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The Invergordon Archive

Invergordon Smelter
The Invergordon Archive
Invergordon Smelter

The smelter of British Aluminium.
Picture added on 25 September 2004
Comments:
This was almost certainly taken after the Smelter closed in Jan 1981. The car park is empty and there is a chimney missing.
Added by anon on 09 May 2005
I could not for the life of me, even from this distance, understand why they would build a smelter at Inver-g, as there was already one at Fort William...what is happening with this white elephant now?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 12 May 2005
I remember well walking from the car park to the changing rooms to start my shift in the Smelter and wondering what mess or disaster would be in front of me this time.
Before I left the company the ingots were being stock piled and the writing was on the wall even then.
I was employed as a Production Supervisor in the Extraction process from 1972-1975.
Added by Claus Boyle on 25 October 2005
I worked on the construction in 70/71, a lot of money for c10 year life (the smelter, not me!). Gather a political shenanigans - note the Kinlochleven one also gone.
Added by Jon Mace on 23 January 2006
I worked there in the 70s. Miss the people of Invergordon. If by any miracle anyone remembers me(Ian Brough) or knows the whereabouts of a long lost friend Dave Brown, please contact me. Thanks.
Added by Ian Brough on 13 July 2006
My dad worked on the smelter from the mid 70s to 1980, Bill Swinley.
Added by Rick Swinley on 22 August 2006
I worked there as a student Civil Engineer, April to August 1970, particularly on the conveyor system from Barbaraville which crossed the railway line. Fond memories of tea and homemade cake with Harry (a retired Englishman) who operated the railway crossing (there were about two to three trains a day). Enjoyed the quiet peacefullness of Invergordon on a Sunday, strolling back into town after mass in the old hut that was St Joseph's Catholic Church, picking up the paper and sitting on the coastline gazing out to Nigg and the Black Isle.
Added by Thomas Kane. on 13 November 2007
Hello Rick Swinley! I knew your father well, he was our engineer on "C" shift, he was a grafter, a nice guy. If I remember rightly, he moved out to a smelter in South Africa before Invergordon closed - seem to remember making up a large wooden crate for him to ship his gear out. Pass on my regards!
Added by Eddie Malicki on 22 March 2008
My husband was shift superintendant at the smelter during the 70s. We agree this must have been taken after the smelter closed in December 1981.
Added by Lynn Tibbott on 08 April 2008
My dad (Jack Hinde) worked at the smelter for a very short time - he'd not long started when it was announced that it was closing! He was also the local bus driver and managed to get back behind the wheel after it closed.
Added by Alison Hinde on 28 May 2008
This picture was taken late ‘80s (1986/8). This is as close as I remember as I was involved in putting the crane in with the "Demolition Ball" for Pendrich Steeplejacks from Edinburgh, The tops of the chimneys were removed hydraulically down to around 120 feet when the crane took over and demolished them to ground level.
Added by Duncan Murray on 30 May 2008
My dad worked at the smelter (Bill/Willie Lynas). We lived in Alness - what a fab place to be brought up as a youngster - have many happy memories of my time there.
I remember one afternoon he picked me up on the way home from school and said we were off to pick my mum up from the smelter (as she worked in accounts - Kay Lynas). By the time we got there it was heavy snow and we didn't leave till late that night as all the roads were blocked. We got a lift home in a BACO land rover - very exciting at the time.
After the smelter he worked for various engineering companies including Cromarty Firth Engineering; James Jack for a while and Isleburn/Global Resources.
He was very much committed to his work, that was his life - hence being married 3 times!
Sadly my dad past away September ‘07. I know he will be missed as he was a respected man and a real character.
Added by Paul Lynas on 02 August 2008
Hi Eddie, sorry I can't put a face to your name but it's nice to know that you remember me anyhow. I'm now back from S.A. living in Kirkcaldy again in the process of starting my own business. Please feel free to e-mail me. I'm looking for any information regarding my pension when I was there (who to contact, etc).
Regards Bill Swinley.
Added by Bill Swinley on 11 August 2008
Hi Bill, if you would like the details of how to contact the pension service for B.A.Co., please contact me Viv Tibbott at v.tibbott1@ntlworld.com and I would be pleased to give you the info required.
Added by Viv Tibbott on 13 August 2008
I worked for Vibroplant and travelled up from Dundee to service the rental compressors back in the late '70s. I moved to the US in '79 and didn't realize that the Smelter had closed. I enjoyed the pictures and memories.
Added by Steve Barnett on 26 August 2008
I'm trying to contact Ian Mcbay and Roddy McLeod. Anyone with ANY details, please contact me.
Added by William Swinley on 18 November 2008
Hi Bill, this is Janet, Roddy's daughter.
Added by Janet MacLeod on 19 November 2008
I remember Mabel Dingwall's voice booming from the Smelter tannoy system. She could be heard all over Invergordon as she announced phone calls for whoever.
Anonymous comment added on 18 June 2009
We remember Mabel Dingwall very well. She went out of her way to make us feel welcome when we arrived at Invergordon, a long way from home and more than a little homesick. God Bless Mabel
Added by Lynn Tibbott on 18 June 2009
Is it true that they want to put an industrial waste incinerator here?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 09 July 2009
Yes Harry they do indeed. There have been many meetings/petitions etc going around very much against it. Although not totally in agreement with it, I just think all the publicity about it is killing Invergordon without a brick even being laid!! We are now known as Toxic town thanks to the protestors......
Added by JillianB on 10 July 2009
Viv, remember you well, not many welsh accents up here at that time, not many Yorkshire ones either.
You may remember my late father-in-law Jock Sutherland, Cellroom 2. He sadly passed away 11years ago. Mabel is still around, we see her quite often - I’ll pass on your message to her.
All the Best.
Added by Peter Legge on 12 July 2009
Hi Peter, we remember you and Jock very well from our time at Invergordon - nice to hear from you. It is now 27 years since we left there. I am now semi-retired and at 70 like to keep busy.
Added by Viv Tibbott on 20 July 2009
Peter and Viv - remember the both of you. I have retired some 6 years now (early from GSK). It is now 34 years since I left the smelter -a lot of water under the bridge!!!
Added by Claus Boyle on 16 August 2009
I remember Mabel Dingwall very well as she was my dad's second wife. She was a very nice woman and must have had the patience of a saint.
They met at the smelter and eventualy got married but it never lasted that long before they were divorced as he was still married to his work. Such a shame.

