Finsbay Lodge - a Memory of Finsbay.

I have enjoyed visiting Harris ever since 1970. I was fascinated to learn that there had been a large and charismatic fishing lodge/hotel at Finsbay; even more odd was the fact that its origin and history were hardly known. I delved into its history, and it was remarkable to find that this had been one of the largest fishing organisations ever in the UK, founded by a group of prosperous, but highly philanthropic and wide-thinking, Glasgow businessmen who formed a company, The Hebridean Sporting Association Ltd, in 1903. Local people in the South Harris community supported the venture which was greatly beneficial to everybody concerned. It provided a lot of employment and probably marked the start of a new era of welcoming visitors to the Isle of Harris.  

Unfortunately, the financial aspects were over-ambitious. When the First World War was declared, visitors to Harris were virtually embargoed, yet the Hebridean Sporting Association's rents and leases still had to be paid. Financial failure became inevitable, and the fine Finsbay Lodge fell apart and was dismantled in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The foundations of the old building are still visible. First-hand memories of the Lodge are few, but those that remain give a warm and positive account of its role in the community.

The story is quite a dramatic one for anyone interested in Hebridean history or the history of Scottish salmon and sea-trout fishing. I have now written the whole story in a book "The History of Finsbay Lodge, Harris: Life and Fishing on a Hebridean Isle" (ISBN 978-0-9559284-0-6) which is available from myself or through bookshops (£15.99). The book includes the story of Lord Leverhulme's involvement in Harris, including his purchase of Finsbay Lodge, information about steamer services to Harris, and excerpts from letters from visitors to Finsbay just as the First World War was being declared. It is illustrated by contemporary and modern photographs of Finsbay and South Harris, including pictures of key people involved in this great venture.

I have enjoyed help from many people: if anyone can add to the story of Finsbay Lodge and its community, I'll be delighted to hear from them.

A memory shared by Michael L.G. Gardner on Apr 22nd, 2009.
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