February 16th 1917 Glen Mhor Donald MacDonald Carting Contractor


The latest instalment of the Glen Mhor document collection takes us back to 1917.

Regular readers may recognise this carting company from a previous invoice. Mackinlay & Birnie's use of local businesses over a prolonged period of time is commendable for its locality to the distillery.

In 1917, the pending arrival of the US Navy at both distilleries prompted them to shut down to assist the in production of mines, and is an area I intend to explore further. Glen Mhor would become more of a storage facility and, as I understand it, would play host to maturing casks from both distilleries. As we progress further into 1917, it is anticipated that there will be an increased movement of casks away from Inverness. However, this invoice shows us incoming materials over a period of several days at Glen Mhor. 

It is important to note that the arrival of the US Navy also led to the expansion of the current rail network. A new branch was created at the Muirtown Basin to aid in the transportation of mines and materials for construction purposes. The track lines used to construct this branch were taken from the now-closed Buckie and Portessie branch line. 

If you are interested in this period and what was the first US military base on UK soil, then I'd recommend The Northern Barrage by the Inverness Local History Forum. And I love their motto 'information not shared is lost', which is exactly what we're doing here. 

As the line was not in use at the time of the invoice, there is still a reliance on traditional methods, such as transporting haulage over longer distances. As previously demonstrated, the Caledonian Canal was not utilised extensively. It is also predicted that when both distilleries resume production, haulage would be moved from the Muirtown Basin to Glen Mhor, hopefully by Donald MacDonald. 

The invoice indicates that barley is the primary commodity, with a minimum of 7 tons being transported. Additionally, 10 tons of coal, presumably from Bowhill, Fife, are also delivered, as it has been established this major mine was being used by Glen Mhor in previous and later years.

The invoice shows that most goods are being transported through 'Thornbush', a name that is likely familiar to Inverness residents. Thornbush Brewery, located on Thornbush Road on the opposite side of the peninsula from Glen Mhor, is the area in question. Inverness used multiple transportation routes, including the Muirtown Basin, the Caledonian Canal, and others. 

Thornbush Quay was the largest of these docks and could accommodate larger vessels. It was utilised by numerous businesses for importing and exporting goods. 

It is unclear whether Mackinlay & Birnie used this dock to export their products, but it is evident from the invoice that many of their raw materials were received here. Pure speculation on my part, but we do know that Glen Mhor used barley from Scotland and further afield. In 1916-1917, around 48% of its barley needs from foreign sources, before the Great War put an end to distilling, briefly. This equated to 2,595 (as noted by the PhD of R.B. Weir in 1971, with the source being William Birnie himself) quarters, which is an old style measurement. Roughly, this would be around 32.43 tons of barley needing to reach Glen Mhor from non-UK producers, with shipping being the likely carrier. Making Thornbush Quay ideally placed to service such needs.  

The back of the document provides no additional information beyond the continuation of the Glen Mhor filing system. I've been unable to unearth any information about this carting contractor, so hopefully this is something we can revisit at a future date.