I am often up that way on holidays and am moving back for good towards the year end. Would like to look up Mabel to say hello; be nice to see her again.
Added by Paul Lynas on 27 August 2009
I visited several times in the mid `70s as part of the BA audit team from London. The works tours were great fun even though I understood very little due to the noise in the cell rooms and the broad Glaswegian accents. We stayed at the Caledonian Hotel Portmahomack and I remember dinner one evening with Morag(?) in the accounts department.

Added by John Marshall on 31 October 2009
I wonder if anyone remembers me from the Smelter as I have left a few comments and worked there from 1973?
Added by Claus Boyle on 19 January 2010
My dad Peter Hollas worked at the Smelter from 1973 -1978 in Producrion Control and as a buyer. I did my 6-month training in Accounts there. Yes I remember Morag very well, also the Auditors from London.
Added by Carol Barrington on 31 January 2010
Hi Viv and Claus. Remember you both - I was supv Room one "D" shift. I retired last May. Would like to hear from you both.
Added by Alister Ross on 06 February 2010
Alister, good to hear from you. I took early retirement some 8 years ago from Glaxo Smith Kline where I ended up as Business manager. I now live in Glasgow with my partner of 7 years.
Do you still live in Ross-shire, do you see any of the old crowd from the Smelter? Do you have an e-mail address?
Best regards
Claus
Added by Claus Boyle on 07 February 2010
Hi Alister and Claus, good to hear from you. I retired 10 years ago from a car component company - still here in Wales after our return 28 years ago. I have a small part-time job and my allotment so, as you can see, I keep very busy. My family are all close by. Regards to you both.
Added by Viv Tibbott on 11 February 2010
I recognise a few names here.. Blast from the past.. I have started a facebook group for Invergordon Smelter Apprentices.. If anyone knows any that are on FB please inform them.. Would be good to get a reunion happening.. Cheers Dave Mackay (AKA Davie Durness).
Added by Dave Mackay on 03 March 2010
My mother use to work as a nurse in the Smelter but she sadly past away over 4 years ago. (Sandra Cockell)
Added by Rebekah Guthrie on 19 November 2010
My Dad worked at the smelter 1975-1979, he worked in fabrication and his name was Colin Finlayson. I rememeber going into school after Xmas when it closed and our teacher asked how many of us were affected by it and everybody put their hands up. Good memories of smelter panto trips to Eden Court Theatre in Inverness for workers kids.
Added by Brian Finlayson on 08 March 2011
Just found this web page, good to hear you are all alive and kicking, remember my time at Invergordon with much fondness and was the same as everyone else when it closed pretty well devastated, but still have fond memories of even the scallywags, including myself of course, will have to give the village a visit and try and look up some of the old gang now that I’ve retired, good to see your still there Viv a special hello to you and your missus, you to yorkie bar (Peter) hope you still remember me, Sandy Park, cell room 4, c shift
Added by Sandy Park on 17 July 2011
I will have to come out of retirement, and visit Invergordon where we have many friends left, I hope, as I have said it was a devastating experience for us all but I have never forgotten all the people we knew at the smelter, I hope they are still hale and hearty, best wishes, Sandy Park, c shift
Added by Sandy Park on 17 July 2011
We used to drive the trains in and out morning and early afternoon. We had a lot of fun in the smelter trying to get our job done and back to Inverness asap
Added by Richard Maclennan on 21 July 2011
