12 May 2019
CHS Annual Report for 2018-19

I’d like to reflect on our past season of talks, which have in equal measure expanded our knowledge of aspects of the history of our town as well as given us an appreciation of a range of historical topics relevant to this part of the Highlands.

From Cromarty’s local history angle, we’ve heard of some less familiar characters — a postie with some wartime secrets and a local lass who advanced in the world of academia. During Fran Tilbrook’s talk on Rosenberg, she introduced us to the range of its former inhabitants — some less well-known than others. They all had their own reasons for living there and we felt that we’d been given a snapshot of life in Cromarty in different eras.

We also found out a bit more about Cromarty in the 1960s, through Gordon Haynes talk concerning two key figures of the town council at the time who had ambitious plans to turn the fortunes of the town around. We viewed the findings of a group of students they commissioned to look at the built environment of the town and come up with some cutting edges ideas.

Tonight we will be learning more about our Courthouse, with its story brought right up to the current day.

A few miles down the road, we heard how the ruins of Kirkmichael were saved from the brink of destruction — an inspiring story and a lesson in dogged determination.

Another character from the area — Dingwall this time, but over a century ago, was local hero - Hector Macdonald. Here was a crofter’s son rising to the highest of ranks in the British Army. Liz Broumley put his rise and fall in the context of army life at home and overseas and the social mores of the day.

Additional subjects covered the road network as it developed across the Highlands, with a focus on what was to become the A9 and also the Yankie Mining Squadron talk gave us a new perspective on wartime naval activity in this area.

You will know that we have again had the benefit of members of the society talking to us about their interests — we value this greatly and would encourage anyone else who has a topic to share to come forward. We are here to offer any help with this.

Our committee puts in a lot of effort to bring suitable subjects and speakers to our meetings and also make each gathering as hospitable as possible. I’d like to say that we miss Jenny Fyfe’s input into our discussions at our committee meetings and thank Sandy for the tribute he paid to her at our December meeting. As always, our thanks go to John McNaught for the brilliant posters he designs each month and to Roger Young for maintaining our website. This year our website has had almost 3,000 visitors with an average of 2 enquiries every month requiring responses.

As the friends group to the Courthouse Museum, we look to give financial and practical assistance. We do this with small grants and also giving a voice to the museum through talks and appeals. This summer in conjunction with the museum we plan to have an entertaining evening looking at some films made about Nigg and Highland Fabricators and social get-together. This will be advertised locally and a small admission charge will go directly to help maintain our local museum. In addition some members of our group will be conducting a guided walk and talk in June for the local history group of the Easter Ross & Sutherland U3A. We will donate our fee to the museum.

Lastly, thank you all for your loyal support during the year and please join us again next season! We’ve finalised the syllabus now, so take a look during refreshments.

Mary Bowers
April 2019

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