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Bettyhill Former Fishing Station Including Ice House, Ruined Dwelling House and Boilhouse

A Category B Listed Building in Farr, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.5278 / 58°31'40"N

Longitude: -4.2348 / 4°14'5"W

OS Eastings: 269962

OS Northings: 962129

OS Grid: NC699621

Mapcode National: GBR H6X5.WFY

Mapcode Global: WH383.XXLD

Entry Name: Bettyhill Former Fishing Station Including Ice House, Ruined Dwelling House and Boilhouse

Listing Date: 27 January 2004

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397220

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49634

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Farr

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland

Traditional County: Sutherland

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Bettyhill

Description

Multi-phase early to mid 19th century former fishing station complex comprising: ice house built into steep bank to S, gabled range to N including substantially ruinous 2-storey 3-bay dwelling house with long single storey boilhouse range extending from N gable. Harled and harl-pointed random rubble walls with ladder pinnings and brick repairs. Turf overlay to ice house roof, graded grey slab roof to boilhouse.

ICE HOUSE: asymmetrical W gable with entrance door centred on gablehead and retaining wing-wall at right. Interior; flagstone floors, barrel-vaulted entrance chamber leading to barrel-vaulted main space with 2 ice-loading doors to vault; modern refrigeration plant to rear of main space (2003).

RUINED DWELLING HOUSE: surviving left bay of W (principal) elevation, N gable with rubble apex stack, corresponding S end wall missing gablehead with modern roofless single storey lean-to.

BOILHOUSE: asymmetrical W (principal) elevation with vertically-boarded door at centre flanked by windows (infilled at right). Widened door opening to left with window to outer right. Blank harled red brick N gable; brick infill to former openings in E (rear) elevation. Interior: exposed timber beams; one inscribed "5th September 1840 Duke and Duchess of Sutherland hear visited".

Statement of Interest

Simple and partly ruinous, this grouping of buildings are valuable survivors of a once thriving local industry which operated on the River Naver during the 19th and 20th centuries. Salmon was caught by means of a sweep net and transported the small distance from the shore to the fishing station. Each day's catch was washed, gutted, and cooked in the boilhouse before being salted and packed into wooden barrels, or sealed in large tins. The packed fish was taken along a track to a natural port at the nearby headland and dispatched by sea. A plan of 1810 shows the boilhouse in existence, it is thought that the present boilhouse follows this footprint and contains original fabric (the brick gable ends demonstrate later 19th re-build). In 1846 it is recorded that the ice house was built marking an increase in productivity, it is possible that the 2-storey dwelling house was constructed in response to this. The ice house enabled salmon to be stored before transportation and probably allowed

fresh salmon to be packed on ice and dispatched on fast ships to London and other ports. Between the icehouse and the village is a shallow depression in the ground (formerly a pond) which was used to stock the icehouse with fresh ice in cold weather, otherwise the ice would have been collected and transported from further inland. The Ordnance Survey maps show that there was an outshot to the rear of the boilhouse, this is no longer, however former access to it is indicated by bricked up openings in the rear wall. Due to conservation measures the fishery completely ceased operation in 1992. The ice house and boilhouse are at present (2003) without their doors and windows, it is noted that the roof of the boilhouse is beginning to fail, with slabs slipping. The nearby concrete pier does not appear on the 1st or 2nd edition Ordnance survey maps, most likely being built as a more direct means of dispatching the fish, replacing the short journey up to the headland. It is interesting to note that one can discern a considerable amount of blasting to have taken place at the rocky foreshore, some time in the 19th century. This enabled the fish to be landed and carried up to the station with greater ease.

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