Hi Sandy we are still going strong and have been back in Wales since just after the smelter closed. It's always nice to hear from old friends.
Added by Viv Tibbott on 26 July 2011
Hi all
I remember most of the folk who have added comments. I was shift engineer at the smelter from 1976 till it closed in '81.
I remember Mabel Lynas very well and she lived beside me in Ferry Row across from the old Invergordon Harbour.
I ran into Bill Lynas again at Nigg, where I was engineer until retiring in 2000. Bill was working for Cromarty Firth Engineering, and I think Angus Christie, or Plant Engineer at the smelter was the boss of CFE, or one of the other subbie companies in Alness Business Park.
You may remember me bawling over the tannoy in my still quite strong Belfast accent. I am now retired living in sunny Nairn.
All the best
Willie Scott
Ex A Shift Engineer
Added by Willie Scott on 27 October 2011
Local news is that the smelter site has just been sold by RTZ, the company that bought out ALCAN. The new owners are a local company: Bannermans of Tain.
Added by Alister Ross on 27 February 2012
Great news Alister, let's hope it brings lots of work to InverG.
Added by Jeanette Bremner - Geddes on 28 February 2012
There is a film on the construction of the smelter, google for "the scottish film archive" then 'invergordon smelter'. Shame, this site doesn't allow the url direct link!
Added by Baldy Bane on 01 April 2012
Oh Great news!!! Hope it brings plenty of jobs for the people of Invergordon.
Added by Rosalie Samaroo (Graham) on 06 April 2012
I worked briefly in the Cast House as clerkess in 1979. Had great laughs with Gary Morris, Dave McRae, Jim Gillies, and Sam Taylor. Had some 'challenges' deciphering Willie Aitken`s distinctive handwriting style. Left to have my first daughter - who is now 32 - and I am now a granny, retired teacher.


Added by Christine McLoughlin on 29 April 2012
Hi Viv Tibbott, I used to work as a maintenance bricklayer in the Engineering Dept. under Bert Lunn and I will be retiring shortly and would like if you could the details of the pension services for BACo, I would be most grateful.
Added by Alistair Mackay on 07 July 2012
Hi Willie Scott, I worked as an electrician on D shift from 1975 till closure. I remember your "soft" Belfast accent well. Do you still have a caravan? We do and use it as often as possible. Hello to all the other people on here that I know. Brings back some good memories.
Added by Terry Gregory on 13 September 2012
Hi everyone, for those collegues who need to trace their pensions the address is T.I Group pension scheme. MNPA 13th floor 54 Hagley Rd. Edgbaston Birmingham B16 8PE Tel No. 01216326483 www. smithspensions.co.uk
Hope this info will be of some help. Best wishes Viv Tibbott
Added by Viv Tibbott on 21 October 2012
Hi folks
Great site and nice to hear all the names from the past.
I am Sandy MacNab and worked in the cast shop with some of you. I stayed beside Mabel and Bill when they lived in Obsdale Park. Mabel used to baby sit my kids and I am very glad to hear she is well. Please pass my regards to her.
I was also glad to hear you're well Willie and enjoying sunny Nairn.
I am semi retired now working a three day week as basic but travel round the world setting up and training folks on computer systems and at weekends I am still building houses. I tried and gave up at golf so just stuck to build as a hobby.
The guy who got me into building houses was my friend Sandy Mackay. He was a bricky in the cast shop and I would like to hear of any news of Sandy.
I will be watching this site from now on to hear how the smelter folks are doing.
If anyone would like to get in touch I would enjoy hearing from you. My email is smacnab65@gmail.com

