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Caithness Field Club

The Caithness Courier 1866
J Ryrie

"The Caithness Courier" was first issued on the 31st March 1866 and edited by Mr. Watson from Kirkwall. Reports from Orkney and country districts were regularly included as well as reports from Wick. The editor's comments, as distinct from reports were those of one new to the district. Also included in the paper were closely written columns of news items of world, national and political import. Extracts from the first edition of the newspaper have been compiled by Miss J. Ryrie and compoted below. Explanatory remarks are those bracketed.

MARCH 31st, 1866
This week was extremely mild. Midges disported themselves in the gardens in town on Monday evening. Barometer was set "Fair".


Co-operative Society
A meeting of working men was held in the Female Institute Rose Street to establish a co-operative society. Mr. Stephen, watchmaker was asked by Mr. McLeod, Inland Revenue, to take the chair. (At preliminary meetings 140 working men had shown interest and rules had been drawn up which were discussed and adopted. The chairman hoped that by forming a Co-op Store they would stand shoulder to shoulder and not fall out by the way.)
Shares were fixed at ten shillings each payable by instalments and sixty were subscribed at the meeting.

Office bearers elected were: Chairman - Mr. M'Leod, Treasurer - D. M'Kay, blacksmith, Secretary - John Gerrie, hammer dresser.

Committee Members: Messrs. Lightbody, sawyer, A Syme, founder, D. Swanson, hammer dresser, A. Dixon, salmon fisher, W. Brock, painter, P. Rossie, mason, James Cumming, sawyer.

The latter end of last week was the quarterly payment among the workmen employed at the pavement works of Castlehill. Pay Day is always an event in the village. Several of those nuisances the hawkers put in an appearance and succeeded in 'fleecing' not a few. (Hoped for monthly payments. )


The last of the popular lectures at the Wick and Pulteneytown Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association was given by Mr. Anderson, editor, on "The Invisible World" or "Life in Littles". Good attendance on 22nd despite inclement weather. A number of photographs on animalculae and microscopic objects were exhibited through the magic lantern.

Stromness (March 27th)
The "True Love Of Hull" and the ss "Esquimaux" having got their complement of hands left this morning for the whale fishing. They caused some stir in the streets.

Extract from "The Caithness Courier" published on May 5th 1866 concerning the commercial aspect of life along the Thurso river.

In 1828 Thurso was shorn of much of its public importance in consequence of the Sheriff Court being removed to Wick. Thurso is now progressing rapidly both as respects its internal improvements and increase of commerce. It is quite common to see eight or ten schooners or sloops lying in the mouth of the river some discharging others loading. Besides the exports of agricultural produce and the large numbers of cattle and sheep shipped weekly by the steamer there is a large pavement trade. There is also salmon fishing.

On the margin of the river between Messrs. Craig's steam machine works and the castle of Thurso East are the salmon fishing house and salmon curing and salmon and fruit preserving depot of Mr. William Dunbar of Brawl (lessee of the salmon fishing). It is an arrangement of small houses forming three sides of a square with a doorway opening into a little court. One of the sides is used as the dwelling house of the man who is in charge of the salmon fishing. The other two sides are for the purposes of the business. There is also an ice house being a wing attached to the building part of which is underground and all of which is covered with a coating of earth. The doors, for there are two (besides one in a little ante room) were opened that we might get a glimpse inside. The place was full of ice which felt hard as flint. The ice house contains between three hundred and four hundred loads of ice.

The most interesting part of Mr. Dunbar's operations at these premises is the curing and preserving of the salmon which is done by sealing up certain quantities from one pound upwards in air tight canisters. All the canisters are made and everything connected with the business is done on the premises there being a tinsmith's shop for the manufacturing of the canisters, a wright's shop, and the bath house as it is called where the preserved fish are done up. Here also is preserved in the same manner large quantities of fruit.

Published in October 1980 Bulletin