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High Borve

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 7 months ago

High Borve





 As the name suggests the village is situated on a high elevation.   In Gaelic it is called "Am Baile Ard".   This translated is "the High Village" and does not give any indication of where the village is situated.    Officially and in crofting law it is called "Mid Borve" and this gives a clue as to its whereabouts, being part of  the larger village of Borve.
There were three families living in the old Mid Borve (an t-Seann Bhaile) and they were forced to go to Canada in 1851, sailing from Stornoway against their wishes.    It is not known why the village was depopulated and repopulated so soon after.   Part of the village is called "am Baile Meadhanach" and was at one time part of Galson farm and the remains of those houses could be seen up till about fifty years ago.
The village now (2008) is populated mostly by descendants of people who were evicted from their homes in Reef, in Uig, in 1851.    These were related Maclean, Mackenzie and Matheson families and they made up six of the crofting families, out of a total of nine crofts.     In the year 1863 one family of Macleans (four adults and one child) and a family of Mathesons, (two adults and four children) emigrated  to Canada.   When the Matheson croft was vacated it was then tenanted by a MacKay family from Galson.    When these families were evicted from Reef the men were ordered to make their way by sea  to High Borve and the women and children, with their meagre belongings,  had to go by horse and cart, along what would then have been merely a track.
These families would have been grateful to be allocated crofts, notwithstanding that the lie of the  land was very different from what they had in UIg.    Most of the crofts are on a steep gradient and each croft is scattered in about half a dozen different places of varying sizes.
The ninth croft has a different background.    This family of Morrisons arrived in 1866,  from the island of Scarp in Harris, via Ballantrushal.    This was a blacksmith's family and up until after WW2 they operated as the village smiddy until tractors took over from horses in croft work.    The blacksmith would call in every morning at the nearest house to collect a glowing ember to light the fire  ready for the shaping of horseshoes. 
The smiddy served as the hub of the village for the menfolk but their womenfolk had a different description for it!
 There would be sparks flying in the smiddy but  nearby there were sparks flying too unbehest at the village kiln, which after it went on fire once or twice was abandoned.   Down a steep hill by the riverside were two mills for grinding corn and their remains can still be seen today.
It is impossible now to picture the kind of village life then and up until WW1 there would not have been much change.   The village was small yet it lost three servicemen aged 19, 21 and 23.   In WW2 no one was lost from the village but people lost relations in other villages, so none were immune from the horrors of these wars.
The coast here is very broken and difficult but at one time two boats fished for cod and ling, which were plentiful,  and which would  then be salted away for the winter.   The seas were often rough but families had to have some protein in their diet  along with the potatoes and oat and barley bannocks.
In the mid 1940's another age old custom was abandoned and that was the women and children taking the cattle to the shielings on the moor, which were three miles away in a glen called "An Gleann Ruadh" (Russet Glen) and there were seven shielings in all.
Electricity arrived in the early 1950's and the housewives gained by having electric washing machines and irons to lessen their burden of work.   Every other kind of tool, gadget and gizmo powered by electricity has arrived since then and dependence on electricity is very high.  
The electricity is not locally produced but comes by cable from the mainland of Britain, powered by hydro-electric, coal-fired and nuclear power stations.   As the place is very windy for a lot of the time it would make sense for wind turbines to create electricity and that may happen in the future.

At one time there was a small shop by the roadside and also a petrol pump (now dismantled) that had to be arm cranked.   Although private cars were few and far between petrol was required for the fledgling "Galson Motors" which was set up around that time.   With petrol now at £5.90 a gallon, £1.18 a litre,  petrol then being priced at (circa) 4/- a gallon seems like another planet!

In the photo above on the right can be seen the arched stone bridge which crossed the Borve river between Borve and High Borve, but which has now been superceded by a new bridge complete with pavements, lighting and safety rails.   In bygone days there was so little traffic on the road that the young lad's and lassies favourite dancing  platform was on the bridge, accompanied by a melodeon,  making use of the shelter it 's sidewalls created for them.
There is not a lot of wildlife to be seen around, greylag geese are the most common.    Even gulls and crows are scarce - due to the bins that take everything away to landfill sites and scraps of food are not thrown out to them.    In the last 10 years sparrows have declined considerably.   In Spring and Summer larks, pied wagtails, wheatears, thrushes, fieldfares come around, blackbirds sing their lovely songs and later in August the corncrake can be heard - but not seen!    Rabbits have virtually disappeared from this area, hedgehogs can be seen now and then (mostly dead on the road).   Most missed are the working collie dogs, who brought their own distinct kind of life to the village, and  were in every house and although there are more sheep there than ever before dogs are not used to round them up.
High Borve is situated to the north of Borve. To view maps of the local area click here

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