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The Invergordon Archive

An outing on the Bull's Hill
The Invergordon Archive
An outing on the Bull's Hill

Although entitled 'An outing on the Bull's Hill', the photo was actually taken where the golf course is now. This area, prior to the golf course and the housing estate, Gordon Terrace etc., was known as the Bull's hill. The pavement ended just west of the railway bridge, from then on it was grass bush and trees.
Left to Right are Fachy Dunn, Chrissie Ross, Annie Dunn, Ryall O"Neill. This used to be a common spot for picnics and at Easter where kids used to roll their eggs.
In the background can be seen part of the American Gardens.
My grandmother looks happy and healthy in this picture, Fachy on the other hand looks like the years have taken its toll.
Old faithful Rega is there again...
Picture added on 23 September 2006
Harry, these photos are great and bring back so many happy memories. Your grandparents are the same as I remember them also your Mum. Is Chrissie the mother of Poppy or have I got that wrong ? Keep these photos coming Harry!!!
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 23 September 2006
Hi Rosalie, this Chrissie Ross is the one that lived above the Walkers on Shore Rd. She had a brother Callum and a sister Cathy Tobitt (spelling?).
Added by Harry O'Neill on 23 September 2006
Thanks Harry, I remember now. Also remember going to the Bull's Hill to roll our Easter eggs and have a picnic. The weather always seemed to be good at that time too!!! Fond memories.
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 24 September 2006
What a lovely photo, Harry. Your mother and grandparents just as I remember them and of course Rega. I remember Mrs Buckie to shout on Rega. Did she keep bones for her?
Added by Catherine MacKenzie(nee Clark) on 25 September 2006
Hello, I'd like to contact Harry O'Neill. I am his cousin in Vancouver, B.C.
My name used to be Marian Birch. Now it is Nattalia Ryana. The photograph is absolutely awesome and brought me to tears. Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you, and find out where you are (Kelowna perhaps?) Love Nattalia
Added by Nattalia Ryana (Marian Birch) on 27 September 2006
Nattalia, I have sent you an email

Catherine, yes she used to call Rega to come and get her "drinkie milkies"
you will remember Marian, she used to play on your swing...
Added by Harry O'Neill on 28 September 2006
Another popular use for the Bull's Hill was sledging--when there was snow. Scores of kids used to turn up to plummet down the hill over and over again.
Added by Bill geddes on 28 September 2006
Aye, and doon the School Brae, Bill.
Added by Keith Varnham on 24 December 2006
Yes Keith, lots of fun on the school brae. Does anyone out there remember a game we played called Reliever or Relievo? - the aim of which was to get to home after getting by a guard, sometimes it was called "browing". You had to get past the person guarding without being browed by him or her and if you were browed you took the place of the guard. The game was unending due to the changing of the guard. Home was usually a wall or the gable of a house, it was a great game and could get quite physical depending on the nature of the guard....
Browing meant the guard had to get the palm of his hand on your brow or forehead.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 24 December 2006
Don't remember that one Harry. Maybe it was one of those games played by you rough, tough kids in the Shore Road gang. Merry Christmas!
Added by Bill Geddes on 25 December 2006
You could be correct there Billy, I can remember being wrestled unceremoniously to the pavement a few times......
Merry Christmas to you also and to others including the site admin. of this excellent site.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 26 December 2006
Reference the game 'Reliever', I can mind playing this up by the gas works on Joss Street - plenty of places to hide and try sneaking back to the base. We also played it around Outram St and Shore Road. To close may I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year "Lang may your lum reek"
Added by Doug Will on 29 December 2006
I remember the "gas works" well as I often used to sneak in there for a look around. Does anyone know if this actually was once a gas works? I have no memory of gas fittings in any houses. If there once was a gas works when did it close? I seem to remember the place known as the gas works was in fact an electrical installation of some kind?
Added by Bill Geddes on 30 December 2006
Harry, Doug and Will, I can't remember a "gas works" as such but I do remember roller skating in a big building in Joss Street which I thought belonged to the RAF. However it was a great place to play. I wish you all a Very Happy and Healthy New Year.
