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The Invergordon Archive

Quarrying at Inchindown
The Invergordon Archive
Quarrying at Inchindown

Two of the men who carried out the enormous excavation at Inchindown to create the caverns for fuel storage. The date is a guess.
Picture added on 13 February 2005
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Inchindown Underground Fuel Storage Facility
I found it extremely interesting to find the photos on Inchindown. My own father was employed as a labourer on the building of the tunnels. What I have always found interesting about Inchindown is the labour force that was employed on its construction. Essentially, it was an Irish Navvie labour gang from County Donegal, many coming from the village of Burtonport on the west coast of County Donegal. Considering, at that time (1939-41), the Irish Republic was not particularly favourable to the UK's cause, it has always seemed strange to me that they employed a foreign labour force. I knew one individual very well, Cormac McNellis, who in fact stayed with my parents during the construction period. His son Noel, carries my surname, Munro, as a middle name, as a mark of respect that the parents had for my parents.
Added by Don Munro on 11 August 2005
My father, Andrew Ross (Andrew Balmuchy), also worked at Inchindown during the war. He later worked at Taylor's Garage and Munro's Garage in the town. Unfortunately, a lot of the men who worked digging the tunnels at Inchindown had respiratory problems in later life, as he did, because of course, they had no safety masks, etc in those days.
Added by Annella Flynn (nee Ross) on 31 January 2006
My father also worked at Inchindown. He used to cycle to and from there on his bicycle in all weathers. Sometimes he would bring home a lump of venison or a rabbit, a welcome supplement in those days.
Added by Douglas Will on 23 February 2006
If anyone is interest to see more of Inchindown Fuel Tanks they can log onto: www.corestore.org/InchTanks.htm
Added by John Urquhart on 25 February 2006
My uncle Ted Joyce, an Irishman, worked and was badly injured on the tunnels at Inchindown. I am curious as to where the pipeline was situated, i.e. from the tank farm up to Inchindown. I know that it was pumped to the storage tanks at Inchindown and was delivered by gravity from Inchindown down to Invergordon. Where would it have crossed the railway cutting which is quite deep?
Added by Harry O'Neill on 04 September 2007
Harry, I was always under the impression that one pipeline came up through the "old dockyard gate" crossed high Street went up Munro street then up Tomich Road and crossed the railway at the "Bridge" across from the current Academy. There is also a pipeline crossing the High Street beside the present Museum but I think it terminates at the pump house above Seabank Road......but again I could be mistaken?
Added by Duncan Murray on 05 September 2007
When I think about it the bridge that emerged from the "tanks" near Black Park appeared to have no particular purpose. It just seemed to be a bridge built for no reason. But now it makes sense that the bridge was carrying the pipes which led up to Inchindown and the "secret" oil depot.
Added by Bill Geddes on 23 September 2007
Thanks Billy and Duncan, I think you would be correct re the bridge. I think, Billy, that we all wondered about the bridge's usefulness and about the mounds of dirt on its deck. Munroe St used to be a through street from the High St. up to the Inverbreakie road, then the tank farm was built thus terminating Munroe St. just north of Joss St. and isolated the bridge.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 24 September 2007
Would the bridge near the Black Park not have been where Munro Street finished up, in the days before the tanks were built. Munro Street, if I remember, came to a stop, right up against the fence of the Cromlet oil farm.
Added by Gordie Peterson on 24 September 2007
No Gordie, you are slightly out my friend. Munro Street stopped when it reached Joss Street - you crossed Joss Street and it became Tomich Road, which, as you say, did terminate at the Oil farm Fence. The Cromlet oil farm by the way was (as it is now gone) up Castle road Just behind the Manse and below Gordon Terrace or as we knew it "Snob Hill".
Added by Duncan Murray on 28 September 2007
You're right Duncan. Tomich Road (all 100 yards of it) was the wee bit between Joss Street and the "tanks" as we knew them. I spent many hours there practising football (goalkeeping) with Munro Hill. Needless to say at five foot four my footie career never took off. Tomich Road was never properly tarmacked and as a result I spent almost my entire childhood with gravel rash on my knees! I guess the name of the road derived from its eventual destination before the tanks were built?
Added by Bill Geddes on 30 September 2007
That's my Uncle Tom Ramsay on the left. He would likely have lived at the family home of Bardintyre at this time which was a wee house (gone now) over the hill on the other side of the road from Davie John’s Croft (now Munro Construction Quarry). He later moved to Beauly where he worked with the Hydro Board and lived there the rest of his life. He was a brother of the late Ali Ramsay from Heathfield and my Mother Mina who is now 94 and lives at 161 Shillinghill in Alness. I'll be home at Xmas and should get more details from my Mother. I remember her telling me that Tom was a Loco Driver at Inchindown.
Added by Ramsay Bain on 06 December 2008
Hi Ramsay, I remember your uncle Ali when I used to work in Invergordon - also your mum. Please say hello for me to her.
Added by Liz Adam nee Askew on 07 December 2008
Hi Ramsay, are you the same person who worked I think for A.O.C. long time ago and came to the Imperial Hotel, Aberdeen? I also knew your mother, she visited my mother quite often.
Added by David Gow on 22 November 2010
Fantastic piece of local history up there for sure. Stories exist of strange things happening during the (secret) construction (the facility seemingly built around major prehistoric tombs etc) - possibly propaganda made up to "scare" the curious for many years? Has anyone heard any such tales? Good to note HRC recently assisting in archaeology tours etc.
Superb website and invaluable memories/contributions - huge respect due towards the administrators and all the folk who add to this excellent source of local knowledge.
Added by David Fleming on 31 March 2011
I don’t know anything about prehistoric tombs around Invergordon but certainly there are (or were) several chambered cairns in the vicinity of Inchindown, as I have seen several of them. I believe Easter Ross was heavily populated in prehistoric times. It’s possible some stuff may have been destroyed in the course of the oil works as in those days there was not the same value placed on ancient buildings etc.
Added by Bill Geddes on 31 March 2011
Next to Inchindown on the east was/is the farm of Kinrhive where my early childhood was spent with my mother's family, the MacLennans. In the wood above Kinrhive I often went to see remains of a chambered cairn and further east above mid-Kinrhive, long barrow cairns.
As for "strange things" happening, my mother told me that Services personnel living in the Inchindown farmhouse in wartime were frightened by what sounds like poltergeist activity in the house. She didn't link it with the excavations though. Later families living there didn't mention anything strange to us.
Added by Linda McVicar on 28 January 2012
Hi Linda, Good to read about your experiences at Kinrhive. Did you see the programme on BBC One Show of Inchindown? It was fascinating. You probably can still see it on iPlayer. Was speaking to my mum about it and she said my dad worked there as probably many did.

