from the Northern Ensign 28 September 1909 entitled “Memorial
TOWER IN COMMERATION
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS OF CAITHNESS.
ceremony in connection with the completion of this tower, which
has just been erected on a prominent part of the braes on the north
side of Wick Bay, was performed on Saturday afternoon, when a large
number of ladies and gentlemen turned out to witness the proceeding.
If it was somewhat appropriate that an element of sadness should
accompany such a function, it is true that it was not entirely a
wanting in this case. If it was not to be found in any marked degree
amongst the people who paid their respects to the memory of their
martial kinsmen—the heroes of a hundred fights—it was
conspicuously observable in the frowning and unsympathetic elements.
The sun had hid his head, the sky was overcast and the clouds could
not refrain, though they did it in the gentlest manner imaginable,
from shedding their gentled tears. Umbrellas there were in numbers
amongst the company, but they were requisitioned only to an inappreciable
Ross who presided, said:—We have met here to-day for the purpose
of holding memorial service. This tower has been erected, and it
is hoped yet to have all the names of soldiers and sailors who have
served their country, and who were connected with town or county,
kept on record in this structure. He called upon the Rev. Mr Dickie
to open the proceedings by a religious service. The reverend gentleman
thereupon read some passages of scripture and engaged in prayer.
town band thereafter played "The Dead March," which was
followed by two buglers ascending to the battlements and sounding
"The Last Post."
Provost said it was intended that Sergt. Coull, the only living
veteran in the county today, should perform the ceremony of unveiling
the inscription, but he had been unable to attend. As it was a rather
disagreeable day, the committee of management had decided to go
on with the programme without further delay, and he called upon
Col. Buik to do the unveiling duty.
E. G. Buik said he was sorry that Sergt. Coull had been detained.
As the representative of the local Territorials, he had, in the
circumstances, consented to take his place. It was the nearest that
could be done at that moment, and he would try to do it.
gallant colonel thereupon polled the cord and relieved the Union
Jack, which up till then had hid the following inscription :—
Perpetuate the Patriotism
Natives of Caithness
Served their Country
Land and Sea.
of their names, rescued from forgetfulness, are preserved for prosterity
in thin Memorial Tower.
names are here:
Their deeds are in the histories of the world:"
The Provost that Sergeant Miller, one of the volunteers who had
gone to South Africa during the war, would place the casket containing
the names of the soldiers and the subscribers in the receptacle
prepared for it in the floor of the building. (Cheers.)
was accordingly done by Sergt. Miller, amid further applause.
Provost called on Pastor Horne to offer a few remarks as to the
history of the tower. He had been the mainstay and principal moving
power in getting it up. (Applause.)
Horne said :- Mr Provost, ladies and gentlemen, we do not gather
here today to glorify war or extol the solemnities of the battlefield.
Our object is one much worthier—warmly. to du homage to the
memory of thorn fellow¬-countymen, of ours who were called to
that sacrifice. For the last four years I have been endeavouring
to collect their names—from old records and histories, by
correspondence and personal enquiry, by visiting the graveyards
in the county, and in endless other ways—and the result is
that we have now rescued from oblivion over four hundred names which
would otherwise have been forgotten. (Applause.) I confess that
in reading over the list I am touched, deeply touched, by an emotion
which has no little pride in it. Among others are the names of men
who stood with Nelson on the famous "Victory” and fought
by his side at Trafalgar, who were with Sir John Moore at the historic
retreat of Corunna and saw him fall, who helped Wellington to shackle
that blood-drinker Napoleon at Waterloo, who cheered and wept with
the relieved garrison at Lucknow, who stood in the immortal "Thin
Red Line” at the Crimea. And those brave spirits were men
belonging to ourselves; they were cradled in our homes and nurtured
on our native soil. (Applause.) The monument we dedicate to their
honour here to-day is meant to embody our appreciation of their
patriotism; but their real monument is an imperishable one, and
which they helped to build themselves—namely, the greatness
and supremacy of the British Empire. (Applause.) I think I ought
to explain that our arrangements for to-day's ceremony are somewhat
hasty, and necessarily incomplete. We had planned everything for
Wednesday next, but we then discovered that the School Board had
also arranged for laying the foundation stone of the new school
on the same day and hour. The present School Board has a reputation
for upsetting things, anyhow. (Laughter.) I might indicate, therefore,
what is contemplated further. We shall have an ornamental weather-vane
on the turret. This is a gift from our public-spirited townsman,
Bailie Simpson. (Applause.) When I suggested to him that he might
mike this offering, he agreed with so much readiness and grace that
I was mad with myself became I hadn't asked him for the railing.