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 01 January 2007
The gas works, owned by Invergordon Town Council, was built in 1872 and decommissioned in 1921. It certainly made a fine adventure playground in the 1950s. I believe some flats were built on the site in the late 70s, but have been or are about to be demolished because of fears of toxic contamination. Happy New Year to everybody, slainte!
Added by Rod Bell on 02 January 2007
The 1880 OS map shows a gasworks roughly on the site of the Joss Street flats. It probably closed fairly soon after domestic electricity was introduced, which was probably in the 1920s. Many small towns had their own gasworks - part of Tain's still survives on Shore Road. Coal would have been brought in by sea or rail to produce the gas.
Added by Estelle Quick on 02 January 2007
Rosalie, I think the gas works were well before our time as I can vaguely remember that in that area just before the war they used to have the fair ground there. Also, in the area past the scout hut was used for the fairs too. You can imagine what it was like there with all the sailors enjoying themselves on all the different sideshows.
Added by Doug Will on 02 January 2007
Bill, as far as I can remember the building or shed was still there but not used as a gas works, that was before our time. In fact I believe my great grandfather was the lamplighter. The street lights were gas lit. I dont recall any gas in the homes but there may have been some in some of the well-to-do homes. I can only remember some paraffin lamps and then of course the electricity came in.
Do you remember the old ranges used for both heating and cooking being replaced with electric cookers? That would be around 1952 - the range was replaced with nice tiled fireplaces at the same time.....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 03 January 2007
Thanks for that Harry. You could be right about gas only being supplied to the better off. When we lived in the But & Ben in Munro Street I can remember we had two paraffin lamps on the mantelpiece for lighting as the ceiling was always getting whitewashed. Perhaps electricity came along to quickly after the gas installation and took all the business?
Added by Bill geddes on 03 January 2007
Rosalie, the roller skating was in the NAAFI stores (big Nissan huts) on the North side of Joss Street. I was too wee to participate but I remember spectating. I think access was gained by getting through a window but by that time 1948(?) they were no longer in use, although one of the huts was used by the Army cadets. The Nissan huts had smooth concrete floors and made a brilliant rink. Outside of the huts was a large expanse of concrete which was used as an outside play area. I can remember hordes of kids playing "Kick the can" on dark winter nights. More fun than Gameboys?
Added by Bill geddes on 03 January 2007
Hello Harry. My recollection of the old gas works building was that the Hyro Electric stored equipment inside it. The doors had a gap between them, and it was always interesting to have a look at what was inside. I believe one of my distant relations also worked at the gas works, according to my Grandmother, Mrs Taylor.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 03 January 2007
Hi Rod, same to you.....as you have given dates, do you have any other info on the gasworks, it would have been a MGP (manufactured gas plant); also there was or still is a Power house in Invergordon up close to the church and scout hall, often wondered what it powered?
Added by Harry on 03 January 2007
Hi Harry, the power house you mention, up beside the church, is probably the oil pumping station for the tanks. There are, or were, two houses beside it where the pumphouse staff used to stay.
Added by Gordie Peterson on 04 January 2007
Bill, your comments brought back so many memories. I remember giving my skates to Amelia Muckle while I crawled through the window, then held hers while she crawled through. "Kick the Can" was a great game played in that huge area and wonderful fun. When I tell my grandchildren these stories, they think I had the time of my life. I agree!
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 04 January 2007
The gasworks was presumably a manufactured gas plant with coal being imported by sea. There is some record of work being done to the west pier in the 1820s for the gas works. As far as I can remember the power house up behind the church was owned by the Admiralty, and may have been involved in pumping and producing the steam necessary to keep the oil fluid enough to be pumped to/from Inchindown via Castle Dobbie, where in the 50s I remember there being valve equipment and oil and steam finding its way to the surface just behind the old concrete water reservoir.
Added by Rod Bell on 04 January 2007
Thanks Gord and Rod, that makes sense, the heavy oil would need heat to improve the viscosity and make it easier to flow.....all very interesting stuff. I do remember the houses next to the Power House and all this can be seen on some of the photos from the air on the site.....
