The Invergordon Archive

Invergordon Harbour
The Invergordon Archive
Invergordon Harbour

The Harbour Invergordon. The photo was used for a postcard and shows battleships moored in the Firth. HMS Vanguard can be seen moored in the Firth on the right side of the photo. It is known to have visited in 1952 and in 1953.
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Picture added on 13 May 2004
Comments:
Smart observation, Brian. This is the west harbour and I wonder if the boat tied up on the left is the Invergordon/Cromarty ferry - the Endeavour?
Added by Malcolm McKean on 19 October 2004
I think I remember the landing craft. Was it there for some time? What was it used for?
Added by Brian McKenzie on 19 October 2004
On the subject of landing craft, during WW2 there were two landing craft out at Balantraid Pier (past Saltburn) being used for training for the D-day landings. My Auntie (Jessie Ross, Tommy Ross the Ironmonger's wife) lived at the Pier and was always giving them cups of tea.
Added by Jet Andrews on 19 November 2004
Don't remember the landing craft, but the boat on the left is the "Muriel" owned by Hec Macrae; the large navy ship is the HMS Vanguard.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 24 November 2004
Talk here of the Invergordon Ferry being in this picture. My gr. gr. Grandfather Donald (Daniel) Hogg was a seaman on a ferryboat and lived in Invergordon - I am guessing this one. He drowned 31/1/1889 - he was only 35 years old. Any history around that I could find something on this, thanks, Anna Hogg Verner (Canada)

Added by Anna Hogg Verner on 04 April 2005
Anna, that is going back a ways and the picture #325 would be more fitting as later boats were motor boats, maybe someone else could help, maybe the museum? ....or?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 04 April 2005
The vessel on the left in the harbour is not the Endeavour or Muriel. Although its name escapes me at present, it was a pleasure craft owned by Angie Toochie.
The Endeavour was based at Cromarty, and not left berthed unattended at Invergordon. The Muriel was more usually berthed on the west side of the harbour.
Added by Ronald Stewart on 18 September 2005
Definitely not the Endeavour. I knew every copper nail in her. Was the Muriel Old Hec McRae's boat? If it was to be one or the other it has to be the Muriel.
Added by Pat Swanson on 18 September 2005
Yes Pat, the Muriel was Hec Mcraes boat, it looks like her; but Ronald could be correct, hard to say.
Added by Harry on 19 September 2005
Muriel was a larger vessel with wheelhouse aft giving full standing headroom; there was a cargo hold ahead of the wheelhouse. This vessel has a raised coachroof and no wheelhouse; the hull shape is also very different from the Muriel.
The owner Angie Toochie was more correctly called Mr Angus Ross, who lived on Seabank Road.
Added by Ronald Stewart on 19 September 2005
Muriels canopy was added late fifties for engine repairs etc. It was very small (least profile for ducks)
Hec told me he had got her from Glasgow and she was an ex-lifeboat. He painted her at the east side
of the harbour. She was normally moored ahead of RAF and ferry boats at west side. I think it is her.
Added by Bob Fair on 20 September 2005
Guess both were similar boats...However when I was on the Muriel with Robert Macrae she didn't have any wheelhouse, just a cowling over the engine (which I used to crank) - the rest of the hull was open. I do remember one time the engine stalling and we were towed back in by one of the RAF fast boats...Hello Bobby Fair
Added by Harry on 20 September 2005
I think there is still some confusion here!
Muriel was NAAFI boat operated by Hec, I think! Another NAAFI boat was called Catterick.
Also, I think Bob describes the boat used by Hec, with his punt for duck shooting. I never recall that boat being called anything other than "Hecs Boat".
Perhaps if I mention a fire on board, it might revive memories of Muriel and Catterick??
Or am I completely confused??
Added by Ronald Stewart on 27 September 2005
I think you might be right Ronald, about the NAAFI boats. I think he also called his own motor boat the Muriel (maybe after the NAAFI boat?). He also had a daughter called Muriel. Long time now Harry O'
Added by Bob Fair on 01 October 2005
Regarding the boat in the picture belonging to Angus Ross of Seabank Road - her name was 'Caber Feigh'. She lay there for years but was well looked after. The Muriel was a Naffi boat of the MFV type which Hec Mcrae ran - the Chaucer was the other he had. Hec's motor boat never had a name that I knew - it was always "hecs boat".
