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Introduction / The Island

Leaving the Island

The last inhabitants left Faray (Pharay) in 1947.

Those with families growing up appreciated a better standard of living might be realised elsewhere. There had been a reduction in population for quite some time. The population peaked back in the 1870s at just over eighty. It had dropped to thirty six by 1931.

Sustaining such a small population, where much physical labour was required just to move people, animals and supplies on and off the island, transportation and communication were difficult, and services such as a shop and post office were non-existent, was becoming impossible.

All the old families had left: the Burgars at Cott in 1915, the Groats at Lakequoy in 1927, the Drevers at Windywa in 1928 and the Harcuses of Doggerboat in 1943. William Drummond at the Ness died in 1892 although his stepson, William Wallace, was the last to leave the island.

While there were incomers, some of these may have regarded Faray as a stepping stone to somewhere else and only came as the rents were relatively modest. The incomers tended to stay for a few years and then moved on. The island developed more of a shifting population whereas previously the families went back generations.

The land became more difficult to let and crofts were amalgamated, the land at Quoy going in with Cott around 1931. John Seatter and Ann Drever who were at Quoy moved to Lakequoy when the Groats left and subsequently moved back to Westray around 1936.

James Moar and Helen Leslie were then at Lakequoy for around five years. When they left around 1942, the ground was taken over by the Rendalls who had come to Windywa in late 1927 / early 1928.

Following the Second World War, it proved difficult to get a teacher for the island and the school closed in July 1946. The two remaining pupils from Windywa and Cott were sent to school in Westray with the intention that they would get back to the island at weekends. In view of the difficulty of transportation in winter, this did not necessarily happen and parents were unhappy with the arrangement.

Of the eight houses on Faray, only six were occupied at the end. The population at this time was around twenty. The last inhabitants left over a short period of time, going to different parishes both on the Orkney Mainland and in the North Isles.

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