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The Invergordon Archive

Ferry Slip Invergordon 1958/59
The Invergordon Archive
Ferry Slip Invergordon 1958/59

This photo was taken at the Ferry Slip, Invergordon, about 1958. Left to right are Margaret Anderson, James Anderson, Helen Anderson and Joan Ross (me).

In the background are part of Ferry Row, Harbour Buildings, Ferry House (where I lived), the RAF station and the Naffi.
Picture added on 27 May 2011 at 17:33
Great photo Joan, just as I remember it. We used to play as kids behind your house and your Granny always kept an eye on us. We used to sit in front of the RAF Station and watch the flares (in place of fireworks). We would swim from the ferry slip to the 1st pier and back, hard to believe it is all under fill now. Hello to Skipper.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 31 May 2011
Hi Joan! Great photo! I guessed Helen Anderson was Patty Walker, but I see I'm wrong.

Added by Freda Ross on 05 June 2011
I am really please to see this wonderful photo with swans, hula hoops and the washing hanging on the line as well as the characters in the foreground. I recognise the Aburrows' house on Ferry Row where we visited frequently. Thanks for that.
Added by Freda Ross on 30 September 2011
Like Freda, I enjoy this picture too as it brings back so many memories.
I remember the shed, was it originally an air-raid shelter?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 30 September 2011
Harry, we had one in the garden of 32 High Street. My Grandfather brought home the parts and built it to store coal. I think they were supposed to be dug in and used as air raid shelters, but there must have been a few unused ones either as give aways, or for sale. Not sure which.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 03 October 2011
The black shed was I think toilets. Where the swans are swimming I can remember a plane I think was a Botha which had crashed out in the Firth.
It was on this side of the slip that they used to bring in the wrecked seaplanes. This side was quite deep and the wrecks could be taken further in. On the opposite side of the slipway right down at the end was a sandbank which prevented the mooring boat bringing the planes in. The first plane that was brought in was a Sunderland which was upside down. The RAF tried to turn it upright by connecting a thick wire cable to it and then connected to about 20 I suppose 3 ton trucks going up Mackies Lane. They didn’t manage that but the cable cut right into the stone coping on the sea wall which was still there when I left home in 1950.
Added by Doug Will on 22 October 2011
Hi Joan, looking at the photo do I remember correctly that the building on the far right had the word 'bugsy' after the OK?
Regards Bob
Added by Bob Fair on 23 October 2011
Doug are you talking during the war? I remember them being hauled out at the 1st pier by the tail and one with pilot still in it, that was after the war.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 October 2011
The back of the RAF building used to have OK Bugsy written on it. Freda, are you the Miss Ross that taught me in Primary 5? My great granny used to live in Ferry Row and that's where I stay now. Many's a good time had at ferry slip.
Added by Robbie Aburrow on 24 October 2011
You are right Bob, OK BUGSY was written on what was the NAAFI building, later the Fire Station. (Why can I remember rubbish like that and not important things like my email address?)
Added by Ronald Stewart on 28 October 2011
Yes, Robert A. I well remember that you were in the class I taught all those years ago. Hope you got the hang of reading and arithmetic despite my teaching!
Added by Freda Ross on 29 October 2011
Hi Freda, nice to hear from you. Yea, I managed fine. My own daughter is now an English teacher at Balerno school, outside Edinburgh and just loves it.
Added by Robbie Aburrow on 30 October 2011
The white building in the photo was the Watch Room, which had its entrance down a narrow passage between what was eventually the Invergordon Fire Station in the 1970s until the RAF had a specially designed and built new Unit Headquarters, workshops, stores, watch keepers position, and what was supposed to be a crew canteen and kitchen facility built on the Admiralty Oil Fuel Depot site at the top of the Admiralty Pier.
I spent a number of days and nights in the white building on both Boat Guard Duty and when manning the small craft that used West Harbour. Boat Guard Duty was from after cease of normal working day until relieved the following morning (17.00hrs - 08.00hrs) on weekdays, but at the weekend the man on duty started at 08.00hrs until 08.00 the following day, and due to him being on duty by himself he was supplied with rations to cover the meals that he had to cook for himself, and the both of these Boat Guard duties were non-sleeping, and unannounced inspections were liable to be made by either a Duty Coxswain or one of the Unit’s Officers.