Added by Duncan Murray on 02 January 2006
The wife of the owner of the Cabar Feidh (spg?) features in picture #241.
Added by Ronald Stewart on 25 January 2006
Has anyone tried to identify the ships at the Admiralty Pier? I wonder, is the inner ship HMS Tyne or perhaps HMS Apollo..both of which were regular visitors and always moored alongside? The outboard ship looks very like a destroyer. Would be very interested to know...
Added by Duncan Murray on 14 February 2006
Hard to say there Duncan, picture not clear, but know the Apollo had 3 or 4 funnels, can't make out in this picture....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 15 February 2006
The inner vessel could be the Apollo - the Apollo if I recall rightly had 3 very regular straight funnels similar to the inner vessel - 2 funnels are clearly visible and the third may be obscured by the building on the pier. I think the Tyne was a larger vessel than the one in this picture.
The thick dark mast and straight cut stern of the outer vessel is similar to the old Daring class destroyers and HMS Daring was a regular visitor although I am not sure if that fits with the timescale of HMS Vanguard. Interestingly the ship launched on the Clyde recently was the first of the new Daring Class Destroyers.

(A larger version of part of the picture has now been provided - hopes this helps with identification - Site Admin.)
Added by Graham Mackenzie on 15 February 2006
The inboard of the two warships in the centre is an Abdiel-class minelayer (APOLLO, ARIADNE or MANXMAN - the other three were lost during the war); the outboard ship I'm reasonably sure is either BATTLEAXE or BROADSWORD ('Weapon' class destroyers - note the twin 4" gun mounting aft). The better the definition that can be achieved the more likely a positive identification of the ships, and the date the photo was taken.
Added by Mark Brady on 16 February 2006
Battelaxe and Broadsword were certainly regular visitors in the 50s. Another regular was the Cadiz.
Minesweeper Welcome was based at Inverg for a long time.
Added by Bill Geddes on 16 February 2006
Can anyone remember the large boat that was tied up at the top of the RAF pier (1st pier) - think it was just prior to the second war. It was coloured grey - think the name was Ellen Dhu. Never saw it except being tied up almost in the corner.
Added by Douglas Will on 21 February 2006
Hi duncan, just seen the website of Inver.G and it is really good. It brought back memories of nearly 50 years ago, as if it were yesterday. It's been 50 year or so when I left Invergordon and I have just returned to Scotland to live after being adrift for so long. I now live in Callander, Perthshire, and spend most of my semi-retirement sea & fresh water fishing. It would be nice if us old boys of yesteryears could maybe meet up and have the crack. Talking of boats & ships (which I miss dearly), I saw a programme years ago about a small Para-Handy-type boat and could not believe that it was the VIC 56. It used to supply the Navy in the 50s and is now in private ownership somewhere in south of England. Hope to hear from somebody soon. Regards John Maclaren
Added by John Maclaren on 26 March 2006
Hi john..been a while hasnt it?..the boat in the picture I don't think is the Vic 56 - it looks more like the old Vic 32 which was one of the water lighters..very similar ..but perhaps I'm incorrect..anyway many a hour we spent together down that part of the town..boats I still like ..even do a bit of yachting from time to time..see your nephew Mark now and again hope we will meet up again ...50 years seems a long time...regards Duncan
Added by Duncan Murray on 29 March 2006
HMS Apollo had three funnels. I was a POs messman on it in 1957.
Added by J Flynn on 11 April 2006
The landing craft in this picture, (behind the right hand car) is almost certainly the same vessel as appears in picture #885 of HMS Eagle. The landing craft was loaded with ships stores and can be seen alongside an MFV, just below the funnel of HMS Eagle.
Added by Ronald Stewart on 14 May 2006
Does anybody have further pictures or stories of the Muriel or the Chaucer? My father, Dick Bailey, was on both during the early part of WW2 when they were NAAFI boats and would be interested.
Added by A P Bailey on 17 May 2006
She could well be Apollo. I too served on her '57-'58 and we called at Invergordon in June '58 (arriving in atrocious weather). Alongside a nearby jetty at the time was a ?tanker Artemis. Artemis was burnt out at sea a few days later. I always thought it ironic that in mythology Apollo and Artemis were brother and sister! They met up just before the end.
I also served in Vanguard briefly in September-November '56 at Devonport. She was acting as Training ship in place of Ocean which had gone off to Suez. Vanguard then went to Portsmouth to be mothballed prior to breaking up.
