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Thurso students have plenty to bellow about


By David G Scott


THE Wick Society has taken delivery of 200-year-old industrial artefacts restored by students.

Volunteers from the heritage group received the two restored bellows outside the old herring mart at the harbour and were joined by staff and students from North Highland College UHI in Thurso.

Members of the Wick Society together with some of the college team who restored the bellows.
Members of the Wick Society together with some of the college team who restored the bellows.

Wick Society chairman Ian Leith, said: "The excellent craftsmanship in returning these bellows to their original state is a great credit to the skills of the students."

Part of the Wick Heritage Museum is what was once a blacksmith shop and the society intends to develop it as a blacksmith display.

The bellows are delivered at Wick harbour. Pictures: DGS
The bellows are delivered at Wick harbour. Pictures: DGS

"When clearing it out, two substantial bellows that would have been used in a blacksmith’s were unearthed. Their condition was age worn but through initial contact with Catherine Paterson at Caithness Volunteering, lecturers from the college agreed to take on the restoration of the bellows as part of providing skills experience for their students," said Mr Leith.

Students studying the Access to Construction and Engineering course at the college took on the restoration of the bellows, along with a smiddy forge, as a small component of their course work. The bellows and forge are estimated to be 200 years old and are a "welcome addition to our local industrial past", according to Mr Leith.

NHC teaching staff member Lance Nicholson said: "The students found this project to be useful in learning new skills and techniques. It involved metalwork restoration, welding, woodwork, leatherwork and leather restoration and painting, as well as the skills needed to run and manage a project." He added that the students were indebted to the Wick Society for allowing them to take on the unique challenge.

The 200-year-old bellows were restored as part of a North Highland College UHI project for Wick Society.
The 200-year-old bellows were restored as part of a North Highland College UHI project for Wick Society.

"During their time at NHC, on the Access to Construction and Engineering course, the students learn about several disciplines. These include joinery, plumbing, painting and decorating, brickwork, plastering, welding, fabricating, electronics, electrical installation and enterprise. The bellows project fitted this learning portfolio perfectly."

Mr Leith said that work on the museum’s blacksmith display will aim to commence over the winter months with "funding and expert assistance" being sought.

He added: "The Wick Society is extremely grateful for the work done by the students and staff of the college as these two bellows will have a significant role in the future blacksmith display."



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