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all
Best regards
Sandy
Added by Sandy MacNab on 24 December 2012
Hi folks, anyone help me get in touch with my friend Robert Rae Ruddie who was for a while senior steward (cell rooms)? If you get this message Peter (yorkie bar) please get in touch at cl4rkpk@hotmail.com
Added by Sandy Park on 04 January 2013
Hi I was a refactory brickie in the maintenance dept. We used to line the baking furnaces in the Bake, also relined the cells in the cell room and the furnaces in the cast shop, dirty smelly and very hot job. If there is any other brickie or joiner who remembers me would you please reply to this comment, thanks.
Added by Alistair Mackay on 04 January 2013
Bob Ruddie became a Ross & Cromarty councillor for a while. Not seen him for a very long time - I'm pretty sure he left InverG many years ago.
Added by Kenny MacCormack on 08 January 2013
My dad was employed in the building of this site many years ago. We lived in Alness while my dad worked there - he had to travel where the work was - we came from Huntly. Just looked at some photos of Invergordon and can't believe how beautiful the place is. All I can remember was going strawberry picking in the summer hols here to earn a bit of pocket money. I will have to return on a holiday one day.
Added by Christine Bremner on 10 May 2013
Hi Terry Gregory, I remember that your love for Liverpool FC and the carry on that you had with another fitter who was an Evertonian which the barter was priceless, I was at the building of the smelter in '69 and started in the baking furnace in September '70 and left with 900 others, 2 days after Xmas 1981.
Added by Alistair Wilson on 01 October 2013
I was the first Millwright apprentice along with Derick MacDonald Electrician (1970 to 74). After my apprenticeship I worked in Material Handling for two years and then the Cast House as Shift Millwright up until the closure.
Added by Roddy Cumming on 17 May 2014
I worked at Invergordon as a contractor for GEC on the transformers for almost 12mnths 1979/80. Remember some great lads who we worked with, an Irish chap named Geoff who was the AEU shop steward, Davy Ross, a little stout fellow in the control room named Ian (I think) and a lovely bloke called Maurice Sutherland. Was offered a job on the maintenance and the chance of a house in Dingwall on the scheme if I fancied it, I was single and not bothered about putting down roots so didn't bother. Shame really as I love Scotland, but bit of luck also I suppose if you consider I would have been out of work pretty much as soon as I would have started. Not been back there for many years, will have to visit soon. Thanks all.
Added by Ant Piddock on 25 August 2014
Just spotted someone mentioning my Dad above, Bob Ruddie.
We moved back to Kilmarnock almost thirty years ago, he lives in Stewarton now. Strangely we spoke about the smelter yesterday and he was telling me about travelling to Westminster to meet Thatcher and then secretary of state George Younger when they were battling to save the place.
Added by Colin Ruddie on 10 November 2014
Sandy McNab, I think you lived behind us in Obsdale Park as well. Is your wife Muriel? My Maiden name is Black, my Dad was Bob Black, we lived at 8A.

