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FROM THE ARCHIVES: 100 years ago Inverness was only seven wards

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Inverness from Tomnahurich, Joseph Cook Collection, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.
Inverness from Tomnahurich, Joseph Cook Collection, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.

Among the most commonly used archives in our collections are valuation rolls.

Collated annually to ascertain the value and rates of each property, valuation rolls were produced for every burgh and county in Scotland and remain a valuable resource for many aspects of historical research.

Family historians might wish to know where their relatives were living at a certain time, others might be interested in the common occupations in a particular area. Occasionally, valuation rolls contain information which is unique to a certain volume. This is true of the Burgh of Inverness valuation roll from 1922-1923.

1922/23 valuation roll cover.
1922/23 valuation roll cover.

As Inverness was then much smaller, the valuation roll is made up of only seven wards: Merkinch, Muirtown, Park, Southside, Crown, Central and Harbour. Within the wards are street names and indeed streets which have disappeared.

Going through the wards, it is fascinating to see the occupations of tenants, many of which are far less common today (if not completely gone). In the first few pages alone we can see loom tuner, telegraphist and compositor. However, there are also many occupations still familiar to us including hairdressers, bakers and cleaners.

The first street which is noted to have had a different name is Wells Street, formerly known as Fraser Street. This particular road also includes something which was common in Inverness – a row of houses within a street being given a different name. The valuation roll for 1922-23 shows that in Wells Street there was a Pretoria Terrace. This name was in use up until the 1980s but is now gone.

Further on in the Merkinch ward there is Telford Road, named after Thomas Telford the principal engineer of the nearby Caledonian Canal. It was, however, formerly known as Aird Road Street, (this is not a typing error, it did include both Road and Street) presumably as this was the main road out to the Aird.

Telford/Aird Road Street.
Telford/Aird Road Street.

Interestingly, Lower Kessock Street in Merkinch is listed as being formerly known as Veteran Row, and there were still some soldiers living there in 1923. Moving on to what was known as the Muirtown ward, the first street to have had a former name is King Street, formerly Old Waulk-Mill Lade (that is Lade not Lane). Queen Street is recorded as formerly School Lane; this being where the original Central School was sited. Nearby Muirtown Street was formerly Beauly Street. Celt Street was always known as such but there is a theory it was originally known as Celt with a hard C rather than the soft C it has today.

Staying on the west side of the town and moving in to the Park ward, there is the long-disappeared Victoria Park Road (Victoria Park was situated where Maxwell Drive is now). The last two streets with earlier names on the west side of the Ness are Alexander Place and May Court. Alexander Place is listed as being previously known as both Tanfield and Tanners Lane, whilst May Court was Garibaldi Place.

These are just streets on one side of the river which have changed name or disappeared, in future we will look at the other side, including the city centre.

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