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Lower Shader

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 2 months ago
 
Lower Shader is a village with a long history – now mostly beyond recall. The old village, Siadair a' Chladaich, located nearer the Atlantic Ocean shore, was evacuated round about 1851 - after a number of bad harvests had driven the people to near destitution.   Some went across the Atlantic to Canada and over time those who were left moved to the area we now know as Lower Shader.   A few of their descendants still live in the area.
Very interesting landmarks are evident in the Shader landscape. In the seaside area of the old village there was a cell/church named St Peters’s.   When the Reformation eventually reached Lewis the cell/church was destroyed.   Towards the moor there is  a large standing stone “Clach Steidh Linn” and the more well-known “Stein a cleit” ancient stone circle.   The latter site is extremely difficult to interpret and has at various times been claimed as being a chambered cairn, an enclosure, a settlement or, more commonly, a homestead It has not been given the attention and conservation it certainly deserves by Historic Scotland and is getting grassed over year by year. Neither has it been dug up to any extent by archaeologists although the information gained would be of worldwide interest. From the  Stein-a Cleit site there is an uninterrupted view towards Dun Bhùirgh and Clach an Truiseal, which clearly must have been of significance to the people at that time. Other names like “Beag na Gàrraidh” and “Buaile thog na Gàrraidh” stir up romantic images of a village with gardens but these would have been vegetable, and possibly herb, growing gardens enclosed by stone walls.   However, these were left untended when the then landlord refused the people the ground.   “Buaile” is a Gaelic word, meaning a field or enclosure and there is the “Buaile Ghlas” (green or grassy field) and the “Buaile Fhuar” (cold field, probably north facing).     One roadside loch - Loch an Dùin – has the ruins of an island fort but again its history and who fought who has been lost in the mists of time.   The other roadside loch is “Loch Bacavat” where swans and ducks often rest while on passage.    Further out on the moor is “Loch Marabhat” with a stone cairn at one end.
Time moved on and the repopulated Lower Shader grew in size.   A school was built in 1878 at Airidh-an-Tuim with a house for the headmaster attached.  The school had accommodation for 170 pupils and in 1879 had an average attendance of 93 pupils.   In those days there would be five teachers in the school. Old school photos show large classes comparable to the whole intake of the school now.   Like every school it would have had good and bad teachers over the years, but for one ex-pupil one stands out as memorable.  This teacher would take his pupil out of the class to wander round the ancient sites locally looking for any artefacts that a sharp-eyed youngster would detect.   In this they were very successful as he remembers a window ledge in the school covered in flint arrowheads and other artefacts discovered on these forays.   It is not known where that part of Shader history  is now held.
Like many other villages throughout the British Isles Lower Shader lost too many of its young men in wars.    From what records are available, and which do not claim to be completely accurate, in the First World War, or as result of it, there were twenty-two young men lost - two in 1914, three in 1915, one in 1916, three in 1917, three in 1918 and ten in 1919.   The latter is the year of the terrible tragedy of the sinking of the Admiralty yacht “HMS Iolaire” outside Stornoway harbour, when the brave men who had survived the war, and were virtually home, were drowned.    In the Second World War three young men lost their life.    A soldier of the Cameron Highlanders was lost in Italy, a seaman was lost on “HMS Esk” and another seaman, a POW, died in captivity in Germany.   Three others were POW’s and came back home safely to their families. According to the Roll of Honour, altogether fifty one men from Lower Shader served in WWII.
After the end of the WWI when the servicemen came home some kind of normality eventually returned and people began, as people do, to improve their lot.    Jobs were scarce, though, and men had to leave their homes for a part of the year, at least, to find work. A few of the previous emigrants had returned, bringing a modest amount of money into the local economy. Added to this, and of most benefit, in the early 1930’s Harris Tweed began to be woven by crofters at their own homes and, although the first loom north of Barvas was in Melbost, the next loom in the area came to Lower Shader.   At that time the money earned was 11d per yard for a 37 yard tweed,  (= £1.13.11d (or £1.70 in today's money), weaving with a 6 shuttle box loom, but a penny less per yard on a single shuttle loom.
After WWII, on crofts the ploughing and harrowing in Spring, carting peats in Summer and the harvest home in Autumn were all done by horses. But in the the late 1940’s  some relief for both man and beast arrived when a Lower-Shader-born man, residing in Melbost, introduced tractor ploughing and hauling. Over the following years other tractors were bought and the strong work-horses were sold. Change is always with us and the age-old practice of going to the sheilings on the moor in summer with cattle gradually ceased.   People’s intensive labour on crofts was being mechanised but, oddly as in all other villages, less and less crops were grown. People began to erect fences round their crofts, but on the other hand the rearing of cattle for milk ceased and sheep took over the pastoral scene. 
With the somewhat enhanced economy people could buy some form of home entertainment and wirelesses (with an accumulator), gramophones and simple musical instruments were bought for entertainment. As quite a lot of entertainment was oral inevitably there would have been a number of humorous characters to exercise their wit.   One local wit  found a wrecked ship’s wheelhouse on the rocks and quickly told anyone who would care to listen that “a pulpit had come ashore, with even a minister in it”!!   
Lower Shader  had a school, a district nurse,  nearby church meeting-houses, a shop and a tailor, even boasting its own lady osteopath at one time! Self-sufficiency was the order of the day then and most could turn their hand to whatever needed done.     The near locality had a doctor’s surgery, a smithy  and a post office.    
A new age dawned in the 1950’s when electricity arrived.   Eventually televisions and telephones, plus all kinds of labour saving gadgets arrived. Now IT and virtual reality has arrived with its own accompaniments.
More and more new houses were built, and in the 1950’s the last thatched house was evacuated.  Over the years more houses have been built and now (2007) there are about 55 homes, 47 crofts and a council house scheme with around twenty houses.  

 

                                                                                                        Information contributed by Mrs Jessie E Maclean  High Borve

 

Pictures of Lower Shader

 

 

Click Here for Maps of the Area

 

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