Glenbranter Forest History 1921-951
The document is courtesy of Glenbranter Forest office staff with particular thanks to Ian Adams who has stored these old files for many years.
The Forest History follows the format of the standard forest history of its time but has some interesting historical notes some of which are revealed in the lead up memos prior to its production by District Officer S M Petrie. Unfortunately his first name is not known. The initial comments are written by Lord Robinson, hence the ‘R’ signature and also by the Director Scotland of the time Sir Henry Beresford Peirse. Note that the latter ‘shudders’ at the thought of all the felled oaks and none retained as part of the tree crop.
The forest essentially was composed of two acquisitions initially that of Glenbranter Estate from Sir Harry Lauder in 1921 and Duncan MacNab in 1926 the combined total about 11000 acres. There is a short description of the 6 farms taken over, their previous stock production and at the time of writing the history the detail of the three (Ballimore, Glenshellish and Invernoaden) still in operation as tenancies.
The labour sourced locally and also housed in a bothy is complemented on being of a good type of country man well used to outdoor work on exposed hills and that that they completed large programmes was due to their hard work and virility! There is a brief mention of two labour camps (from 1933) at Glenbranter and Balliemeanach Camps which did affect labour supply. Local labour fell off after the war and the forest was forced to recruit from the cities which did not work out so well. It is also mention here that a Forest Worker Training Scheme Camp was set up at Glenbranter in 1945 and initially 36 trainees engaged mostly from the cities. The number that lasted through to become Forest Workers was very modest. The numbers of forest workers employed are shown in a table which demonstrated the seasonal fluctuations but generally they totalled annually about the mid 20s in 1922 and mid 40s in 1951. They were very short of accommodation for workers and in spite of having 16 Forest Worker Holdings were very glad to be allocated 14 new Swedish Timber Houses in 1951.
Very little ploughing was carried out in the forest and almost all trees were directly planted into the soil before 1927 after which turfing played a major role. This partially explains the large initial annual planting programmes at around 350 acres which dropped to much less than 200 acres after 1932.
There is quite an extensive section on thinning and the problems of getting access into the plantations resulting in the need to brash a high percentage of trees and secondly trying to keep the crowns of the trees in reasonable condition but not opening up the canopy too much and thus allow windblow to commence.
The list of inspection reports at the end of the historical account are an interesting bit of forest history in themselves and one can get a feel of the problems of the time. The Road Engineering branch appears to have been initiated about 1946 and started making roads in the forest. Sir Roy seems to have taken exception to the higher than ‘necessary quality’ of the constructions and wanted more programme from less expenditure. In 1947 the same Chairman wanted a pip prop floating trial down the Shellish Burn with unseasoned, peeled and unpeeled props set off at stages and recovered at various locations down the burn or in Loch Eck!
Staff is listed as follows:
Conservators – A Watt, J E James
Divisional Officers – J M Murray, O J Sangar, A H Gosling, J A R Macdonald, Awatt
State Forest Officers – J R James, H V S Dier
District officers – J Hunter Blair, J Fraser, A H Gosling, H Watson, S M Petrie
Foresters – R W Paterson, R Shaw, R T Anderson, J Calder, J D Macdonald, John Jackson, J D Macdonald, A Maclean
There is a brief note to the effect that the forest is part of the Argyll National Forest Park along with Benmore, Glenfinnart and Ardgartan
Picture added on 06 July 2018 at 20:54