Monday, 9 March 2009


Right. The horse has bolted. Mackenzie's Harris Tweed Mill is no longer operational. Lighthouse Caledonia has dismantled its plant at Marybank, and moved the machinery to Argyll. The Arnish Fabrication Yard may or may not reopen in the near future - read my post from 26 February on that particular industry. And now the Comhairle is suddenly and inexplicably finding itself confronted by this situation, appealing to the Scottish Government to help them out.

Great foresight. The Harris Tweed mill was in decline for a considerable period of time - I have made a conscious decision not to go into details on the Harris Tweed industry. The Marybank jobs were moved to the constituency of the very minister to whom the Comhairle is now appealing for assistance. I am flummoxed as to the reasoning behind all the promotion for the Clo Mor. We had a fashion show in An Lanntair over the weekend, for instance. What's the point, if we've lost the vast majority of processing capacity to one industrialist's failed foresight - and I'm being generous here.

I am also completely in the dark why the reopening of the Arnish Fabrication Yard has to take so much longer. I'm not privy to confidential negotiations, but one nasty niggle tells me that it may have to do with the 6 days a week working, whereas 7 could be possible. When Altissimo was in charge at the AFY, someone told me that people were working there 7/7, just keeping their heads down on a Sunday.

Having unleashed the torrent on the Sunday sailings issue in my last post, I think I can issue a call for 7 day working in Lewis for the sake of the economic situation. Because if we're not prepared to grasp that nettle, we're handsomely stabbing ourselves in the foot.


  1. That's a beautiful metaphor Mr Lighthouse, one worth treasuring. I agree with you. We have Sunday sailings here (Orkney wears its religions much more lightly than Lewis) but Stromness is still very quiet on the seventh day, sailings or no. Much ado about nothing.

  2. Yup...if it takes 7day week to be viable and survive got to be. So sad to see so much wasted money and other assets moth-balled on the Island by dis-enfranchised entrepeneurs,dubious CNES and puzzling Scottish Executive. RJG

  3. There's barely enough work on the island to justify the six day working week! And there is nothing that does or would stop Arnish working 7 days a week if required.

    As for Harris Tweed, what flummoxes you about it's promotion Arnish? Nice as the An Lanntair show was, the market is never going to be in Stornoway save for the souvenir industry, hence why designers like Deryck Walker have been showing at Tokyo and Paris fashion weeks and leading Scottish interior designers like Glasgow's Graven Images have been showcasing new products in Europe and Japan to push custom fabrics for the trade. It's early days but it will be the forward looking, financed and well orchestrated plans of Harris Tweed Hebrides at the Shawbost mill that will spearhead the Clo Mor success over the coming years. Haggas' marketing plan may well pick up again next year but do not think that MacKenzie's will ever return to the production it once enjoyed while it remains under his ownership.

    And if there was any nettles that needed grasped for the sake of the economy it was the renewables one but that appears to have slipped through our fingers.

  4. Wont those renewables wind turbines be noisy on a Sunday or do they turn them off?

  5. As long as His servants are is resting from their work I'm sure the good Lord isn't too bothered BM. Anyway, He can always turn off the wind Himself if He is.