Celebrations as new quarry project opens
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.