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The Invergordon Archive

Cathie, Jim and a young Iain Askew
The Invergordon Archive
Cathie, Jim and a young Iain Askew

Cathie, Jim and a young Iain Askew in the front garden of 65 Clyde street which was over the road from the house. It is now a car park with a new house on the corner but was my Gran's garden and where she kept hens.
Picture added on 12 August 2008
Liz, another good photo. Iain is more recognizable in this one!! Cathie and Jim didn't change much over the years.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 12 August 2008
Hi Rosalie, if you saw him today you would recognise him - he hasn't changed much at all. I can't remember ever being in this garden but when you see it today it is mainly a car park with a house in the top corner. So much of the area has been cleared and buildings demolished around the shore area that Invergordon has lost a lot of its heritage and atmosphere.
Added by Liz Adam (Askew) on 13 August 2008
Hi Liz, I was born and brought up in Clyde Street, and I was up there a couple of years ago. I couldn't believe the changes that have taken place. Of course I remember the Askew house very well and the garden opposite. Not all changes are for the best!!!
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 14 August 2008
65 Clyde Street was where my Grandad and Granny (Donald and Catherine MacDonald) used to live. My mum (Diane) said the car park used to be the garden, but I could never picture it! What a shame so much of Invergordon is under tarmac now.
Added by Carrie Weager on 20 June 2010
Hi Liz and Carrie, I was up in Invergordon last month for a very enjoyable holiday with my family. I can't believe the changes and certainly not all for the better. I remember Cathie and Jim, Hamish and Ian very well and it seems so sad to me that their lovely garden is now a car park, although with so much narrowing of the High Street I suppose a car park is needed.
What I find hard to believe is how much Alnes has been developed and Invergordon neglected. For me this is really sad, - good for Alness which is nice but such a shame for such a historic town as ours.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 21 June 2010
Hi Rosalie, it is so sad to hear that Invergordon is becoming neglected which I had heard about from friends I am still in touch with. I can still recall the wide High Sreet, why they had to narrow it I can't understand. In our time Invergordon always seemed much better than Alness.
Added by Janet (Macpherson) Shoosmith on 22 June 2010
Hi Janet, it's so good to see your comment. I totally agree with you about Inverg and Alness but you should see Alness now, it's a very thriving community and the shops are excellent.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 23 June 2010
No, Invergordon has been the playground for too many councillors toying with peoples lives. The wide High Street was lovely with trees down it and did not need narrowing. The shore area was quaint and could have been turned into a fishertown area. The Royal Hotel should have been rebuilt as it was the centre-point of the High Street. A bundle of errors which goes to show that major decisions like the narrowing of the High Street should not be made by councillors but by the people who have to live with it.
Added by Liz Taylor nee Askew on 23 June 2010
Yes it is a shame that the fantastic wide high street has been narrowed and cars are allowed to park in the centre. Alness hasn't always looked so nice as it does now. It has taken a huge effort by members of the community to transform it and of course maintain it year after year. Indeed they’ve done such an excellent job that community councillors in the town I now live in, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, invited those involved in the transformation of Alness to give them guidance and advice on achieving the same here. Ellon Civic Pride now does a wonderful job of maintaining flowerbeds and hanging baskets in the town and I have great admiration for them. Does Invergordon need a similar injection of enthusiasm from the community-spirited people living in the town, who would be prepared to dedicate some of their spare time to such a Civic Pride movement?
Added by John Fraser on 26 June 2010
Liz, I totally agree with you, and John, we definitely need a big injection of enthusiasm. It really saddens me every time I go home to see how it is now, and I can't believe it was allowed to happen to such a great town.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 30 June 2010
Yes, my Mam (Gillian Sinclair, 37 High St) waxes lyrical about her growing up during the war in Invergordon, but every time I go up there I can't help feeling disappointed - like, is that it? Even the vet can't be bothered to paint the attic windows on the old Bissetts Hotel! It just looks scruffy, that maroon paint must be 50 years old at least.
Added by Eddy Hawman on 30 June 2010
There is no doubt in my mind that Invergordon is a much changed place and not for the better to the town of my childhood but you need to understand that it is a different place for us all. Invergordon grew from a town of 1500 people to probably 4500 in a relatively short time during an economic boom which didn't last all that long and for some time now has been suffering from the increasing social problems that has caused. Invergordon is not alone and in fact is probably quite typical of other towns of similar size. Alness has of course bucked the trend and through excellent community spirit and drive has had a great beneficial effect on the community. Despite that, Alness too still has many of the similar social ills as Invergordon and on the other side of the coin Invergordon has a growing band of people from all walks who are striving to improve the town.