The person doing these duties was a Senior Aircraftman from the Motor Boat trade of the RAF, as he would sometimes have to take out one of the 24ft Marine Tenders to assist one of the larger craft returning to base after some training mission after normal working hours on the base, or to ferry the Duty Officer or Coxswain if a craft on one of the mooring buoys was being inspected for any problem that might develop when the craft were left unmanned.
Inside the building there was a VHF Radio and an Aldis Signal lamp so that the watch ashore could communicate with the RAF craft in the Cromarty Firth area, plus the old RAF Unit Headquarters on the old base at Alness Point. Several rooms inside the building were also used to store various equipment and inflammables used by several of the smaller craft that didn't need to carry some of the items when on normal duty.
When the new Unit Headquarters opened in 1980 the use of the old building was greatly reduced, with only the occasional night seeing it used when the larger vessels of the Unit were moored on their buoys for usually some security reason, or if their berth at the Admiralty Pier was needed by some commercial shipping.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 06 January 2012
The white building also held a room where they used to repair some of the wooden boats I think as they used to do a lot of woodworking in that area. One of the RAF men made a brass model of a Sunderland seaplane and gave it to my brother Leslie who sadly passed away shortly after getting the model. I still have the model but now sadly missing its floats - still polishes up nicely when I can remember to do it.
Added by Doug Will on 10 February 2012
Sorry to tell Doug Will but there wasn't enough room inside to repair any of the RAF boats, as the rooms inside were used as storage spaces for the equipment used by the small craft normally kept in West Harbour, such as the RSLs and MTs, with a room at the rear, next to where the old road and railway line to the Admiralty compound passed, was used to store P.O.L (Paint, Oil, and Lubricants). It was impossible to get any large items down the passageway between the RAF building and what was at one time the Invergordon Fire Station (when it was manned by volunteers). It is perhaps the grey coloured building next to the white building that has a row of windows across the seaward side that might possibly have at sometime been used to repair some small wooden craft, though this isn't known for certain, plus there were small boat repair facilities inside one of the Admiralty sheds that still stands next to the shore, as this had a slip up which small craft could be dealt with under cover inside the shed (this is believed to be part of the MSIS operation down at the old Admiralty site). There was also a slipway at Alness Point up which both the flying boats and other craft could be taken out of the water if required, plus the RAF's No. 88 Maintenance Unit, which was based at Miekle Ferry during WWII, was also responsible for carrying out major repairs and other work on RAF craft during WWII. This site is now being used by the Tain Common Good firm, who harvests and sell the Mussels grown on the beds laid in the Dornoch Firth. A large number of the old RAF buildings are still to be found there, with both a number of accommodation, stores, MT Garages and workshops, along with the large boat repair hangar, still being used by the Mussel firm.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 12 February 2012
Just been to Inverg last week for few days - lot of changes. Went to Alness Heritage Centre to view Mr Wilkinson's collection - recommend it.
Added by Gordon Will on 02 July 2013
Thanks for the nice comment about my weapon collection that was on display in the Alness Heritage Centre.
The display is usually only on during June, with this being the anniversary of both the Dunkirk fiasco in 1940 and of course the unforgettable D-Day invasion some four years later.
The collection, which ranges from pistols, through Sub-Machine Guns, Rifles up to the .303in Vickers and two of the German 7.92mm World War Two Machine Guns, and a number of other militaria items, has now been stored away for another year, though its future availability for the public to handle, or get to see, depends on my being able to carry on looking after it, plus the heritage centre's ability to put it on show in a similar manner to how it is displayed and someone being willing to give up some time to answer the many questions that are asked about certain items, as well as show visitors how to handle some of the more lighter items.
So once again many thanks Gordon, and nice to see my efforts have been considered as worthwhile.
Added by David L Wilkinson on 04 July 2013
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