Stepping into October, we have our latest entry in our deciphering of the Glen Mhor log book. Each page has been unseen for generations and through our research and investigation, these entries are being brought into the digital age with added insight.
So far in our restoration, we've had everything from leaks to faulty valves and silent season requests; all of which are listed on our specific log book page. What each entry holds is unknown until we turn the page and start the work. This entry from October 1937, does hold a surprise and new piece of detail that's been hidden from history, until now.
Let's begin with the transcription itself...
'13 October 1937
I beg to forward a request from Messrs Mackinlays & Birnie for removing the stock casks in the Spirit Stores of Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn Distilleries to the Duty Free Warehouses leaving the Spirit Stores open, in order that new weighing machines may be installed. The changing locks and other locks of the Spirit Vats would be locked on close fastenings
I understand that the dates, which are not specified in the request, would be Sat., 23rd Oct., 1937 and Mon to Wed, 25th to 27th Oct., for the one distillery and Sat., 30th Oct., 1937 and Mon to Wed, 1st to 3rd Nov, 1937 for the other.
I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant, Black, Officer.
The Collector Inverness.'
It is worth placing this entry in our Timeline, not for matters of the distillery, but the sad news that befell the site in October 1937. Robbie Robertson, the distillery manager for over 40 years had passed away on site just the day prior to this request being recorded. It shows that business continued as normally as it could, and this may have been one of his last - or the last - request he made to the Customs and Excise representative.
The entry makes reference to new weighing machines, these were replacing the original versions, which would have been installed in the 1890s, when the distillery was founded. We've found no evidence (so far) that any investment in new weighing machines took place any earlier. This is fantastic detail and a new entry for our Distillery Info page and comprehensive Timeline feature.
Then, you sit down and consider where this fit into what we know, and do we have any other evidence that underlines this finding? The answer is yes, as in the background of this image from A.D. Cameron's book on the Caledonian Canal, taken in 1959.
You'll see the weighing machine in the background by chance, in operation with a younger member of the team. A common site at most distilleries and many of these machines (albeit relics now) are still in situ at some distilleries, marking a bygone age. We also have the confirmation that upgrades were taking place on a uniform basis across both distilleries on Telford Street. This is not a surprise, given the potential cost savings and having the work done side-by-side, it makes perfect sense.
We'll add this to our Glen Albyn research project and hope to make further discoveries across both sites as we explore this Log Book and that of Glen Albyn in due course.
As for the Customs representative, this looks like a short placement, which is unfortunate, as by 1938, there is no mention of a Black working in Inverness for the Excise. His handwriting is certainly easier to follow, so his presence is a loss to our project. There is a D.Black noted to a be working for the Inland Revenue in 1938, living at 7 Ardross Place, which I wouldn't immediately link, as there's a consistency in excisemen being noted as such in this directory. Although his home isn't too far from Glen Mhor. The 1937 Directory does not list a Black either in an excise role specifically, or an employee of the Inland Revenue.
This Log Book comes from the Highland Archives Centre (HCA/D31/4/1/25) and is watermarked for its protection. As with any images on this website, please ask first before using and always give credit. My thanks to the Centre for their assistance.