In short I think your comments are generally tinged with the rose tinted glasses that we all tend to view the past through and are largely unfair and disrespectful to all the people in the town that I see who are working hard to improve things through various initiatives. You no longer live here and I think that as they say "Nostalgia is a thing of the past" and the Invergordon of our youth will never be back but that is the same the world over.
Eddy - you criticise the Vet for not painting the windows in the Attic - do you know if the Vet is responsible for them? It is likely that they do not even lease the attic. The Vets are a young couple who have taken on the practice and seem to me to be trying hard to make a difference and your comment is grossly unfair as are some of the other comments.
Don't get me wrong folks, many of your points are valid and I agree with them but you are simply not close enough to make some of the comments you are making.
Added by Graham MacKenzie on 30 June 2010
Hi Graham, you may be right about rose coloured glasses. I'm sorry to offend you, that wasn't my intention and apologise unreservedly. The point is this is the impression people get. I live near places which have suffered industrial decline (Co. Durham) and whilst it was sad to see the mines and steel works go these places are actually transformed into clean, healthy places to live, because the industry has gone. Whatever you think the attic windows speak volumes about how the people that run the town, view the town. Ps no pun intended!
Added by Eddy Hawman on 01 July 2010
Hi Eddy - you didn't offend me in any way and no apology is required - I am not one of the volunteers who is working hard right now although when I retire I hope to put a bit more in. The point I was making was simply that there are people trying hard and they deserve to be praised.
You are absolutely right that there are many places suffering from industrial decline that have done great things but I would suggest that that Invergordon's decline is just a bit more recent and it will take time but people are trying. You are right, the attic windows are symptomatic but my point was that it may not necessarily be the Vet’s responsibility.
At the end of the day this kind of debate can be beneficial and if it makes people think a bit that's good.
Kind Regards

Added by Graham MacKenzie on 01 July 2010
Hi Graham, Your points are valid but I don't think rose coloured glasses is quite right. The town is still busy with the cruise liners coming in but when they walk down the High Street what is there for them to see? It's so disappointing to see all the coaches lined up on the pier to take them away from Invergordon, and I have seen and spoken to people from the liners who have made their way to Alness, and that is where they are spending their money. You are right when you say that Inverg is a town of our youth and will never be back but it could be better. Other towns here in Norfolk have suffered from the recession especially little fishing towns but they have diversified and made tremendous improvements to encourage new businesses and attract the tourists. It can be done Graham.
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 02 July 2010
I have travelled a great deal through Britain and it seems to me that very few small towns escaped "improvement" in the ’60s and ’70s. This was the first period after the war when some money was available to modernise. Sadly this often involved sweeping away the past and replacing it with an inappropriate future. The town I now live in has suffered from disastrous planning decisions, as has Invergordon.
As a infrequent visitor who was brought up there I get a really strange feeling when in the town. There are bits which remain unchanged and others which are quite unrecognisable. Certainly the whole area east of the High Street, if preserved, could have become a quaint and attractive area, a bit like Cromarty. The reality is that jobs and industry were needed to arrest a decline and it was the "historic" part of the town that got clobbered.
The past cannot be undone but worthwhile remains should be fiercely protected - just imagine a country with no old buildings, what a bore that would be!
Added by Bill Geddes on 02 July 2010
Hi Rosalie, thanks for your reply - a wee bit of debate is good. Re the cruise liners I'm afraid that standard practice for these companies is to bus their passengers away on tours and they make a lot of money doing that. In the brochures Invergordon is described as the gateway to the Highlands and the majority of people are enticed to Loch Ness, Skye, Dunrobin Castle which are portrayed as being the picture perfect Highlands so faced with a day out in Invergordon or Alness against the romantic idea of the Highland Tour then most are going to pass on InverG. However the ones who do stay need to be targeted and InverG needs to be proactive on that front and I do see things happening. There is now a booth at the pier entrance manned by volunteers giving all sorts of advice and information on the town and the area, the museum is attracting visitors (again manned by volunteers), the golf club, the church are all very open to visitors so people are working hard.
The problem is the town is not very attractive and is in parts run down but although I grew up here and thought it was wonderful it was never the most attractive of towns - dominated by oil tanks and in days gone by huge industrial type dockyard activities. Today most of the tanks have gone and are replaced by smart new houses but the seafront is now dominated by ugly oil related fabrication structures and I'm afraid that is what it is.
