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Borve

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 1 month ago

FIVEPENNY   BORVE

 

Galson Estate Trust

 

Isle of Lewis

 

 

 

 
 
Sunset taken from the village of Borve
 

 

 

 

Borve /Borgh is a long established village and its Norse name is common in a number of Hebridean islands.   The meaning of the word is “fort”- same as dùn -  so the name originates from the ruinous fort or broch Dùn Bhuirgh at Melbost.  In law the name is “Fivepenny Borve”, and relates to the system of land valuation used  in the creation of the first  crofts.  These crofts now number 52 and are mostly long and narrow. There is no record of the place ever having been a farm.

 

 

Before it became what we now know as a crofting village it would have been a small settlement (baile/clachan) of a number of houses grouped together, the land around it being tilled communally by the inhabitants.  This place is possibly what is called locally “An Seann Bhaile”, (the old village), on a slightly elevated part of land near the shore, with its stone ruins still very visible.

 

 

In the early 1700’s there were only 16 tenants in Fivepenny Borve.   These tenants paid their rent in Scots Money and amounts of meal, butter and mutton corresponding to the size of their crofts.   It is very difficult to make a connection from the surnames then to anyone living now as they used patronymics. As the crofters could not speak English and the factor could not speak Gaelic they came up with interesting ‘hybrids’ such as McCoil Oig, McHormoid, McEan Oig, Keard, etc.   As with all the villages from Melbost to Shawbost the parish name then was “Cladach”, North and South Galson being in the parish of Ness.  

 

 

In the mid 1800’s an increase of 36 crofts was made to accommodate those unfortunate enough to be cleared from their homes in other villages.

Although not having a really safe landing place yet there were fishing boats in the village with enough catches to justify a salting-house for the fish.  Sadly, drownings did occur and many fishermen were lost in rough weather in the1800’s.

 

 

Through the years different facilities existed.  Over a century ago there was a small school.  Later two meeting-houses (Presbyterian) were built.  A doctor’s surgery was built in the early 1900’s in the time of Dr John Ross, who followed his father Dr. Roderick Ross.   This large stone house is now being renovated to provide tourist accommodation.   In the 1960’s an NHS doctor’s surgery was built which is now a busy surgery/primary care centre.  There was a full-time post office, then reduced to part-time and now closed.  

A small timber-built hall at Galson School  - used by the ATC (Air Training Corps) and the Highlands & Islands Film Guild, to the great delight of us school children on Friday afternoons -  was bought and donated by the Clan Line and transferred from Galson to Borve.  They did this because of the help given to the crew of 66 of the 7000 ton  s.s. Clan MacQuarrie when it went aground in 1953.   This hall is still used but is very soon to be replaced by a large new community centre more appropriate to the requirements of the present day.    

Over the years there were small shops and now there is a mini-market where groceries, newspapers etc. are available, plus petrol and diesel.   There is a very pleasant pottery much visited by passing tourists.   For a few years a hair-dressing salon existed, but it is now gone.  

Throughout all these years, through wars and emigrations the crofting lifestyle was carried out by the fit and able, both male and female, which created a tight-knit community.   The world wars, though, left a void as seventeen were lost in WW1. In WWII (according to available records) - two Seaforth Highlanders, one Scots Guard and one seaman lost their life.

Along with the 52 croft houses now in Borve there is up to 30 private houses and in Gearra Mòr 8 families are resident, which represents a fairly large village. 

 Jessie E MacLean

 

 

 

-o0o-

 

 

 

 

 
On Jan 31st 1953, Islanders from the Borve area rescued 66 crew from the grounded cargo ship, Clan MacQuarrie. In winds gusting 100mph, it was the biggest ever rescue carried out using breeches buoy in a single operation. As a gesture of thanks to the villagers the shipping company, Clan Line, paid for the construction of the village hall. 50 years on the hall still stands but has reached the end of it's useful life, plans are now in place for a new multipurpose hall on the site and fundraising has been taking place for a number of years to put this plan into action. To find out more click here.
 
 
 
 

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