Cel­e­bra­tions as new quarry pro­ject opens

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

BAL­LACHUL­ISH Com­mu­nity Coun­cil is cel­e­brat­ing the launch of a new lo­cal his­tory pro­ject at the vil­lage’s slate quarry.

This pro­ject has gath­ered to­gether sto­ries of older peo­ple within the com­mu­nity who still re­mem­ber fam­ily mem­bers work­ing in the quarry or living in the ‘bank’ in one of the quar­rier cot­tages pro­vided by the com­pany.

Launched in 2015, this three­year pro­ject has been funded by His­toric En­vi­ron­ment Scot­land, the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund and High­land Coun­cil.

Peo­ple living in Bal­lachul­ish and Lochaber plus vis­i­tors to the area are be­ing in­vited to at­tend the cel­e­bra­tory launch.

A pho­to­call will be held in­side the quarry, or at Bal­lachul­ish Vil­lage Hall if the weather is bad, at 6pm on Fri­day June 9. The event starts in the hall at 5.30pm and should end around 7pm.

This vast and iconic west- coast ge­o­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal site still dom­i­nates the land­scape at Bal­lachul­ish, con­tain­ing fea­tures such as the last-re­main­ing in­clined plane ‘slate arch’ in Scot­land and is still cher­ished to­day. The quarry once echoed with the sound of high ex­plo­sives, plus the ham­mers and chis­els of many skilled men, and oc­ca­sion­ally women, who hand-shaped the mil­lions of roof and floor­ing slates destined for lo­ca­tions all over the UK and beyond.

In at­ten­dance at the open­ing as guests of hon­our will be the pro­ject in­ter­vie­wees whose poignant mem­o­ries and ex­per­tise has been col­lated into a unique app which can be down­loaded from www.bal­lachul­ish.org.uk from Fri­day June 9.

There will also be an update on the film pro­ject, In the Dark

est Hour, which is based on the story of three men, one of them from Bal­lachul­ish, who es­caped Nazi- oc­cu­pied Europe dur­ing Sec­ond World War.

Bal­lachul­ish Com­mu­nity Coun­cil chair­man Kevin Smith is ex­cited about how the pro­ject has un­folded.

He said: ‘This has been a pro­ject with ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits for fu­ture vis­i­tors, but also one with great op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple too. Lo­cal folk have shared sto­ries, trained in oral his­tory record­ing tech­niques and in prac­ti­cal slate-work­ing.

‘The un­ex­pected bonus of the so­cial me­dia side of the pro­ject has meant a con­nec­tion to an ex­cit­ing new film with lo­cal roots and a new in­ter­est in Bal­lachul­ish from all over the world. We have also re- dis­cov­ered the sto­ries of al­most-for­got­ten lo­cal fea­tures, such as the Dis­pute Stone. This was a great chunk of white quartz which was where quar­ri­ers would take their quar­rels to be re­solved.

‘You could not leave the Dis­pute Stone un­til you had sorted out your dif­fer­ences. We hope to see this highly-ben­e­fi­cial lo­cal al­ter­na­tive to me­di­a­tion re­vived and be­come pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors too.’

Thanks to the in­ter­pre­tive work of this pro­ject, these unique mem­o­ries will be passed on to vis­i­tors and down the gen­er­a­tions in Bal­lachul­ish and the sur­round­ing area.

Bal­lachul­ish Com­mu­nity Coun­cil is de­lighted The Her­itage Lot­tery Fund has cho­sen to sup­port the pro­ject which has not only con­served a phys­i­cal re­minder of the skill of the quar­ri­ers in the form of the much-loved slate arch, but has also re- en­gaged peo­ple with their in­dus­trial her­itage and pro­vided an im­por­tant record for the re­gion.

Those hop­ing to at­tend should let the pro­ject or­gan­is­ers know they are plan­ning to come along by phon­ing 07778 922407 or via the pro­ject Face­book page.

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