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The Invergordon Archive

Sale of Inverbreakie Farm
The Invergordon Archive
Sale of Inverbreakie Farm

John Mann sells his farm to make way for the new Smelter. Can the date be pinpointed as the year is a guess and what about some of the faces?
Picture added on 12 February 2005
I remember it well Harry. I did most of my "tattie howking" at Inverbreakie. Every morning the meeting outside the church was a bit tense as you never knew if you would get picked or not. I was very small and did not get picked at first but kept putting myself at the front so that I could not be ignored and always ended up with a days work. The great thing about the job was that the kids got paid the same as the adults - democracy lived!
Added by Bill Geddes on 20 February 2005
Inverbreakie Farm was on the road to Tomich Farm..When we were going to Tomich to pick the tatties, all the kids would holler as we passed by Inverbreakie in the bogie, "wakey wakey Inverbreakie", then duck down again and try to get warm as it usually was frosty....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 20 February 2005
It was also a gift from heaven, as you got an exemption from school to go tatty hawking... getting back to the frosty mornings... remember the tractor driver at Tomich farm would warm up our boots on the exhaust of his ferguson....also we would calculate the number of dreels (rows) and put our thermos and lunch there, sometimes the calculation was off and they ended up crushed under the digger....but then we would make a fire and throw some tatties in there and that was lunch, we called it "half-yoking" I am sure some others remember that.....
Added by Harry on 01 June 2005
The year was 1967, an October Saturday.
Added by John Sutherand on 30 December 2005
This is the roup or auction of farm machinery and equipment at Inverbreakie when John Mann had sold the farm to British Alluminium. John Mann is standing to the right-hand of the auctioneer who has a stick in hand. Immediately to the right of John Mann is Andy Rose, my uncle who was a farm labourer at Inverbreakie. Andy was the son-in-law of the grieve Sandy Fraser, married to his daughter Cathie. Andy later worked for a good number of years at Dalmore Distillery and lived at Salvasen Crescent, Alness. My interest in this photograph is that I was born at Inverbreakie in 1949. My father was Sandy Fraser, son of the grieve, Sandy Fraser and his wife Nelly who was in earlier years the dairymaid on the farm working with Cattleman, Jack Sutherland. From my younger days I also remember - Jock Davidson, Farmer (who owned the farm prior to John Mann) Charlie Bain, the Shepherd, Alex Lyall, Horesman, and Jock Knox, who after the sale of the farm worked at the Royal Garage, Invergordon. Does anyone remember my father Sandy Fraser, who died at Kildary in 1959, aged 34 years? I have been scanning with interest all the older Invergordon Academy school photos to see if either him, his brother Tommy, or sister Cathie (who were all in the Royal Navy) were featured, but alas no luck.
Added by John Fraser on 13 April 2006
Just a personal thought - farm land should be kept as farm land and not sold for industrial purposes. As it turned out the smelter was a flop and now all that good agricultural land is gone....or is there still some farming going on?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 14 April 2006
Yes, some of the fields, which made up Inverbreakie Farm are still being farmed, most likely by the Mains, or Kincraig, which were owned by Alex Davidson. Those adjacent to the Invergordon to Tomich Road down as far as the Black Ditch, a burn that ran all the way down to Rosskeen. The Black Ditch formed the border between Inverbreakie and Tomich Farms. You may remember there was for many, many years a tinkers encapment at the Black Ditch with some well known characters of the time living there on a long-term basis. They used to come tattie howking at Inverbreakie and were also often seen scavenging at the local "dump, " just down the road from Inverbreakie Farm cottages, which were on the roadside, some half a mile from the actual farm. There are distillery warehouses now built on the dump site. I must admit I was a wee bit frightened of some of the Black Ditchers as a young lad if I met them while walking between Inverbreakie and Invergordon. However, I do remember whether on the tattie field or a chance meeting on the road, they had the utmost respect for my grandfather - Sandy Fraser, the Inverbreakie Grieve, whom I mention in an earlier message relating to this photo.
Added by John Fraser on 22 May 2006
John, remember the tinkers, think they were Macphee's.....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 May 2006
I think you are right Harry. The one that sticks in my mind most was a dark swarthy bloke whose first name was Donald and maybe was a MacPhee. Years later I saw him in Alness where they moved to after the Black Ditch encampment was closed down, again at time of the smelter. He would be in his mid 60s now.
Looking at your first comment above on the tattie picking I remember how fortunate I was that my grandfather was the grieve at Inverbreakie. I nearly always got to sit up at the front of the bogie and steer the horse down the field while the baskets of tatties were emptied into it then up to the pit or the shed to tip them. Don't know how old you are Harry, I'm 57yrs, but do you remember any of the old farmhands whom I mention in my paragraph dated 13th April. They were all well known around Invergordon. Everybody used to meet in the stable in the morning to start work. I can remember 13 or 14 people working on Inverbreakie in the early days and the farm only had about 300 acres. I also remember in the 50s/60s my grandfather would on a Saturday night walk down to the town with his dog Lassie into the Comm for a pint - I think in those days the pubs closed at 9.30pm.
Added by John Fraser on 23 May 2006
John, I can only remember Alex Lyall, knew his sons David and Sandy...speaking of the tinkers, do you remember a Geordie, walked with a side to side sway and was nick-named Rockin' Geordie..
