Open Story

Phone Box and Mobile Shops

By Norah MacDonald - Added 18/04/2014

Audio of Norah MacDonald of Bayhead, Meavag telling about the activity around their home when the only phone in the village was in the telephone box next to their house, and also the mobile vans that serviced the township. Dur: 03.11

When she was in school in the 1950s and early 1960s no-one in the village had a phone in their home and they had to rely on the public call-box next to Norah’s home at Bayhead. People who would come to use the phone usually stopped for a ceilidh before they would phone or while they were waiting for an incoming call. The call box was initially a short distance away but was moved closer and a bell installed in their house. It rang fairly often with relatives or friends of their neighbours asking them to deliver messages, usually to arrange a time for a telephone conversation. Norah's mother who was a kindly lady took it in her stride but would have been thankful that she had a young family to deliver the messages. They didn't mind either as there was often the reward of a sweetie on delivery! It was the only phone in the village and it remained that way till people started having their own phones installed.

Neighbours still called at the MacLeod home as their house was situated close to where the path over to the Ard Miabhaig area joins onto the main road. The mobile vans that brought provisions to the area had their scheduled days for coming to the village but no-one could be sure of an exact time so the people of the Ard and Aonaig would pass the time waiting in Norah's home. Seonaidh Floraidh (John MacLean), the last resident of Aonaig, was a particularly regular visitor turning up without fail each day except Sunday. They all enjoyed a ceilidh while waiting for the van. A fish van came all the way from Balallan (Dòmhnall an Tàilleir) and later from Stornoway (Calum Six) and the Co-op van brought a wide range of provisions from their store in Tarbert.

The residents of Aonaig and Ard had a good distance to walk home carrying their purchases. Norah's parents didn't live to see the last person leaving Ard Mhiabhaig. That was Kirsty Margaret who lived just across the bay from them and she must have missed both them and her old neighbours in the years before she left Miabhag.