Added by Harry on 05 January 2007
Hi everyone ..plenty of comments on the gas works and oil pumping stations...I also remember the Hydro board storing electrical gear in the big shed (Joss street Garage at the present). Gordie, do you not remember Kath Ross that stayed beside the pump house at the church - she married Kenny Mclean from Shore Road and they emigrated? There is also another Pump station (converted to a private dwelling) on the line to Inchindown - sits at the foot of Tomich Brae.
Added by Duncan Murray on 06 January 2007
Yes Duncan I remember Cath Ross. Her father Murdo had a small motor bike, and if I remember, Cath passed her motor bike test about the same time I did. Kenny was the scout master after Jackie Coogan. They emigrated to Aussie after they got married. I am sure that I can remember Keith Hemitage's grandfather living there also, before he retired, and started driving cars up from the works, to Willie Munro's garage.
Added by Gordie Peterson on 07 January 2007
Gord and Duncan, I recall a Ken Mclean that went by the nickname of Pussy and had a younger brother nicknamed Kitten, same guy? Lived on Shore Rd near the Will family..
Added by Harry O'Neill on 07 January 2007
I remember Ken Maclean as the Scoutmaster when I first joined the Scouts - I also remember a Scout Camp at Portlethen near Aberdeen when as an act of revenge for confining some of us to camp for some misdemeanour or other we put salt in his tea! I am not sure who was involved but I think Jock Mitchell may remember the incident.
By the way Ken's brother Duncan still lives in the town.
Added by Graham Mackenzie on 07 January 2007
Aaaah Scout camps! Now you have really opened a can of worms. One of my enduring memories was an incident at Grantown-on-Spey when the younger of the Leekie sons (Michael Ross?) had an unfortunate accident to a very intimate part during a kick about in the centre of camp. Oh how we laughed but in fact it was very upsetting for him. I cannot go into detail but it involved a zinc pail.....
I remember being very homesick at this camp. I think our transport to the camp was in the back of an ex-Army truck with a canvas cover - very uncomfortable, squashed in there with all the tents and dixies etc.
I also went to a camp at Troon which I enjoyed much more.
Added by Bill geddes on 07 January 2007
Hi Harry .."pussy" that's right ..couldn't quite recall the nickname but yes that's the Kenny that I was meaning...if you recall ..every one had a nickname in our younger days around Invergordon..Kenny's brother Duncan still stays about Invergordon.. he used to work in Frews Garage till it closed a few years ago..
Added by Duncan Murray on 08 January 2007
Hi Guys, yes Graham I remember the incident at Portlethen. Pussy lost it and had us all out in the field at night running round the perimeter with himself and the senior scouts chasing us with knotted ropes. I always knew Pussy's brother Duncan as Token. I remember one particular scout meeting when Kenny (Pussy) and Duncan (Token) fell out and had a real good square go in the hall.
Graham, if I remember correctly didn't Bill Smith (Techie Teacher) have to accompany us to Portlethen as there was a question about Kenny being too young to have the responsibility? Bill arranged a visit to Pittodrie for the troop where we got a conducted tour of the stadium and watched some training.
Added by John Mitchell on 09 January 2007
I remember Ken Maclean now. He was in my class at school, and if I remember correctly he was very good at carpentry work. He lived on Shore Road and had a younger brother Duncan. They lived along the road a bit from the Will family.
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 09 January 2007
Yes John, I remember the camp at Portlethen, when Bill Smith was there as a responsible adult. I think he was on some teaching course in Aberdeen, and only stayed at the camp at nights. I also remember the visit to Pittodrie. Fraser (Boobie) Legge was the chief cook, but all of us were the bottle washers. Didn't knowing that you had to wash the dixie put you off porridge. You are right about Ken MacLean losing his temper - it didn't do us any harm, but I don't think he would be allowed to hit kids today.
Added by Gordie Peterson on 10 January 2007
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Saltburn Fund-raising GroupMacGregors supermarketFay Mackenzie and Angus MackenzieReading about the planned closure of the SmelterMy mother at the Royal HotelGrandad Geordie Ross and StyloGeordie Ross and meDon RossGeordie MacKenzie Kathleen MacKenzie and Don Ross