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WORK: Outer Hebrides (part 2)

Joan

Joan owns Silhouette Hair Salon in Leverburgh, Isle of Harris. Joan’s been shampooing, cutting, colouring and styling since Silhouette first opened for business in 1998. I’m a regular. Based on a quick ‘back of a fag packet’ calculation, I reckon I must be getting close to Haircut 100

Leverburgh was a hive of building activity in 1998. While Silhouette was being built, two other new businesses were also under construction: Am Bothan Bunkhouse and The Anchorage Restaurant. That’s a big deal for a small village with a population of just 200. And all three members of Leverburgh’s class of ’98 are still going strong!

Neillie, with Shonnie the pug at Leverburgh Pier

5. Neillie and Shonnie the pug at Leverburgh Pier

Neillie and Shonnie the pug taking care of repairs and maintenance in their workshop on Leverburgh Pier. Neillie’s been a fisherman since 1984, specialising in shellfish. Shonnie doesn’t go to sea but he’s always present during shore based activities. If you look closely, you’ll see why I almost titled this picture ‘ the dog the wolf and the owl’.

Kenny

6. Kenny, proprietor of the legendary Strond Stores, Isle of Harris

“Everything from Nylons to Barbed Wire”.
Kenny’s shop had one of the best advertising slogans ever!

Although I never got to visit Strond Stores (it closed in 2000 – a couple of years before I moved to Harris), I really wanted to include Kenny in this series because both he and his shop have earned legendary status among the islands’ residents.

In the shop’s heyday, Kenny stocked just about everything. Aside from the items and services listed in the vintage newspaper advert, he also stocked wallpaper, Valspar paint, a vast range of confectionery, including lots of goodies you couldn’t find in any of the other shops dotted around the island in the latter half of the 20th century, plus a selection of shoes in various sizes (any colour you like, as long as they were black).

Shops like Kenny’s were a lifeline for the people of South Harris. The 60 mile journey to Stornoway takes around 90 minutes by car today. Back in the day it was a major undertaking, much of it being unpaved single track.

I was delighted when Kenny agreed to have his photo taken. He doesn’t get out and about so much today, but rather than take the easy option of allowing him to sit in his comfortable armchair inside the house, it didn’t take too much persuasion for him to give me a guided tour of one of his six sheds. Kenny used to keep six ‘beasts’ in this byre – most of them eventually sold as “Harris Butcher Meat” over the counter in Strond Stores.

Following our short photo session, he invited me back into the house for a ‘wee dram’. I was handed a tumbler full of whisky.
“You’ve added water to this, Kenny?”, I enquired, expecting confirmation.
“No!”, he replied, dismissively.
There was easily the equivalent of a quarter bottle in my glass. No further work was done that afternoon.

SlĂ inte, Kenny!

Previously: Part 1 of WORK: Outer Hebrides

2 thoughts on “WORK: Outer Hebrides (part 2)”

  1. Great ‘work’ John. Good to see that you’re still Highlighting the positives by taking the negatives so to speak.

  2. I love these photographs. They make me want to return again — already booked to stay on North Uist next summer — can’t wait!!

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