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Introduction / The Island / Leaving the Island / Last Inhabitants

Evacuation of North Faray: Only One Family Left on Island

The Orcadian of 11th April 1947 carried an article on the evacuation of the island.

With the departure, last week, of another family, the little island of Faray is now occupied by one household. The “evacuation” of the island, a matter of extreme regret in the North Isles area, will soon be completed. The inhabitants have sought work elsewhere because of increasing difficulty in maintaining contact with “the outer world”. Some time ago their school was closed because of the shortage of teachers in the county generally. The adults have encountered growing difficulty in fetching in food and other supplies and in exporting agricultural produce.

Extensive advertising of the island holdings has failed to attract new inhabitants. Commenting on the situation, a North Isles correspondent refers to the troubles arising out of bad weather conditions and indicates the drop in manpower has made the hauling up of boats a serious handicap. Faray lies between Eday and Westray and is frequently referred to as North Faray, to distinguish it from the Scapa Flow island of Fara or South Fara. Our North Isles correspondent states:

This small island of Faray – we spell the name as it is officially spelt in the schools nowadays – which contained in quite recent times eight prosperous hard working families, and a school teacher, bids fair, unless there is a fresh batch of incoming tenants, to be become derelict – an uninhabited holm, a little better than a skerry. What is the reason? The chief difficulty is the boating. While the island in not necessarily inaccessible in moderate weather, much arduous work and not a little danger is necessary in contacting ships and the neighbouring islands, principally Eday for shopping, shipment of cattle and the intact of supplies, etc.

Another difficulty is the present scarcity of teachers, a difficulty which Orkney Education Committee seem unable to overcome in other instances than Faray.

To boat the children daily to another island in impractical.

Thirty six years ago, the population numbered forty eight, with a school roll of ten or a dozen pupils. In earlier times, no doubt, the population, as in many larger parishes, was more numerous, as there is evidence of several smaller disused houses having existed.

Commencing from the south end of the island, the holdings and other properties are: Ness, Holland (the largest), Windywall, Lakequoy, Hammer, the School, Doggerboat, Cot and Quoy.

Recently there was a tendency for two holdings to be worked as one.

As Orkney soil goes, the ground is fertile, rather over the average, in fact. The island is centrally situated near lobster fishing grounds and in a good year these have added considerably to the revenue of the tenants who followed the lobster fishing in their spare time.

Last Wednesday, April 9, the second last tenant departed. This leaves only one household, the longest residenter among them. They are the Wallace family at Ness who have lived in Faray for over sixty years. They too will soon take their departure and then a complete evacuation will have occurred.

Latterly there was a tendency for the tenants not to remain overlong in their holdings.

A few years prior to the 1939 war, a boat slip, principally through the earnest work of ex-County Councillor Jas. Tulloch, Blackbanks, Eday was procured and this was a great benefit to the tenantry and helped them a lot with their inter island communications.

It is with deep regret, that many people in the neighbouring islands are witnessing this “latest evacuation”. It is a development that is becoming all too common in many islands and usually following the practice of adding house to house and acre to acre, with a consequent decrease in population and the leaving of a heavier burden of parish amenities on those who remain. The inevitable result is to make everyday life more and more difficult.

The Orcadian, Thursday 10th April 1947

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