Charlie Macleod worked on farms as a young man and returned home (from wartime service) to start up business as a wholesale and retail butcher in Stornoway in 1947 on the site where the shop still stands. In 1958 he purchased Crobeag Farm, including St. Colm’s Isle, from Roderick Macleod (Ruaraidh Mor), a native of Balallan. The stock and equipment included in the sale lists a new boat valued at £50, 78 ewes, 72 sheep and 78 lambs on the Island and 67 ewes, 48 lambs, 2 rams and 4 bullocks in Crobeag. Charlie decided to invest money in regenerating the land and building up the stockholding on both sides of the loch. In the early ‘sixties, a coaster was chartered to bring a cargo of lime up from Glasgow and that policy of expansion and regeneration remains a driving force within the company.
During the Second World War, Mabel MacCallum, a native of Macduff, Banffshire, came to work as a nurse at the Lewis Hospital, Stornoway. She met and married Charles Macleod shortly afterwards and in time they had two sons, Iain and Charles.
A policy of expansion and regeneration remains a driving force within the company
In the late ‘fifties and early ‘sixties, Charlie worked hard at building up the quality of stock on St. Colm’s Isle, engaging local labour and became a well-known and highly respected figure in the community. His affection for St. Colm’s Isle and its early association with the establishment of the Christian Church touched him deeply and he was always conscious of the legacy passed into his keeping, enshrined in the old burial ground and crumbling walls of the ancient monastery. On a high point overlooking ‘Caolas’ that separates St. Colms Isle from Crobeag, an area of consecrated ground was set aside with the consent of the Scottish Office and when Charlie died in 1967, at the early age of fifty-two, his remains were laid to rest there.
His widow, Mabel, and their two sons took over control of the business he had set up. The boys were sent off to agricultural colleges and returned to play leading roles in the development of the firm – Iain specialising in the retail and wholesale butchery side, while Charles Junior concentrated on managing the farm. During the Integrated Development Programme in the 1980’s further investment was made in improvement and expansion creating a first class farming environment living in complete harmony with the surrounding crofting community and delivering a high quality product for sale over the company’s counter.
(Excerpt from article donated with kind permission of the Pairc Historical Society)
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