Parish of Lochs (1831-1845) - Industry
Agriculture.-Number of acres, standard imperial measure, in the parish, which
are either cultivated or occasionally in tillage, 2000 to 3000
Number of acres which never have been cultivated, and which remain constantly waste, or in pasture, probably fiom 150,000 to 100,000
[The writer regrets he has not the means of estimating these quantities more precisely.]
Only a few acres are under natural wood.
Manufactures.- The only article manufactured in the parish of Lochs for exportation, is kelp,-of which upwards of 100 tons are exported annually. There are many articles manufactured here,
for home consumption; such as blankets for beds, coarse cloth, various in quality and colour, but chiefly striped, stockings, &c. The poor people generally rear the wool from which they manufacture their scanty store of these necessaries; but there are some of them (the poorest,) who have no sheep, and are therefore compelled to buy wool from their more highly favoured neighbours, which, however, they are in many instances unable to do to the extent their necessities would require.
Mechanics.-The only resident tradesmen in Loch: are, boatbuilders, weavers, and tailors. Almost all the labouring part of the population, male and female, are acquainted with the manufacturing of kelp. All the males fit to endure the fatigue are occasionally accustomed to fishing; and all the females are accustomed to spin yam, principally with the spindle and distaff, and also to make stockings.
There are no lands in the parish of Lochs that can properly be called arable. The plough is not used at all. The people rear their crops on small detached spots, and cultivate the ground with spades. That notorious implement of Scottish Highland husbandry, the crooked spade, is much used in this parish. There is not a sufficiency of food produced in the parish, to support its inhabitants. The wants of the inhabitants in this respect can always be relieved at Stornoway, where stores of every necessary are always kept by the respectable part of the mercantile community. Indeed the soil, but more especially the climate, is not favourable for agriculture; yet, by giving due encouragement to industrious capitalists, in granting them long leases, and the land at a moderate valuation, the country would be greatly improved. The parish would yield a sufficiency of provision for its inhabitants; the money sent out of the island for provisions would be kept at home; and, instead of the people devoting their time indiscriminately to the mixed avocations of husbandry, fishing, kelp-making, grazing, &c. each should have his distinct and separate avocation,-which, I am persuaded, would greatly conduce to the general welfare of the community. The poor people are glad, at present, to have a spot of ground, at whatever price, to ensure some food for the ensuing year; but while their attention is divided, as we already noticed, they can bestow on no part of their avocation that attention which, under other circumstances, would ensure success.
Posted by ADB