Pennyghael in the Past Historical Archive

Pennyghael in the Past Historical Archive

How the Archive came into being

It all began in 1998 when Ros Jones from Pennycross thought of a way of raising money for the Pennyghael Community Association, as it then was.

She suggested making a booklet containing copies of old photos of the area, lent to us by senior community members, with a brief explanatory note for each. It sounded a good idea, so we began asking around for contributions.

The idea proved to be so popular that we quickly had more than enough material for a booklet and took the decision to mount an exhibition in the Old School (Pennyghael Community Hall). Jackie Bradfield, Eileen Goll, Ros Jones and I did a bit of digging into historical records, so that we could back up the photos with a few facts and we mounted the Exhibition for a week during the summer of 1998, selling the booklets as well.

The Exhibition was more successful than we could ever have imagined. One of the main attractions were enlarged copies of old Pennyghael School photos, when we asked people to name the children. News of the exhibition spread – especially down to the Ross, and many elderly folk were coming up, comparing notes as to who was who and, while looking at the other exhibits, reminiscing on aspects of life between the Wars in the Pennyghael area. If only those reminiscences could have been recorded ! At the time I did not know enough of any of the people mentioned to be able to remember what was said….. all very frustrating, but a very enjoyable week.

We were then asked when the next Exhibition was to be mounted……

So the following year we did indeed produce another booklet and a second Exhibition. This time we concentrated on the area north of Loch Scridain – from the Kinloch junction round to Burg, Gribun and Inch Kenneth. We ran for 10 days rather than a week, and produced more copies of the booklet. Various artefacts were lent us for the duration as well as photographs and once again, it was a great success and the PCA funds were augmented very satisfactorily.

Once this second Exhibition was dismantled, the problem was – what was to be done with the material we had found and exhibited? It seemed a shame to throw away what had taken so long to assemble. In the end, I took everything back to Tavool, where I was then living, and stored it all. And that was the start of the Archive. I had got the bug.

Once I had moved away from Tavool into Balevulin the burgeoning Archive was housed in a purpose-built 'Den'. I wanted to collect as much historical information as I could about "our" area and began with all the existing documentary sources I could find. This included Old Parish Records; Census Records; Statistical Accounts ; articles submitted to newspapers ; material from County Archives; Lochbuy Papers from the Scottish Record Office ; National Map Library ; Valuation Rolls ; O.S. Name Books ; etc., etc.

Then came a wonderful opportunity when Jo Currie, author of "Mull, the Island and its People", gave me permission to copy any of her research material for PPHA. After 25 years, Jo was donating all this material to the Mull Museum and let me have free reign before it was sent up north. Her research was thorough, accurate and far-reaching and was – still is - a wonderful resource.

The material was beginning to mount : the question arose – how to store it all in a form whereby it could be easily accessed.

As one travels through Brolas, one passes houses at Kilpatrick, Ormsaig, Beach etc etc. It took me some time to realise that the names did not originally refer to the solitary house, but was the name of the farm on which the houses were situated. It seemed to me that it would be interesting to gather together the information that was specific to each farm. So that is what has been happening in the last 15 years or so.

In 2007 PPHA took part in the RCAHMS project, Scotland's Rural Past. It was a five year project to assist local organisations to help record and research the slowly disappearing rural settlements and landscapes. Archaeologists came across and trained us in making measured surveys of buildings and settlement sites. They lent us all the equipment necessary and were always available for help, advice and encouragement. A group of us had already started this work some time before, but now we forged ahead with enthusiasm. Once the sites had been recorded, they were written up and the material sent to the RCAHMS where details can now be found on Canmore. Welcome to Canmore (Search Site Records)

The PPHA field study group…… those who have taken part over the years; Bob Allan, Roger and Sarah Blackwell, Jackie Bradfield, Pat Broers, John Clare, Michael and Linda Hadow, Richard Hallam, Lynn Harris, Graham Kent, Christine Leach, Caitlin MacLennan, Joy & Bryan Rains, Sue Reed, Trevor Roche, Jane Shillingford, Anita Tunstall, Diana Warwick.

The Archive now holds detailed information on each farm within the postal district of Pennyghael. From the west, it includes Kilpatrick, Ardchrishnish, Ormsaig, Beach, Beinn an Aoinidh, Torrans (3 farms and Torrans Township), Killunaig, Pennycross, Carsaig, Carvalog, Pennyghael, Kinloch, Airds of Kinloch, Ulvalt, Ardvergnish, Dererach, Killiemore, Kilfinichen, Tiroran, Scobul, Slochd, Salachry, Culliemore, Tavool, Burg, Knockroy, Cambus, Achonnaill, Ballymeanach, Gribun and Inch Kenneth.

There is also a photo archive ; a series of recorded interviews with many of those with connections to Brolas or Ardmeanach ; details of churches, burial grounds and schools in the area ; 1910 Inland Revenue Surveyors' Field Books ; a Library of books about Mull ; 1st and 2nd editions (1881 & 1900) of OS maps 6inch to the mile; Tobermory Procurator Fiscal files from Lochgilphead…. and more. I'm not a genealogist, but family history is inevitable when looking at the history of each farm and a lot of investigation has gone on over the years.

If you have an interest in any aspect of the history of this area, and would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


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