My Dad worked in the smelter too, he was a cell supervisor I think. Unfortunately he passed away last year.
Added by Lorraine Wright on 12 November 2014
Hi Lorraine
Yes you did live beside us Obsdale and I remember your family well.
Sorry to hear about Bob passing away. He was a very nice person and I enjoyed our chats over the fence. How is your mum?
My daughter was also called Lorraine and her brother was Scott. They just started school when we moved into Obsdale.
We got the swings etc from the Smelter Camp and put them into Obsdale beside your house and all you kids used to play on them.
These were good days then and even the summers were better.
Good hearing from you Lorraine.
Added by Sandy MacNab on 10 March 2015
I worked on the Smelter with John Gills on the pile driving. I worked also for Taylor Woodrow on scaffolding before going to drive a wagon for Jakey Williamson. Anyone know where his son-in-law lives? They were very nice to work alongside especially Jakey. He lived in Alness. I lived in Shore Road with Brian and Kitty Harnetty while I worked up there. I was known as Paddy as being Irish. I live in Cheshire with my family and grand-children now.
Added by Pat O’Hara on 01 September 2015
Hi, Has anyone tried to follow up on their pension lately? I'm investigating this on behalf of my dad, but not having much success. The details further up don't seem to be coming up with much. Thanks.
Added by Pauline on 04 February 2016
I've posted the means of finding this archive footage of the building of the Invergordon Smelter some time ago, it's 20 minutes long. It can be found on a search for "The Invergordon Smelter" Nostalgia indeed! The site doesn't allow direct links for some obscure reason, but search for movingimage
Title: INVERGORDON SMELTER, the
Reference number: 2216
Date: 1972
Director: d. Oscar Marzaroli
Sponsor: Films of Scotland and the British Aluminium Co. Ltd.
Production company: Ogam Films
Sound: sound
Reference number: 2216
Date: 1972
Director: d. Oscar Marzaroli
Sponsor: Films of Scotland and the British Aluminium Co. Ltd.
Production company: Ogam Films
Sound: sound
Colour: col
Fiction: non-fiction
Running time: 20 mins
Description:
The conception and construction of the aluminium smelter at Invergordon.
Credits:
comm.w. Pat Bowman comm.s. Derek Cooper ph. Martin Singleton ed. Pat Higson, Brian Crumlish
Shotlist:
Title (.06) pan shot of Cromarty Firth (.16) views of Invergordon streets (.28) shots of Inverbreckie farm; buildings and fields (.48) shots of the various early stages of construction work on the jetty at Saltburn (6.27) pan shot of a lorry on the road carrying a load of aluminium conductor bars (6.49) long aluminium bars are cold-formed into shape (7.30) the shaped buzz bars are welded into position (7.40) further shots of the jetty under construction (8.14) cells of the smelter are put in position (9.16) shots at the quayside; the SS Richard delivers raw materials to Invergordon (9.53) exterior shot Sir William Strath, chairman of BA greets Gordon Campbell, Secretary of State for Scotland (10.19) a party of dignitaries and executives tour the plant before its opening (10.55) the Secretary of State for Scotland leaves by helicopter (11.34) general shots of smelter plants ext. (11.48) int. smelter control room (12.01) the buzz bar assemblies beneath the cell rooms (12.06) ext. pan of smelter plant (12.35) various stages in the production of aluminium (19.08) aerial views of the smelter plant (19.57) ecs (20.30)

Baldy Bane

Added by Baldy Bane on 04 February 2016
I am very curious to know if anybody knows who my grandad was, Andrew Anderson, I know he worked at the smelter for a long period of time but couldn't say when.
Added by Robert Anderson on 24 June 2016
The Smelter construction gave me the opportunity to go to Invergordon Academy and know many wonderful Scots. I am retired from the medical field now. I would love to hear from anyone from the Academy 1968-71.
Added by Colin Crow on 04 July 2016
The Andrew Anderson I knew in the smelter passed away in his home town of Wick Caithness. I knew him when I worked there from 1972 till it closed. I am originally from Wick.
Added by James Kay on 01 October 2016
Another interesting film on the construction and operation of the smelter is on this site. There are 2 named persons that I recognise - Gordon Drummond the plant manager and Harry McCall, a shift control room operator at the control room desk. A helicopter scene shows only one cell room chimney in operation, so was probably taken in 1971. Nostaligia ain't what it used to be.
Added by Baldy Bane on 10 December 2016
The smelter football team of 1979. Fill in the missing names if you can.
www.theinvergordonarchive.org/picture/number1623.asp

Added by Baldy Bane on 10 December 2016
It's nice seeing a few names I recognise from Dads days in the smelter. I know he missed the camaraderie after it shut and he made a lot of friends there.