Added by John Urquhart on 30 January 2012
Hello John - yes I saw it and was amazed at the scale of the work. Hope your dad's health didn't suffer as a result of the work - think somebody suggested could be problems - no protective gear. Funnily enough there's a link with my husband. His dad's first job as an engineer was to supervise a team pouring cement into one of the containers. He always wore a terrible old hat and when they had done, his team stole it and cemented it into the inner wall. Ewan has always wondered if it's still there and visible!
About unusual happenings - you know your uncle Willie Mackenzie had a great reputation as a dowser who could find water. He and my step-dad Donald went out to look at the long cairns above mid Kinrhive, and Willie took a hazel twig from the wood. They walked along the top of the big cairn and where the stones dipped every so often, the twig twisted in his hands so that by the end all the bark had come off. Donald told me about it. I wish I'd seen that.
Added by Linda McVicar on 31 January 2012
I lived at Kinrhive farm next door to Inchindown. At Castle Dobie they had a hutted development for the Inchindown workmen, with a large canteen. Coming back one Sunday with my brother from the Free church at Achnagarron, we came by Castle Dobie. We heard music from the canteen and stopped the car to listen. To our surprise, we recognised the voice of Gracie Fields and we sat in the car, listening to her sing "Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye". She was obviously doing a morale boosting tour of the Highlands with ENSA.
Added by Margaret Reid on 26 March 2012
Hullo Ramsey, would your mother have been Mina Pirie in her later years or have I got details all wrong? Used to live on Mains Farm, Invergordon, and she was sister-in-law of my uncle Donald Pirie.
Added by Dan Macdonald on 02 April 2012
Does anyone know anything about the man on the right in the photo? My grandfather James O'Brien was a tunnel miner and was based here, but I don't have any early photos of him, but there is a resemblance, can anyone help? Thank you.
Added by Rhonna MacDonald on 10 July 2012
The man on the right is my grandfather John Hay Angus better known as Piper Angus. He was living at Balintraid Farm at the time where I was born.
Added by John Chalmers on 21 January 2014
There will be a TV programme featuring Inchindown this week - Thursday 23rd October. It is part of Underground Britain, on Channel 5 at 8pm. My husband Ewan was interviewed for it because his father was an engineer on the project.
Added by Linda McVicar on 20 October 2014
I was interviewed about it too Linda, but I wasn't at the building of it, I worked there in the '60s and early '80s, it should be interesting to watch.
Added by David Gow on 21 October 2014
It's good they spoke to someone who'd actually worked there, David. You never know how much they'll show in the end, but we're looking forward to it.
Added by Linda McVicar on 21 October 2014
Although I don't have any pics. My Grandad, Dee Dee Black said he had been involved in the building of Inchindown.

Just remember the story of him taking a bag of sweets there and the guys would all nick his sweets, so one day he took up laxitive sweets...you can imagine the result.

Grandad could be a wicked type when he wanted to be.
Added by Lorraine Wright on 12 November 2014
I can remember when the area (triangle) from the middle pier to the fencing of the dockyard was covered with massive piles of wood. This was obviously the wood used as pit props etc during the building of Inchindown. Does anyone else remember seeing the timber piles?
Added by Doug Will on 13 November 2014
Interested in comments from Don Munro about his parent's friendship with Cormac McNellis. My father, Hugh Forker also worked at Inchindown and was best man at Cormac's wedding. Often spoke of working at Invergordon on oil storage, but never went into any great detail. Recent BBC program "Britain Underground", brought home the incredibly difficult conditions the workforce endured, and how important it was to the war effort (including The Falklands Conflict of 1982).
Added by Neil Forker on 04 September 2015
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