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 History and information / Eachdraidh agus fiosrachadh


North Dell lies between the Dell and Cross rivers and comprises 22 crofts.


As you enter the village from the south, on the right hand side there is a road leading to the Dell Farm. This was originally set up as a distillery in the 19th century but was later extended to become the Dell Farm in the 1870s. The original Dell Farm was in nearer the sea - crofts 1-4 North Dell nowadays, and the Arnaistean land. Oats and barley were ground into meal at the mill and on the left side of the main road, the mill loch and lade can still be seen. Crofters from throughout the area brought their seed here to be processed.


Further up the hill on the left hand side is the Ness Hall, or The Murdo Macaulay Memorial Hall, which was a popular venue for late-night dances from the mid 60s. The Cross (Ness) Free Church Continuing was built in 2003 in Pàirc Fhraoich.


There is a road to the left immediately after the church leading to what was the main part of the village. On the left was the site of Baile Ghriais where people who were cleared from Gress were settled in the early 18th century. About 1874, the remaining tenants were moved from that location under the consolidation moves undertaken when the old Dell Farm became vacant. The Arnaistean lands and Baile Ghriais became part of the new Dell Farm. At about 1850, when the main road was improved, the houses gradually began to be built nearer the main road.  The crofts in North Dell stretch from the main road to the sea. Most of the land is good arable land – North Dell is reputed to be the best village for the growing of potatoes in Lewis – along with Garrabost in Point!


Following the Education Act of 1872, a new school was built in North Dell, though it has always been known as Cross School. It is interesting to note that this facility, which served the villages of South Dell, North Dell, Cross and half of Swainbost had 269 scholars in 1911 and closed finally in 2011 with 13 pupils. The buildings are now owned by Comunn Eachdraidh Nis and are home to an historical archive, museum and a café.  Further facilities are at the planning stage. The Comunn Eachdraidh published a book about the First World War and its impact on the Ness and Westside communities - 'The Going Down of the Sun.'


Comunn Eachdraidh Nis:







Tha ainm a’ bhaile a’ ciallachadh srath no gleann agus tha baile Dhail bho Thuath air taobh tuath Abhainn Dhail.


Tha Eaglais Shaor (Leantainneach) Chrois, Muileann Dhail, Talla Nis agus Comunn Eachdraidh Nis ann an Dail bho Thuath. Fhuair CEN cothrom an seann sgoil a cheannach bho Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar an dèidh dhan sgoil dùnadh ann an 2011. Tha mòran rudan a’ tachairt a-nis sna toglaichean seo – eadar an tasglann loma-làn fiosrachaidh mun sgìre eadar Rubha Robhanais agus Baile an Truiseil, agus Rònaidh agus Sùlasgeir, taigh-tasgaidh, taisbeanaidhean, bùth agus café.  Tha leabhar driùiteach air a bhith air fhoillseachadh leotha mun Chiad Chogadh cuideachd: ‘The Going Down of the Sun – Dol Fodha na Grèine’.


Comunn Eachdraidh Nis:


Dell Mill was built around the beginning of the 19th Century. The present building, standing 300 yards North West of the main road at the Dell Bridge, is the original one apart from some minor improvements made over the years. It is believed that it was originally built as a distillery. In the 1820s there was much illegal distilling being pursued and in order to effect a change Stewart MacKenzie of Seaforth, then owner of Lewis, decided to do something about it and by 1831 a distillery had been set up in North Dell. The road leading to the present Dell farm was known as ‘Rathad an Taigh-stàile' (Distillery Road). Ness whisky is reputed to have won the top prize at a competition in Liverpool against whiskies from Islay and other Highland distilleries. However, it is said that it was whisky which had been distilled illegally in Eoropie that had been entered and the Dell Enterprise was never very successful. It is not known for certain when the function changed, but it is known that in 1849, the buildings were improved and along with the surrounding land became a part of what is now Dell Farm. As well as serving all the villages in Ness, the mill was also used by crofters from the villages on the West coast of Lewis as far south as Barvas.

It is not known who the first miller at Dell was, although local tradition mentions the ‘Muillear Glas' as having been the miller in the early days. After him, Donald Munro was in charge for a while and in 1853 the MacFarqhuar family took over the running of the farm. The mill was closed for the duration of World War 2. It reopened after the war ended and continued to be operated by the MacFarqhuars until 1954 when Donald Morrison took over the farm. He kept the mill going until 1970. In 1981 he leased Dell Mill to Comunn Eachdraidh Nis.


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