I just turned 65 John, working for the Government now (pension)...Where is the town dump located now then? - you say the distillery warehouses are where the old dump used to be....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 24 May 2006
Harry, can you remember the Mackenzies from Black Park? They were my grandparents. Many a day I went along the dump road with my mother to see them. The dump is still there but is not in use. I too can remember the black ditchers. I can remember there were Williamsons and MacPhee. Big George Williamson had an Austin A30 van and it was always immaculate. I can recall Rockin' Geordie used to work in the picture house Invergordon.
Added by John Urquhart on 24 May 2006
I remember Rebecca MacPhee. She never did or said anything to me but I was always frightened of her.
Added by Anne James now Anne Bridges on 24 May 2006
The MacPhees lived in "bender" style huts they made themselves from tree branches. It is astonishing that in living memory people lived under such conditions, I remember Maggie and Donald MacPhee in particular. I imagine they suffered substantial discrimination - they were never very clean (how could they be otherwise?) and people tended to give them a wide berth. I cannot recall them ever causing anyone any problems; hopefully life has improved for these families.
Added by Bill Geddes on 24 May 2006
John - sorry, don't remember, but might if you give me a first name for the Mackenzie you mention. There were also tinker or squatter's huts on the naafi grounds; they might have moved there from the terrible accomodations they had at the Black Ditch....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 24 May 2006
Does anyone know why it was called the Black ditch? - often wondered why, also Black Park?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 25 May 2006
Interesting question Harry. The Black ditch seemed to be a man-made drainage channel (I think it ran into the Roskeen Burn). At some point it must have been dug to prevent the area from becoming too boggy to cultivate? Maybe someone in Inverg could research in the Ross-Shire Journal as such an enterprise would surely have been reported. The ditch was not very pleasant so the name could be descriptive but this would not apply to Black Park. I wonder if there was once a big landowner called Black?
Added by Bill Geddes on 26 May 2006
Harry, if you go to the contributors and under my name you will see the family photo of my mum's family. You may know Angus, he worked for Gilbert Ross Ironmongers in Invergordon; Kenny worked for the Dockyard. My father's name was Alec Urquhart - he was a painter with D G Reid.
There was a family of Williamsons and Caquhouns as far as I know. Donnie Caquhoun was in school with me; he now lives in Alness. The Williamsons are in Alness as well, not sure where.
Added by John Urquhart on 26 May 2006
John - I certainly know Angus, for of course he was my stepfather for 37 years. I think about him so often and miss him very much; he was such a lovely man. He did not have children of his own, but he had 'as good as' for I couldn't have loved him any more had he been my father.
Added by Heather Anderson (nee Booth) on 12 January 2007
The 'black ditch' ran through Ord Farm land as well. It was quite a walk down from the farm to Saltburn (no lighting) and into Inverg. I had many frightening moments when cycling home by one of the McPhee's jumping out of the hedges. Nothing sinister, usually wanting a ciggie or a shilling!! Jack Sutherland's (Inverbreakie cattleman) wife's father and two brothers were labourers on Ord, Fred Charlie & Alick Mackenzie.
Added by Jane nee Fraser on 27 February 2007
Harry and Bill, I remember the tattie howking well. When we passed Inverbreakie farm to go to Kincraig we all would shout from the bogie "Wakey wakey Inverbreakie". After my very first day at the tatties I thought I was paralysed the next morning when I couldn't move!! Soon got used to it though.
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 02 March 2007
Hi Rosalie. Yep, first day was always the toughest. I think I picked at every farm except Kincraig. Lovely Kerr Pink's were my favourite tatties. At the days end I looked like I weighed a ton with all the ones tucked into every pocket or under my jumper to take home...I guess 'wakey wakey Inverbreakie" was universally chorused....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 03 March 2007
I remember Alex Lyall, he was Jim Lyall’s dad. Cannot remember his brother's name. Inverbreakie had Nuffield tractors and chain pickers for lifting the tatties.
Added by Gordon Will on 01 March 2010
Gordon, his brother's name was Davey. The chain digger was a lot better than the spreader, right?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 02 March 2010
The tall fair haired chap (head only) on the right two away from the auctioneer looks like Brian Ross, Torran farm. I remember tattie picking at Tomich, Delny, Pollo and Rhives, hard work but a good laugh and lots of tatties to take home. Great fun getting picked up by the tractor and trailer in the dark mornings, no worries about health and safety then and no accidents either.
Added by Liz Taylor nee Askew on 02 March 2010
Hi Liz, that is so true....no health and safety then and no accidents! It was hard work but most important...we had great fun. The money wasn't bad either! Happy Days.
Added by Rosalie Graham (Samaroo) on 04 March 2010
Ah now I get the connection! My father had the name "Inverbreakie" for his retirement house in Wagga Wagga and never did explain why. His mother was a Mackenzie whose father emigrated from Scotland to Australia in the 1860s. So while this doesn't relate directly to the photo, it does explain something to me.
Added by Ian Baird on 22 October 2010
Re the tatties, the money was great and the kids got paid the same as the adults.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 October 2010
Yes Harry, a very early example of equal pay for equal work. Sadly, in the UK at least, this is still an issue, especially in relation to female workers.
Added by Bill Geddes on 25 October 2010
Hi, does anyone know of a Jim Beattie who I believe may have worked on Inverbreakie Farm after the B.A. bought it?
Added by George Loudon on 23 December 2014
Does anyone remember the army barracks where Milnafua is now?
Added by Frankie Carrison on 24 June 2015
I remember the old wrecked buildings but too young to remember much more. Always a bit spooky though...
Added by Liz Taylor nee Askew on 24 June 2015
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