Rigs and Reels in the Cromarty Firth

by Caroline Vawdrey - 21:44 on 21 November 2014

David Alston, Iain Sarjeant and I all worked together at the East Church, Cromarty and to interpret the Pictish cross slab at Nigg Old Church, and so we were delighted to be commissioned to write 'Port of Cromarty Firth: The first 40 years' to celebrate all that it has achieved since first established in response to the potential of North Sea oil.

The earlier history of the Cromarty Firth is engagingly described by Marinell Ash in her book 'This Noble Harbour'. (The title of the book comes from a quote by Commander Munro - appointed Kings Harbourmaster in Cromarty as the First World War threatened).

Our study of the last 40 years was fascinating to work on - recent history gets so easily forgotten. We interviewed some past and present employees of the port, and I learnt a lot about how a port operates – about delicate manouevring of oil rigs, the amazing rise in cruise liner trade, and the challenge of making sure that investment keeps the Cromarty Firth an attractive port to use. Above all, I was impressed by how much has been acheived by a tiny number of staff – and hadn't previously realised quite how many people work for the companies at the Invergordon Service base – often over 2,000.

The trip out in the pilot boat was a highlight, such fun on a calm sunny day – but probably a lot less fun in the middle of a stormy night. And I hadn't quite realised just how many oil rig forums there are out there . . . but a great source of information they were too!

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