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Personal Glimpses of Gravir X: Amenities

Personal Glimpses of Gravir X: Amenities

An account of life in Gravir, by Calum Macinnes, 8 Gravir.


X Amenities

The Well

There was no piped running water at No 8 Gravir in 1926. We carried it home in galvanised zinc buckets from the well. The well was located above the house at the foot of the steep hill to the north. The water, percolating as it went through the rock structure of the hill, was crystal clear with a clean taste quite unlike the taste of piped water supplied to houses at present. The well was emptied and cleaned from time to time. The opening was closed with a wooden frame to prevent animals from drinking from it. Sometimes, during dry summer weather, the well took more time to replenish its water content, but it did so eventually. A young trout was sometimes put into the well to keep it clean but I was never convinced of its efficacy! In one post-war year a sick mind was responsible for contaminating some of the wells with excrement but this was halted when suspicions were focused on one individual.

The present water supply for Gravir comes from a loch, called Loch Mor Duntaha, to the north-east of the village. The supply is of reasonable quality and should remain so if nitrates and other dissolved chemicals can be kept out of it. The supply became available in the 1950s.


Road lights were installed at the Council houses at Carn Aonghais and also at the entrance to the church but not in the rest of the village. Gravir residents are quite happy without them.
The earliest form of lighting was the cruisgean, a shallow iron dish with a spout that was filled with fish oil. A wick made of thread was placed with one end dipped in the oil. The other end was lit and the flame was fed continuously by the oil. (The oil was usually liver oil.) I have not seen a cruisgean in use as a source of light, but there was one in the byre at No 8 Gravir. It was used until the advent of paraffin lamps.

The first paraffin lamps were made of tin. At the base was a reservoir for the paraffin. One end of a wick dipped into it. When lit, the upper part was covered with a glass chimney that steadied the flame. Paraffin lamps became bigger and better as time passed. Later ones had glass or brass bowls for paraffin reservoirs and often had two wicks and a glass chimney surrounded by a coloured glass globe. They were either free-standing or they could be suspended at a higher level. These were then superseded - in the thirties - by the famous Tilley lamp that gave light and heat from a glowing incandescent mantle. Electric light became available in the village in 1952 and for the first time the residents of Gravir could summon light at the flick of a switch.

Hearsay has it that the first electric torch was seen in Gravir just before World War One. Storm lanterns, as they were called, became popular in the thirties. They used paraffin and were covered with hardened glass and had a carrying handle for walking to and from the byre. They were a great improvement on the old cruisgean.


Statistics show that the population of Gravir increased from a total of 197 in 1830 to 468 in 1911, then decreased to 263 in 1951. It was about 350 in the mid-sixties and the present total is about 100. This includes incomers from the south of Scotland and England who were able to buy houses cheaply in the village.

The large increase in pupil enrolment in the school at the beginning of World War One meant that the one classroom - certified as being big enough to hold 88 pupils - was overcrowded and a corrugated iron annex was built in 1916 to accommodate the senior classes.

The two World Wars were the main determinants of population decrease. Many servicemen lost their lives. Others elected to remain in the cities of the south, chiefly Glasgow. Young men went to the cities for trades training and spent the rest of their lives there. The loss of so many vigorous and adventurous young people had a devitalising effect on the community.



Title: Personal Glimpses of Gravir X: Amenities
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Reminiscences
Record Maintained By: CEP
Subject Id: 41068