Cromarty Archive

Cromarty Mains Farm Cottages

Cromarty Mains Farm Cottages

Date Added: 01 January 2012 Contributor: Elaine Ross Year: 1918 Picture No: 3071

Cromarty Mains Farm Cottages about 1918. My Great Grandfather Kenneth Sutherland (Shepherd) standing outside his house with his Daughters Mary (tallest) and Williamina (middle height), smallest child not known. any information on this family please get in tough as I'm researching my family tree. Kenneth and the family resided here until his death in 1957.

Albums: Buildings, Streets


Anyone got any idea what the large barrels outside each house are for? Comment left on 07 January 2012 at 19:00 by Sandy Thomson
Probably collection of rain water. Comment left on 08 January 2012 at 17:34 by Anon
Well, yes - I did think of that. But these cottages were built in 1879. I would have thought there would have been a piped water supply by that time - even if it was only a shared standpipe. Comment left on 09 January 2012 at 12:15 by Sandy Thomson
Not sure, but that looks like coal at the bottom of the first barrel. Comment left on 17 January 2012 at 09:32 by Sue florence
Well spotted Sue! I think you're right. Weirdest-looking coal bunkers I've ever seen. Comment left on 18 January 2012 at 17:16 by Sandy Thomson
If you look closely you can see they are made of steel rivetted at each end and positioned below the downpipe. Rain water wasn't used as drinking water but for general purpose use. Comment left on 19 January 2012 at 15:58 by Anonymous
"Weirdest-looking coal bunkers I've ever seen."

Quite sensible, really. The problem with rectangular ones is that the coal gets stuck in the corners. The cylindrical ones mean that the tendency for the coal would be to fall down to the bottom for easy shovelling.
Comment left on 19 January 2012 at 16:51 by Colin Dunn
Don't you think you are taking the coal line a bit too far? These are hot riveted barrels similar to a boiler of that era. Many rainwater tanks were made from flagstone so these were pucker indeed. Comment left on 19 January 2012 at 18:15 by Anonymous
This is only a wild guess, but I remember seeing a similar picture in the "Farmers Weekly" which was described as an agricultural seed bin. This apparently was quite common outside farm cottages (circa 1920) before storage methods changed. As Sue now says they are obviously used here as coal bunkers. Comment left on 19 January 2012 at 22:12 by Alex Grant
Coal bunkers would be right as farm cottages in these days did not usually have much in the way of sheds. 10 bags of coal were given to workers as part of thier wages. Comment left on 20 January 2012 at 08:29 by Eric Mciver
If they were rainwater barrels, wouldn't it have made more sense to position them at the rear of the houses? Sorry - I am convinced they are being used here for coal. Comment left on 20 January 2012 at 11:42 by Sandy Thomson
Water or Coal? I come down on the rainwater answer. it was collected as 'soft' water,which was used to fill a clothes washing boiler, fired with wood logs. I used to deliver coal to the Mains, when my Dad had the Coal Business in the 50's. The containers were gone by then, so I offloaded to sheds at the rear of houses.Richard Brooke was farmer insitu. He was preceeded by Jasper Chapman, who moved to Udale. Duncan MacPherson succeeded Richard.

Comment left on 25 January 2012 at 21:05 by Clem Watson
My father Bert Mackenzie, who worked for Duncan MacPherson at the Mains, then at Muirhead Farm, assures me that they would have been used originally to collect rainwater, before the houses had piped water. As Clem has said, the water collected was heated up and used for general purposes like clothes washing, or having a bath! Comment left on 12 February 2012 at 20:49 by Alison Skitt (nee Mackenzie)
I suppose this debate could go on and on, without any conclusion, but as "Anonymous" made reference to earlier on these are well constructed barrels, certainly unlike any water butts of that era circa 1920. There is no evidence of any tap connection/or previous, and as there is very obviously a chute at the bottom, I cannot see how this barrel was manufactured for rainwater collection. Comment left on 12 February 2012 at 22:16 by Alex Grant
Hi Alex. They were not specially made for water collection, but a useful vessel for the purpose, obtained from e.g. disused marine boilers! Our discharge coal tubs, half ton capacity, were after the coal ship era, used by a Cawdor farmer for grain storage. Many well made artifacts can always be used in another role. Some enterprising crofters have kept coal in a bath before now! Water was siphoned from the containers with a gentle 'sook', thence to a pail. Nae sweat. Comment left on 13 February 2012 at 13:54 by Clem Watson
I'm beginning to regret having started this hare running! Let me see if I can stop it in its tracks. The 'Ross-shire Journal' of 5/12/1879 describes the new houses as 'model cottages, with all the latest conveniences.' I reckon this implies a piped water supply, possibly to a communal standpipe. However, this would be hard spring water - useless for washing clothes. It was common, therefore, in the 19th century for even large houses to collect rainwater from the roof (sometimes going into a tank in a basement) for washing purposes. I'm guessing that these tanks were used for this purpose by some inhabitants, but that the house nearest the photographer preferred to use theirs for a coal bunker. Phew! Comment left on 13 February 2012 at 16:01 by Sandy Thomson
The house where the gentleman and his daughters are standing at looks like the one I'm staying in. Comment left on 06 January 2018 at 01:05 by James
Form Goes Here