The Story of Waternish Hall


As some local residents will know, 2021 saw the 70th Anniversary of the opening of Waternish Community Hall. The newsletter included some items at that time to commemorate this event, but since then more information has been received concerning the history of the Hall. Thanks are therefore due to local historian DJ Campbell for providing much of the content shown here, as well as to numerous other people on Waternish who kindly donated their local knowledge and photographs.

This page is therefore dedicated to those who came before us to enable the construction of the Hall, and to those who have helped maintain it so that we can all enjoy it today.


The idea of a community hall for the local community in Waternish was first discussed around 1948. In that year, a Village Hall Committee was established, and the following is the transcription of a hand-written document kindly supplied by Iain MacLean, son of the secretary of the 1948 Waternish Village Hall Committee:


At a public meeting held in Lochbay School at 7pm this evening, the question of a site for a temporary hall, allocated by Social Committee of Social Services, to Waternish community was discussed. Objections were raised to proposed site in Stein, and it was formally decided to authorise the Hall Committee to approach the Landlord with a view to obtain a more central site.

                  Hall Committee
Chairman: Councillor, Donald Beaton, Stein.
Secretary: Mr D. A. MacLean, Schoolhouse.
Members: Miss Norah MacLeod, The Lodge; Messrs Alex MacLeod, 2 Ardmore; Norman Bain, Hallin; Alick MacLeod, 3 Ardmore; William Finlayson, Halistra.

1st meeting of the Committee called for next Monday 15th

Mon 15 Nov 1948.
Meeting was held in Lochbay School at 7pm. Councillor Donald Beaton was in the chair. The question of a suitable site for the temp hall was discussed and the committee was unanimous on the following points.
(a) That the landlord should be approached to arrange a meeting with members of the Waternish Hall Committee.
(b) That a site be asked for between Fasach Bridge and the March Fence at the War Memorial.
(c) That the site be near a good water supply.
(d) That there should be a suitable parking place, and a good place for installing a septic tank.
(e) That a playing field might be secured at a later date.

The secretary wrote to Mr MacDonald (Landlord) the same night and received his reply on Wed 17th agreeing to meet a deputation on Sat 20th, and making certain reservations about a site.

Nov. District Road surveyor called and was directed to proposed site at War Memorial.

Nov 20th. Chairman, Secretary and Messrs Alex MacLeod and Alick MacLeod met D.R. MacDonald at the war Memorial and were shown the site now granted for the erection of a hall beside the March Fence North of The War Memorial, and a suitable source for a water supply, 150 yards from the site was also examined and approved.

Sketch plans of the site and surroundings are being prepared by the Secretary for transmission to Town & Country Planning Committee, Inverness, and Council of Social Service, Edinburgh.

By the end of February 1949, twenty five letters had been sent by the Hall Committee, the vast majority of them to the Landlord, D.R. MacDonald who was less than happy with the uses the hall could be used for. There were complaints that D.R was taking 3 months to reply to their letters.

In December 1949 Waternish Village Hall Scheme was postponed.
The committee must have been re-formed soon after with Donald Beaton, Stein; still in the chair, Murdo MacLeod, Stein Inn, Secretary; and Willie Angus MacAskill, Turn House, Treasurer.

Donald MacLean left Stein for Struan in summer 1950, but prior to that he was one of the driving forces behind the hall committee.
All the above information is courtesy of Iain MacLean, who has his father’s notes from that time. Many thanks to Iain for sharing those memories with us, showing all the hard work that went into securing a hall for Waternish.


Between the planning stages in 1948 and the opening of the Hall in 1951, we sadly have very little information. Suffice it to say that things went ahead with the building, and the main date during Skye Week 1951, as far as Waternish was concerned, was Thursday 7th June, when the local Village Hall was formally opened.
Dame Flora Macleod of Macleod, and Allan Beaton,
who piped Dame Flora into the new hall.

Dame Flora Macleod of MacLeod was piped into the new hall by Allan M Beaton, home on leave from the R.A.F. Mrs MacLeod of MacLeod was introduced to the audience by Mr Donald Beaton of Stein, Chairman of the Hall Committee. Dame Flora congratulated Waternish on procuring one of these fine halls so much sought after by hundreds of Scottish communities. She also referred to the fact that she had commenced her career as a local government representative as District Councillor for Waternish.
Donald Beaton, original Chairman of the Hall Committee, outside his home in Stein.

Dr J. A. MacLean, Director of Education for Inverness-shire, made a special plea for the new venture in educational activities in these new surroundings. He specially referred to Gaelic Drama.

Nine year old Phemie (Fay) MacLeod, daughter of Mr and Mrs MacLeod of the Stein Inn, presented Mrs MacLeod of MacLeod with a beautiful bouquet of anemones.
Morag and Murdo MacLeod of the Stein Inn, with their daughters Alda and Fay.
Murdo became Hall secretary when Donald MacLean left Waternish for Struan.
Morag was in charge of catering on the opening night.
Fay presented Dame Flora with a bouquet at the hall opening.

Mr Hugh MacRae manager of Beaton's Bus Company, Portree, acted as chairman and introduced many witty and interesting anecdotes between programme items. A fine programme in Gaelic and English was sustained by the Skye Week Concert Party, comprising the following guest artistes:- Mrs Douglas (Ina MacLennan) and Mrs MacLeod (Donalda Robertson), both of whom gave fine renderings of Gaelic songs; Mary B MacLean contributed various recitations, including several by her brother, "Kaid" MacLean; Robert King, whose sympathetic singing of Scots and Gaelic songs was much appreciated; Duncan Morrison whose expert playing at the piano was also well received, and Alasdair Matheson, who sang several songs composed by his father, the present Gaelic Bard of An Comunn. Donald MacAskill, Portree, gave a very good display of Highland Dancing.
Donald A MacLean (left), original secretary of the Hall Committee, who proposed
a vote of thanks to the Chairman; and Willie Angus MacAskill (right), who was Hall Treasurer,
as well as acting as MC at the Hall Opening.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman was proposed by Mr D. A. Maclean, Struan Schoolhouse, ex-secretary of the Hall Committee.

The dance which followed was well-attended, music being provided by Messrs MacLeod and Montgomery, Edinbane. Mrs Charles MacLeod, Bayview, and Mrs J Finlayson, Hallistra, helped Mrs Murdo MacLeod Stein to supply a fine tea during the dance.

Special mention is due to the following three gentlemen who organised the whole show:- Mr Murdo MacLeod, secretary, Mr Donald Beaton, Chairman, and Mr W. A. MacAskill, Treasurer, who also acted M.C. at the dance.
Alasdair Matheson (left), well-known Gaelic singer,
and John ‘Kaid’ MacLean (right), singer of Scots and Gaelic songs.

Many thanks to D.J. Campbell for providing the text and photos for this article.
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