Leverburgh is a small port on the south facing coast of the island of Harris. It was developed by the wealthy industrialist Lord Leverhulme (William Hesketh Lever one of the brothers from Bolton in Lancashire that founded the conglomerate, Unilever) after he bought the South Harris Estate from the Earl of Dunmore in 1919. For a few years His Lordship brought significant improvements to the lives of the islanders (on a wider basis, as MP for the Wirral his private members bill was responsible for the establishment of the state provided old age old age pension). Leverhulme had plans for a locked harbour at Leverburgh (previously a small settlement named Obbe) that would have had capacity for 200 fishing boats and would have brought great benefit to the people of Harris but, sadly it never came about. On his return from a trip to Africa he developed pneumonia and on Thursday 7th May 1925, William Hesketh, the Right Honourable Lord, Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles died in Hampstead. The Board of Lever Brothers were not interested in his Harris project and quickly wound it up. Here, beside the ferry terminal, we see two derelict remains of traditional Hebridean homes of that period, built solidly of roughly cut rock, hewn from the Harris mountains - until relatively recent times transportation by road was difficult so the tendency would be to source materials as locally as possible. Derelict homes such as these are still fairly commonly encountered. There were two main reasons for homes becoming unoccupied and falling ito dereliction. During periods making a traditional living from crofting or fishing became insurmountably difficult even for the very resourceful native Hebrideans (sometimes this was due to unrealistic demands of absentee landlords) and families were forced to leave their native communities to seek a 'better life' (rarely better but usually more financially rewarding) either in Central Scotland or, more commonly, in the 'New World' e,g, Canada. In such circumstances most would never return and the family homes would be left to the ferocious forces of nature. In more recent times (the second half of the 20th Century) many Hebridean families built larger and more comfortable modern homes usually relatively closeby and in some instances the old home may be retained as a store or a workplace. The robustness of the stonework of the old buildings is plain to see;
even the relatively slender window and door lintels are still surviving. Windows were almost exclusively single avoiding the weakness of dividing mullions. The biggest challenge for many of the occupants of this type of home was keeping an intact roof over head as the winter gales do their best to remove it, either bit by bit or all in one go! It is no coincidence that the most common feature of derelict homes is the lack of a roof. Again, until relatively recent times demolition of these sturdy little buildings was very hard work for little or no benefit, so it just wasn't done. I find it difficult to look on them as 'eyesores' as many derelict city buildings soon become. Each of these llittle building has probably got a significant tale to tell - if only they could speak!