STORNOWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1992-2017

On Saturday 13 May 2017, members and former members of the Stornoway Historical Society sat down in the Croft Lounge of the Caladh Inn to commemorate 25 years since the Society was founded.

The event had been postponed from an earlier date following the passing of the much-respected former chairman Norrie Macgregor.

It was on Monday 23 December 1991, that a steering group met to discuss the formation of a Society.

Letters of invitation had been sent to 15 people and an agenda had been prepared by Sandy Matheson, now the current Honorary President of the Society.  Along with Mr Matheson, the following attended: Frank Thompson, Colin Scott Mackenzie, Norman D. Macleod, Calum Maciver, Murdoch Macleod, Mary M. Mackenzie, Sheila Macleod, Ann Sutherland, John MacQueen,  and Annie Macsween from Ness was present to give advice. Norman Maclean, Zena Nicoll and Annice Macleod were unable to attend.

Interim office bearers were elected and the minute of the first official meeting shows that it was held on Wednesday, 29 April 1992 in Amity House.

The office bearers were confirmed as: Chairman: Sandy Matheson, Vice-Chairman: Murdoch Macleod, Secretary: Frank Thompson, Treasurer: Calum Maciver.

There were about 40 members who had made application to join and the Society's funds stood at £104. Naturally the first meeting spent considerable time on the Constitution.  Mr DL Smith had been added to those serving on the committee and is now the last of the original members still serving.

Over the years the Society has held exhibitions, published books and a twice-yearly magazine, held lectures, provided speakers  and a series of programmes on Isles FM Radio, the very popular "Local History File", hosted by Norrie Macgregor for 14 years.

Norrie succeeded Sandy Matheson as chairman and he was followed on by Murdoch Macleod, Jessie Murray and the current chairman, Malcolm Macdonald. 

The Society has had four treasurers: Calum Maciver, K.Michael Maclennan, Cathie Mackay and John Angus Smith. The post of secretary has been held by Frank Thompson, Malcolm Macdonald and Willie Foulger.

The objective of the Society is to advance the education of the public about the history, heritage and culture of Stornoway and the Isle of Lewis. 

Until April 2009 the Society had no home then space vacated by An Lanntair was allocated on the upper floor of the Town Hall on South Beach. 

However, the imminent plans were for the refurbishment of the Town Hall and the Society artefacts and equipment were decanted into storage.

Upon return the Society heard that the Harris Tweed Authority wished to exchange premises.  With all the upheaval involved it has taken until now before the Society can consider opening its door to the general membership and public this summer. 

The cataloguing of donated, purchased or researched items requires absolute accuracy.  Ken Galloway has worked assiduously on archiving , and given that the Society had had several large collections donated in the last year or so, it is gratifying that we can have a limited opening to start with.