The coves and blones of Stornoway Historical Society have joined the technological age, thanks to a £6,000 grant from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

The grant – from the profits from the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm – mean the society were able to buy a suite of new computers, monitors and printers for their premises in Stornoway Town Hall.

It will all make the job of archiving and putting on exhibitions much easier, not to mention the task of producing the society’s journal, SY Gone By.

Murdo Maciver from Tech Mobile helped set the society up with everything they needed, including three PCs with dual monitors – two in the office and one in the public space to enable visitors to look up archived documents and photos – plus a top-of-the-range Mac for design work.

There were also two printers – including one for printing photographs – and a large A3 scanner.

Murdo ensured all this equipment was networked together, that all committee members had easy access, and that the files were linked to cloud storage.

Creating this network for the society also meant he had to get into the loft of Stornoway Town Hall – the society’s offices are on the ground floor – to put in new cabling.

Historical Society chair Malcolm Macdonald said: “When you have an old building like the Town Hall, it’s not as easy to set up as in a bungalow…”

Installation of all the new equipment was completed last week, at the same time as the society unveiled their summer exhibition in the public space.

The exhibition, ‘Blazing the Trail for Stornoway Women’, commemorates Stornoway blones (women) who made their mark in the 20th Century.

It was timed to celebrate the centenary of women gaining the vote in 1918 and is a pointed reminder of the role women played in island life.

Opening times are 11am to 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The exhibition will be open until September, when the society will begin putting together the next one, about the loss of the Iolaire.

The Historical Society invested £4,000 themselves in the equipment but the £6,000 from Point and Sandwick Trust meant they could buy everything they needed in one go.

Murdo from Tech Mobile said there was “a huge difference” between what they have now and their previous set-up.

“The Mac is £4,500 on its own and that will help them produce the magazine. I think they will be able to operate now without needing any more equipment, although they might need one more computer for public access. Now everything is shared and accessible from any of the machines. It’s so much better than what they had.”

Malcolm said: “Being able to have so many computers means we can network and link in. That makes a substantial difference to our operational capacity.

“We’ve been operating from home up till now, effectively. Although we had the office, all we had was one computer and we needed that for our archivist to keep the records.

“Without the money from Point and Sandwick Trust, we wouldn’t have half the equipment and we certainly wouldn’t have had the Apple Mac. It would have been piecemeal.”

Donald John MacSween, Point and Sandwick Trust general manager, said: “Point and Sandwick Trust are pleased to be in a position where years of hard work and endeavour are now paying off so handsomely for local groups, who are using our funding to good effect.

“None more so than Stornoway Historical Society, who have worked over the years to build an impressive resource for everyone interested in our history.”

Stornoway Historical Society was set up in 1992 and Sandy Matheson is the honorary president. The society has a website – stornowayhistoricalsociety.org.uk– and a Facebook page, which is @stornowayhistorical.

Pictures of Stornoway Historical Society, taken by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography.

Top, Malcolm Macdonald,  who chairs the Stornoway Historical Society and Murdo Maciver of Tech Mobile, check out the new computer equipment;

Above, the current exhibition, ‘Blazing the Trail for Stornoway Women’. 

Below, some earlier examples of the society's magazine