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Leverburgh

(An t-Ob, Obbe)
Western Isles

A crofting township of South Harris, Leverburgh was formerly known as Obbe and still referred to in Gaelic as An t-Ob. With the full support of the local people, it was officially re-named in 1920 in honour of Cheshire soap manufacturer and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme who bought Harris in 1919 and invested in the building of piers, kippering sheds, houses and new roads. He appreciated the potential wealth of the Hebridean waters and chose the site at Leverburgh because it gave equal access to the waters of the Minch and the Atlantic, so his boats could always find sheltered fishing waters. Leverhulme envisaged the settlement growing to become home to 10,000 people involved in the processing and packing of his fish as well as the fishing itself. He even founded a retail chain, called Mac Fisheries, to sell his fish to consumers around the UK. However, his plans to turn Leverburgh into a large fishing port were abruptly terminated with his death in 1925 and the subsequent abandonment of the island estate by his executors. Houses on the left of the street leading to the pier were built for his managers, other structures remain half-built. Today Leverburgh retains a Post Office, a handful of shops and ferry link across the Sound of Harris to Berneray and North Uist.


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