trust and based on the life of the Skye bard and political campaigner, Mairi Mhor nan Oran.I’m completing a second book that features Captain Otter..
    I became interested in him when I discovered that I’m a descendant of Janet MacKenzie of Rona. I’m sure you’re familiar with her history, of how she kept a light to guide seafarers in her window for many years. After meeting her Captain Otter wrote to the Northern Lighthouse Board recommending she be reimbursed for the cost of the oil.
    I’m currently completing a novel which features both Janet Mackenzie and Captain Otter. I’ve researched his life with the help of the Archives Centre in Portree. I was fascinated to read your observations on his private life and his interest in photography and would be very interested to hear more about these areas of his life.
    Looking forward to hearing from you,


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