The centre of the town is the issue and there are too many neglected buildings but there is a limit on what public bodies can do to resolve that - it is generally the responsibility of the owners. You are right of course, it could be better and I think it is getting better in many ways but it will take time, the will is there though.
Kind Regards
Added by Graham MacKenzie on 02 July 2010
Hi Rosalie, hasn't this been an interesting debate. No matter how Invergordon has changed I still have great memories of living there and it still holds a special place in my heart.
Added by Janet (Macpherson) Shoosmith on 02 July 2010
What a forum we have here, a fine debate indeed. Fear not Invergordon will prevail. With the closing of the dockyard in the 1950s, something had to be done to bring employment to the town and area and to stop the flow of youth and families to other places. It is unfortunate that some things did not pan out, like the smelter for instance, but then there is the distillery. The town really hasn't changed that much, a few new housing estates maybe and as Graham mentions the area around the piers being occupied by fabrication structures, sad but space is limited.
I hope that Invergordon prospers and its citizens flourish. That's what we all want isn't it? - whether we still live there or not.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 03 July 2010
Hi Graham, thanks for your very gracious reply. I really appreciate that. Graham, the walk down from the Saltburn Pier is really lovely.....nice houses and gardens but coming to the top of the High Street is a bit of a let down. I was actually at the door of the museum (which is very interesting) when I met a lady from a liner who asked how much it cost to get in. I told her it was free and then handed her over to Donald Clark who was a good guide. I wonder, if at the pier, in front of the coaches a sign could be displayed about our lovely golf course which is of great interest to Americans especially. 18 holes and a"wee dram". Cheesy? maybe, moneymaking? definitely, a good introduction to Inverg? without doubt. There is a lovely tourist gift shop and cafe at the top of the Saltburn(?) pier and that is really nice. I searched all of Inverg to buy "Invergordon or Scottish" playing cards to no avail but I found nice ones at that gift shop. The bowling green is very nice and the surrounding garden areas are a joy to see, maintained by an Invergordon stalwart, Willie Forsyth. Graham, I was born and brought up in Invergordon which will always be my home and I am very proud of that. None of this was meant in any way to undermine the efforts of people trying to make a difference. We will always be Invergordonians no matter how long we have been away or how far away we live. Kindest Regards
Added by Rosalie (Graham) Samaroo on 03 July 2010
Graham and all, I was in Invergordon yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day and after Graham’s gentle chastisement I looked at the town with a very positive demeanour. The drive in through Salturn, Westwood and past the Admiralty Houses is really nice, with everything looking spick and span. Even driving down through the High Street I saw things in a different light. If developers take the initiative on the few sites that are spoiling the town I think it would look pretty smart. Oh and I also thought the Church looked very imposing as I looked up towards it, on my way down the street. The sites I refer to that are probably detracting from the town’s looks are: where Taylors/Frews Garages were, the waste ground beside the old SAI buildings, the Royal Hotel site and the empty Builders Yard at the south entrance to the town. Like everyone else I have a lot of pride in Invergordon and would like to see it prosper. Incidentally I also drove through Alness to compare and while the High Street is very nice, once you cross the Averon Bridge it's a different matter.
Added by John Fraser on 04 July 2010
Hello John and all. I tend to agree John, the main issue for me on the High Street is these "gap" sites that stick out like carbuncles and spoil the whole feel of the High Street. The problem is that they belong to someone or other and it is essentially the owner's responsibility and without developers cash or the will of the owner it will be difficult. The worst for me is the waste land next to the old Bone Mill buildings and even the Bone Mill buildings themselves - once a piece of local history now decaying year by year.
There are other issues especially with some of the old sandstone buildings showing bad signs of erosion but again unless there is public danger then it is down to the owner and that comes down to cash and conscience and these two are not always happy bedfellows.
Rosalie - the Golf Course is marketing the liner trade and with some success are offering good deals with “the wee dram". There are even volunteers running passengers to and from the course. Doubt if it is going down well with the Cruise Line Companies as they were charging about 4 times the price that the club are! At this time of year with the Rhoddies in full bloom it really is magnificent.
I think I'll leave this debate now and hope nobody was too offended and if it stirs up some debate and makes us all think a bit then that's good. We are of course all "tarred with the same brush" wherever we are in the world (I was away myself for 15 years and do understand the absence makes the heart grow fonder scenario). It all just goes to show that Invergrdon has still got a lot going for it and support from all corners.
Kindest Regards to all.
BTW John - Get in touch next time you are up and maybe we can have a good yarn over a beer and reminisce on how we were such good footballers (well, in our own minds at least!)
Added by Graham MacKenzie on 05 July 2010
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