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North Head Memorial Fenced Off Due To Falling Masonry

7th June 2013

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Photograph of North Head Memorial Fenced Off Due To Falling Masonry

Update From Harry Gray
The North Head Memorial

This tower was officially opened on Saturday, 25th. Sept. 1909

The gentleman, who was the catalyst and driving force behind the project, was Pastor John Horne who had long wished to see a memorial raised to the men of Caithness who had served their country on land and sea.

On the day of the opening Provost Ross presided, the Rev J McAusland Dickie opened with reading and prayer. The town band played The Dead March, which was followed by the Last Post, played by two buglers who had ascended to the battlements of the tower.

Sergeant John Coull, late of the 93rd. Regt who had seen service in the Crimea and in India, and who was the only surviving veteran of that period, was to have unveiled the plaque, but he was unable to attend.
Col. E. G. Buick unveiled the wording which reads, To perpetuate the patriotism of those natives of Caithness who served their country on land and sea.

A casket containing the names of some 400 Veterans was laid under the floor by Sgt. Miller who had served in South Africa in the Boer War.

The intention was to have a room of remembrance on the ground floor, and to erect a middle floor which would have served as a mini museum. The tower was to have a fence around it and a weathervane on top, this never came to fruition.

Today, the battle names can still be read on the various panels, names which still ring down the centuries, Camperdown, Trafalgar, Waterloo, Balaclava, etc., but the memorial is neglected, the entrance was bricked up shortly after W.W.2 and it now looks rather sad, and certainly in need of some tender loving care.

A full report of the days proceedings can be found in the Northern Ensign
28th. Sept 1909 page4 col. 5/6

The names of the veterans on the following pages were compiled from a list gathered and published by John Horne c.1920 and placed in a casket which was built into the floor of the memorial.

The original list was laid out by parish, this reconstructionis in alphabetical order and a number of names added, which for one reason or another were not available to, or eluded Mr. Horne.

As I worked on this project a number of anecdotes and details came to light of some of the veterans, and I have added these in, or have given a reference to where they may be found. I am quite sure that as the years pass more names and stories will appear and will be added to this list.

Lest we forget
Harry Gray. Nov. 2004

We will add the list of names shortly.

Masonary Fall - June 2013
Council officials have taken action to safeguard the pubic following a fall of masonry from the North Head Memorial Tower that overlooks Wick Bay. The ownership of the memorial has to be established although it was built from a public subscription organised by John Horne a pastor who was born at Louisburgh Street, Wick in 1861.

The monument commemorates the men who died in many wars and battles before World War One.

A leaflet is still held in the Wick library showing his appeal for funds in which he was successful enough to build the monument at about 120. Unfortunately the listing of names seems not to have gotten further than the book "A Roll-Call Of Caithness Veterans" held in the Wick library.

Originally the monument showed its stone contruction but after many years of northern weather it was in need of repairs. A local contractor apparently agreed to do the work free of charge and gave it a render which is partly what has now begun to fall off.

Many years ago it was possible to access the inside of the monument but this was blocked up possibly to stop access when no one was around to ensure it was not vandalised.

Wick ward manager David Sutherland notified Wick councillors of the decision on safety grounds to put temporary fence around the monument until discussions could take place to decide on a way forward to make sure this well known landmark is safe again.

The monument is approachable via the path that can be accessed from Linday Drive. The orginal access from Scalesburn was blocked a few years ago on safety grounds although many stil challenge whether that was necessary given the other access points. It is still a popular walk to get views of Wick Bay, especially when sailing events are being held.

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