Added by David Elkington on 14 January 2007
It could have been '55 or '56. I remember my father taking me out to see Vanguard in the Pilot Boat when I was 4 or 5.
Added by James Elwin (son of Cmdr JA Elwin) on 29 September 2008
I served in HMS Eagle 1954-1965 as a National Service stoker. I well remember returning from the Med and our first call in the UK was Invergordon. I shall never forget going ashore to telephone my folks from the only phone kiosk in Invergordon - over 2,000 crew members all wanting to make a phone call - no mobiles in those days.
Added by Neil Sims on 07 November 2008
The landing craft was used to supply the ships.
Added by Gordon Will on 26 February 2010
I noticed mention of the Naafi boat "Catterick". This class of boat were all given the name of an army camp. Catterick was disposed of at Rosyth in the early sixties where she was bought by Charlie Brown from Grangemouth who cruised her extensively on the west coast. He moored her outside the Forth and Clyde canal entrance at Grangemouth and then in Charlestown harbour before I seem to remember he sold her to somebody in Alloa. I never saw her on the lower reaches of the Forth after that.
Added by Sandy Mitchell on 05 July 2010
My father had a small launch (War Dept.) in the mid war years ferrying soldiers to Jemimaville battery(?) named Spitfire(?). We lived in Joss Street for 2 years ’43/’44(?) - I was born in ’38. Landlady had a small dog Hector(?).
My recollections: burned my hand on stove pipe of YMCA or NAAFI. Fellow lodgers - Garretts - he was Fl/Lt in Sunderlands. Hooked a wren's hat with my fishing line on Invergordon to Cromarty ferry. Nearly got run over by doctor’s car while sleeping in the middle of Joss Street or was I just having a nightmare? Went to school there but as no-one could understand me (Buchan accent). My mother took me home to Peterhead. Salvage boat Vellenhelli. Rosehip syrup and fritters. Saw the film the Black Swan. I am really dredging my memory.
Added by George Strachan on 13 March 2012
I am Muriel, Hec Macrae's daughter. I was named after the NAAFI boat called Muriel. I would like a photograph of the boat if anyone in Invergorden has one.
Added by Muriel Macrae on 08 August 2015
Hi Muriel, that isn't her then in the picture?..
I remember going out in the Muriel with your brother Robert. We broke down and got towed in by one of the air force boats.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 08 August 2015
That is, as Ronald Stewart mentioned in 2005, the Caber Feidh owned by my father Angus Ross, Rossal. More information follows submitted by my sister Flora.
I also remember The Muriel, but that is not it.
Added by Freda Ross on 09 August 2015
The boat in the picture is, as Duncan Murray (2006) says and confirmed by Freda, Caber Feidh. She was a Loch Fyne skiff, clinker built and varnished. She would have been about thirty feet overall and would have had sails originally. She is shown before the addition of a doghouse, to convert her to a pleasure craft. Angie did not use her very much but I remember meeting him and his crewman/mechanic, Mr Murchison, headmaster of Alness school, in the Caledonian canal, when we were both en route to the west coast.
The Muriel was a large ex-fishing boat of the Fifie design which would have been built some time after 1870. She was probably requisitioned by the Navy and designated an MFV, (motor fishing vessel) and used for auxiliary duties such as shipping stores to warships moored off. She was stoutly built with a broad beam and about sixty feet in length with a draught of about seven feet. She was berthed alongside the east wall of the basin. She would have had two masts originally and was a fast sailor. The iron tabernacle for the main-mast was still on the foredeck. She had two engines, both Kelvins. The smaller auxiliary was about thirty hp. and the main engine about sixty hp. She could do about nine knots. There was a small wheelhouse aft, housing the engine controls and the wheel. The fish-hold had been converted into a large dry hold and there was some accommodation in the fore-peak. I often went with Hec MacRae on his business of victualling the ships and was fascinated by the quantity and variety of the stores, from sacks of potatoes, string bags of onions, crates of cabbages and a huge assortment of cardboard boxes. These were all loaded and unloaded by hand and must have amounted to several tons. After stowing the supplies, the sailors heaved the cardboard boxes over the side and they went sailing down the firth in line astern on the ebb tide and out past Cromarty. No eco-freaks in these days!
