At Raasay House from time to time we receive interesting emails from people in places like Australia and Canada who have family roots here on Raasay. We recently received a slightly different email from a gentleman in Ontario, Canada who has come across some Raasay House history following a house clearing. We found his email and the photos he sent quite interesting and have shared an excerpt from the gentleman’s email below along with the photographs he sent. Maybe there are some Cochranes out there that might have some information about the people in the photos.

“Some years ago, two old trunks were found in the attic of a house here in Sarnia. Being somewhat of a local historian, they were sent to me to determine if they held any historical information. One trunk contained negatives, mostly glass plate, but some early film and a few contact prints. The other trunk contained correspondence of the Cochrane family of the UK. Having determined they held no local content, the trunks and contents were given to me.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that a Cochrane descendant had previously lived in the house, but had since passed away leaving no local relatives. By looking at the negatives and reading some of the correspondence, I was able to determine that the family at one time (c1885-1906) owned a cattle ranch near Calgary, AB and they would travel back and forth between the ranch and the UK each year. Unfortunately, all the envelopes are missing, I presume taken for the stamps, so all I have to go on is the stationery the letters were written on.

So, I’ve been trying to match scanned images from the negatives to letters, but haven’t been having much success, however I was recently given the name of one of the houses – RAASAY HOUSE. So far, Raasay house is the only one still standing. I’m hoping that you might have a little history as to who owned/lived in the house from 1900-1910, the time frame of the majority of the negatives. I’m attaching scans of the negatives that I believe pertain to Raasay House, although I may have others that I have made the connection with. The scans are small to enable me to attach them. If you would like larger scans and more information on the Cochrane family, just let me know. Any information you could send would be most appreciated.”

During that period 1900-1910  the house was owned by (Edward) Herbert Wood and his wife Mary Douglas Wood. Although Mr Wood was only 25 years old when he bought the Raasay estate, he was definitely not short of money being the heir to the Staffordshire Five Towns’ pottery fortune. Wood bought the house and the estate in 1876 from George Rainy who put up the infamous wall. Wood paid £65000 for the estate including the house which would be about £4 million today. 

Sadly, although he was said to have provided some employment to local men, Woods kept going with the existing policy of clearing inhabitants from the south and central part of Raasay to make way for deer and game. Residents who weren’t pushed up to the north end of Raasay and Rona were sent overseas. 

Mrs Woods Room Raasay Ho

“Mrs Wood’s Room” photographed by geography student Ian Button when the house was derelict in 1977

Following Mr Wood’s death it is rumoured that Mrs Wood, left on her own, moved into a small section of the house in the West Wing. In that wing there is a room with a big bay window which was supposedly her bedroom, we still refer to this room as “Mrs Wood’s Room”.

Here is a link to the timeline of the ownership for the Raasay estate.  https://www.highlifehighland.com/skye-and-lochalsh-archive-centre/wp-content/uploads/sites/123/2015/03/SL-D222-Raasay-Estate.pdf

You can see the Wood family as part of the house history here http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/GDL00321