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Fraser's house at Portmahomack

Fraser's house at Portmahomack

Date Added: 04 November 2010 Year: 1930 Institution Name: dnhhl Cat No: | 2010_105_06 | Picture No: 9784

Monochrome photograph of Portmahomack. The railway driver Tom Frasers’ father was an Embo fisherman and they used to go over and stay at Portmahomack for the safer fishing waters. The house with a cross was the one owned by Mr Fraser.

Dimensions: jpeg file


My father William Alexander Mackay (Willie M) worked on pier repairs at Portmahomack for the Ministry of Agriculture in the mid 1930s. Previously he had worked as a “cement finisher” in Toronto, Canada on the harbours on Lake Ontario having left Embo in the early 1920s. He returned to Embo in 1932 with my mother Maryann Mackay (nee Cumming), also from Embo and my oldest brother, Donald James Mackay, who had been born in Canada in 1931. The visit was to be a holiday to show off their first born to their families in Embo but while there my father was offered the job with the Minister of Agriculture. Later he worked at many piers at places like Portree, Achiltibuie, Dunbeath, Helmsdale, Golspie and even the breakwater at Embo. He reported that the damage to the Portmahomack pier deck was done by the many horse drawn carts that brought seed potatoes to the pier for export. These potatoes were grown by local farmers and were much sought after in Spain and other Southern European countries for their high yields and hardiness in their warm growing conditions. Talking about this job he told an amusing story that he was under much pressure to make the concrete deck of the pier particularly strong by adding high ratios of cement to the concrete aggregate. His experience was that the over use of cement would actually weaken the concrete so he kept to the correct mix but added a bottle of clear water while claiming that it was a special hardening agent and this satisfied all his doubters. It appears that the pier deck later withstood the rough treatment that it got from the many narrow rimmed iron shod cart wheels.

Tom Fraser’s father was married to my father’s first cousin, the daughter of Barbara Mackay (Roy) of 1 Terrace Street, Embo. Of course the night lights of Portmahomach can be seen from Embo so I have no doubt that Tom Fraser’s father and indeed my own father must have had fond looks towards Embo when working there. Not that they would have seen much lights from Embo as electricity only got there in 1946!
Comment left on 03 December 2010 at 22:35 by Kenneth Mackay
Oops! " Ministry of Agriculture" in line 1 should read "Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries" and "Minister of Agriculture" in 5th line should read "Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries". Comment left on 28 December 2010 at 19:54 by Kenneth Mackay
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