Hec, who was in charge of Muriel, maintained her well and I remember the annual ritual of caulking the decks with pitch. The old pitch was scraped out of the seams and then replaced with hot pitch, poured from a large ladle having a spout. When the pitch had set, the surplus was chipped off level with the deck planks. I often played around on Muriel with Richard, Hec's son and on one occasion, at high tide, we tied her up close to the pier to an iron ladder, with a short rope. However we forgot to untie this rope at the end of our capers, and as the tide ebbed Muriel was hung up by the rope, which eventually snapped and she fell over on her side. She lay there like a stranded whale until the tide came in again. Fortunately she re-floated without incident. There were no repercussions for me and I never discovered if Richard took all the blame.
Later another MFV, the Chaucer arrived on the scene. She was much smaller than Muriel, around fifty feet in length and quite slim. She had a canoe stern and a small wheelhouse. I don't know why she was required, as Muriel could easily handle all the freight. Perhaps, being smaller, she was less expensive to run. In the end, as one contributor mentioned, she caught fire and was destroyed.
Hec Macrae owned a boat which he used for line fishing and duck shooting. I believe he built her himself. She was about twenty feet long, beamy and completely open and of an Orkney double-ended design. She was carvel planked and beautifully made. I often went fishing in her with Hec. The strange thing is that, as mentioned by several contributors, she was never given a name but was simply referred to as Hec's. She was certainly not called Muriel.
Hec built two punts for duck shooting, and he would tow one over to Udal bay, anchor his boat and take to the punt, lying in the bottom and paddling quietly until he came within range. We could hear the boom of his punt gun quite clearly at Invergordon and in due course Hec would arrive back at the pier with his catch. The punt gun was about eight feet long with a bore of about two inches. It fired a pound of lead shot. I remember Richard showing me how the shot charges were made, by wrapping the pellets with newspaper into a cylinder, about five inches long. The powder charge was poured into the muzzle of the gun and held in place by a wad, then the cartridge was rammed in and finally another wad. When about to be deployed, the gun was run out by ropes like the cannon of a warship. The pellets and powder were obtained from shot-gun cartridges, which were taken to pieces on the kitchen floor. About sixteen cartridges were required for each shot.
Unfortunately, I have no photographs which could be used to authenticate this account and have to rely on memory, which has its limitations. Even if I had had a camera, it would not occur to a youngster to photograph such everyday sights. They are to be there for ever with no thought for posterity. Time teaches us somewhat differently!
Added by Gordon Legge on 09 August 2015
Thanks Freda.

Muriel, can you look at picture #1566, is that you in the picture?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 10 August 2015
See picture #1670, I am almost certain that the low grey shape lying to the right of the south harbour wall is one of Hec MacRae's punts, far right (the light blue boat) is Ted Aburrow's old ferry boat "Kirsty", see picture #1661 and picture #1668.
Added by Eddie Malicki on 10 August 2015
Yes Harry that is me in the picture.
Added by Muriel Macrae on 11 August 2015
Thanks Muriel, both my sister Margaret and I thought so. You are also in picture #1072.
Great to see you on here.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 11 August 2015
Thanks Gordon for your accurate information on my father’s two boats; it's nice to know you spent some time on them. Happy memories.
Added by Muriel Macrae on 13 August 2015
Thanks Harry, that picture brings happy memories.
Added by Muriel Macrae on 13 August 2015
The larger version shows quite a number of civilians on the pier and particularly on the pontoon with its gangway. This was probably a visiting day and likely for the VANGUARD. Visiting days were quite popular and usually well attended.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 August 2015
Hi Harry not sure which larger version you are referring to can you give a number for it please many thanks
Added by Muriel Macrae on 14 August 2015
Hi Muriel, if you look at the caption under the picture it says View larger version..click on it.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 August 2015
In picture #1673 showing Muriel's wheelhouse, the crutch which housed the mast when lowered, can be seen on the top of the wheelhouse. It is the structure with the semi-circular cut-out. The foot of the mast was held in a swivel in the tabernacle on the foredeck and when lowered, the mast rested in the crutch on top of the wheelhouse. Muriel's mast had been removed but the fittings remained.
Fishing boats of this type were rigged with dipping lug sails and were reputed to be fast sailors. The rig was cumbersome and heavy to work and was eventually replaced when reliable engines became available. The Kelvin engine led the way in this transformation.
Added by Gordon Legge on 24 August 2015
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