The area hasn't been the same since it closed.
Added by Lorraine Wright on 10 December 2016
Sorry, my previous post refers to another interesting film on the construction and operation of the smelter, this is actally the same film as I previously posted on 4th February 2016. Copy and paste in a search engine -
movingimage.nls.uk/film/2216

Whatever happened to these likely lads in the engineering team - Allan MacLean, Bill Taylor, Ian Cartwright, Matt Douglas, Mike Don, Bert Lunn, Ken MacDonald and Mike Webb?, then there was George Anderson and Harry Anderson - cell rooom shift superintendents and the 2 Poles - Bernard Djaldowski and Bruno Palmowski, I can't remember any others. There was a snowstorm one afternoon in the area, in 1971 as I remember, there was a high wind which made the roads impassable, we had all to stay overnight in the smelter. Then there was the miners' strike when the smelter was the only industry in the area with power. All houses were affected and people were questioning why we still had power with all the area floodlights on!
Added by Baldy Bane on 11 December 2016
There was a third pole Jan mog was and the getman label man ,,heinous can't remember second name
Cell room superintendents Jim bowie ,John mumro to name but a few, yes Jim bruce John duff etc
Added by Claus boyle on 11 December 2016
There was also Ken MacDonald's father-in law who worked in the cast shop, John who was a pole.
Added by Sandy MacNab on 11 December 2016
my predictive text has wrecked havoic on my message

the pole was Jan Magwa (not sure of spelling )
b shift cell room 2 supervisor
his daughter was a shift nurse on the site
the german was heinz (not sure of surname)
his son in law was davy nicol, d shift cell room 4 supervisor
then there was me b shift cell room 3 supervisor
i have often wondered what happened to bill arthur who joined the smelter at the same time as me and as well as from paisley was in the year above me in the camphill school
ian ross from tain sent me a message which i replied to but never heard of again ??
Clive Bevin , cast house superintendant ?
Gorden Moorhouse cell superintendant
john Urquhart cell room supervisor from Tain
big Kilmarnock d shift operator cell room 4

there was a giant on my shift ,bshift a highland man , cant remember is name again b shift
he was a gentle giant and i remember he could lift the shackle on the aluminum bucket with one hand where i struggled with two
i could go on but enough said

Added by Claus Boyle on 12 December 2016
Claus, I'm not sure about Bill but his daughter Linda is still in Alness. She's got children herself now and working in the dentist's in Alness.
Added by Lorraine Wright on 12 December 2016
There was Donald John Mackay, the personnel manager, a Jock Sutherland, a carbon plant operator, John Fyffe who was a baking furnace superintendent, a tubby chap who had a heart attack around 1973 and had to retire I think, John Cook - a Londoner who was an engineering clerk, Ian Milliken a rodding room supervisor, whose wife was a radiographer in the smelter; Angus Sutherland an engineering millwright, there was lad who worked in the baking furnace, I don't remember his name but he lost a leg when standing on the slatted block conveyor, it was drawn into the end of the conveyor - the only serious accident I remember, Donald MacPherson, I think he was an engineering millwright and Jimmy Gibb an electrician both were shop stewards at one time, Willie MacDonald an electrician, Martin Day a shift foreman electrician who came from Dounreay power station. If only there was a source of names from a personnel record, I can visualise faces but don't recall the names.
Added by Baldy Bane on 12 December 2016
Baldy Bane, Ian Milliken's wife is Kay, I still bump into them in Invergordon now and then.

I vaguely remember Dad telling me of someone falling off one of the chimneys but it's a vague memory so could be wrong?
Added by Lorraine Wright on 12 December 2016
Lorraine
If it was not too much bother could you contact Linda and give her my e mail address and ask for either Bill or Margaret to get in toucharge

Clausdee1@AOL.com

Thanks
Added by Claus boyle on 12 December 2016
My father Max Malicki and Peter Odya who were Polish, both worked in the cast house, as did I.
The name of the chap who lost his leg in the bake conveyor was Davie Budge, his mother Belle worked in the smelter canteen.
Ken MacDonald's father in laws name was Johnny Opaska.
Added by Eddie Malicki on 14 December 2016
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Buildings

Portlich StorehouseChurch Recreation HutMilton, KildaryThe Baking Furnace in the SmelterSaltburn West End looking eastSaltburn West EndHigh Street Aerial ViewThe Fountain with Church in the backgroundNess Cottage, September 1986 before demolitionNess Cottage, September 1986 before demolition