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Museum nan Eilean

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Lews Castle, 2011
Lews Castle
© Colin Smith

Museum nan Eilean and Archive opened on Thursday 14 July 2016 at Lews Castle, a £19 million partnership project led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.[1]

Lews Castle overlooks Stornoway Harbour, and access by car is via Willowglen Road, postcode is HS2 0XS, off the A857, and for pedestrians via footpaths accessible from the bridge at Bayhead, or further north at the former porter’s lodge.[2]

First motor car on Berneray

In 1933, a Morgan 3-wheeler (standard Runabout model)was the first private motor car on the island of Berneray, ferried their on the deck of a trawler.

The owner was merchant, ferryman, and JP Finlay Paterson, who purchased the car in January 1933. Mr Paterson is also said to have brought the first motorised boat to the island.

Records show the car was first registered in Glasgow in 1923, then went to Inverness two years later.

It was restored in the late 1980s, then donated to the National Museums Scotland (NMS) and is now one of the key exhibits in the museum.

The first stamp in the log book shows the original owner to be James Donald Scoular, Tigh-na-Hiaradh, Lochmaddy, on North Uist.

In 1931, it was sold to James Donald Scoular of Stornoway who then sold the car onto Mr Paterson.

The car was kept in a wooden shed in Berneray by Mr Paterson’s daughter Bessie following the death of her father, who was also a JP and a ferryman who brought the first motorised boat to his island.

In 1988, a restoration of the Morgan got underway after an Edinburgh police man, Lawrie Sutherland, heard about the car from a fellow officer.

He travelled north, depite (sic) a warning from Bessie it would be a waste of time heading north as the shed had blown away.

Mr Sutherland said in an earlier interview: “When the previous owner died, the open two-seater was pushed into a wooden garage virtually on the edge of the Atlantic and left.

“The ravages of time took their toll, the garage collapsed and the car lay buried and open to all the elements for years.”

It took Mr Sutherland and a colleague about two hours to dig the car free.

Mr Sutherland said in an interview in 1990: “She certainly wasn’t kidding about the state of the car. But after giving it a thorough going over I told her that if I could restore the car to its original condition, I would bring it back one day for her to see. She said that if I did just that I could keep it. It would be mine.”

Documents which were handed to Mr Sutherland show the Morgan cost £128 new with acetylene lights (£139 if fitted with electric lights), and the road fund licence was £4.

Insurance papers from 1932 show the car was insured for travel only on the Outer Hebrides at £3-7-6.

- When a Hebridean island got its first motor car - The Scotsman[3]


1 Lews Castle and museum opens to the public – Hebrides News Today Retrieved 20 March 2017.

2 Lews Castle Retrieved 20 March 2017.

3 When a Hebridean island got its first motor car - The Scotsman Retrieved 20 March 2017.

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Aerial views



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