(Laughter.) You see we require a railing to protect the Tower, and
I should have hooked the bigger fish when I was at it, but I expect
that some other kind angel will now give us the railing. (Laughter
and applause.) The flagstone window, are built wide as we intend
to cover them with inscriptions. On the outside we shall carve the
names of the battles represented by our list—TrafaIgar, Waterloo,
and so on ; and, some future day, when cash warrants it, we hope
that the names of all the more than four hundred heroes may be engraved
in the interior. (Applause ) Meantime, we put these names, with
regiments and services, in a memorial urn. If we do not get all
the names engraved in our own day, our children will, I am sure,
see it done; but, being a young fellow myself, I hope to see it
accomplished before I need a staff. (Laughter and applause.) I think
it likely, too, that a floor may yet he inserted in the second storey,
with a stair thither, and that a museum of relics may someday be
established there (Applause.) After that, all you have to do is
to put a tea-room on the roof. (Laughter) Well, now, I wish to tell
you how deeply indebted I am to others for the assistance which
has enabled me to accomplish thin design. When I first mooted the
suggestion to the Riverside Committee they took it up readily. There
were many points to discuss, and not a few obstacles to surmount
; but in course of time we got out into clear water, cod the Committee
celebrated the event by opening the subscription Iist with a handsome
donation of £25. (Applause ) In fact, they have been so generous,
and indulgent with me, I wouldn't be surprised if they erected that
much needed railing in the bargain. (Laughter.) Among the committee
I am chiefly indebted to Messrs. Buik, Simpson, and Fletcher, with
the secretary, Mr Ware. Indeed, I may say frankly, that but for
exertions of those gentlemen (especially Mr Buik) it is doubtful
if the Tower would have reached its accomplishment so soon. (Applause)
There is another gentleman also whom I am obliged to for the successful
issue of my suggestion. He has never been in Caithness, but is as
public-spirited as if he had been born among ourselves. I refer
to my friend, Mr John Shanks, architect, Kirkietilloch, who worked
out the plan for us without fee or reward. (Applause) Well, ladies
and gentlemen, the Tower is completed—at any rate, so far
as the building is concerned. I understand that it was the subject
of much comment and remark by those famous tribes, the wits and
critics—(laughter)—but it is an old Scotch saying (one
frequently forgotten or overlooked, however) that "fools an'
bairns shoudna' see half finished things." (Laughter and applause)
Now that it has taken shape, however, I am sure you will all agree
that it is a handsome ornament to the bay, and no unworthy expression
of our admiration of our fellow-countymen who gave themselves to
the service of our country (Loud applause.)
Buik proposed a vote of thanks to the subscribers, who, he said,
were from every part of the globe, except perhaps the North Pole.
There were none there when they were collecting, but they had been
there since, and he hoped some more money would yet be got for the
tower. They would like to pick up what was required for a railing
to protect it, and especially for the names. It would not take very
much. Two shillings would put on a name. The committee would be
glad to receive the smallest contributions and devote them to this
purpose. He had much pleasure in asking for a hearty vote of thanks
to the subscribers. (Hearty cheer. )
Simpson said —I need not say that feel greatly pleased in
supporting my friend Pastor Horne, in connection with the unveiling
of the "Soldier Memorial " today, which forms an additional
ornament to our bay. It not the first time that Pastor Horne has
figured in this capacity. He was the prime mover in erection of
the Calder Monument and the cross on the battlefield of Altimarlach.
Ladies and gentlemen, it may interest you to know, that our first
public seat was erected on this spot sixteen years ago, and from
that small beginning all the improvement about the town followed.
I will not detain you longer, but would ask you one and all, to
accord a hearty vote of thanks to Pastor Horne; the Provost ; Col
Buik; Sergt. Miller, and the Town Band for their attendance here
to-day. (Loud cheers.)
band playing "God save the King” brought the programme
to a conclusion.
from the John O'Groat Journal 16 August 2013:
to restore historic memorial
The way it was – how the memorial used to look.
BID is being made to restore a Caithness war memorial which commemorates
the sacrifices made by local men at historic battles such as Waterloo,
Trafalgar and Balaclava.
Council wants to return the Soldiers’ Tower on the North Head
path in Wick as near as possible to its original state as it has
fallen into "a shabby condition".
ward manager David Sutherland told the John O’Groat Journal
this week the council plans to lease the ground the memorial is
built on so it can carry out the work.
land is owned by Hempriggs Estate but it has agreed to lease it
to the local authority.
Sutherland said the project is expected to cost between £30,000
and £40,000 and should get under way later this year or early
next year. The main source of funding is likely to be the War Memorials
Trust and the council’s discretionary fund. The work is expected
to be completed within a six-week period.
want to do a proper restoration of the tower, which was built by
public subscription in 1909. The structure is in pretty good shape
but in the 1980s it was covered with cement render which is now
falling off. It is in a shabby condition and a barrier has been
put around it as a temporary measure," said Mr Sutherland.
hope to do up the monument and install an interpretation panel which
will provide information about the battles and the history of the
tower itself. It could become an interesting visitor attraction.
It is quite unique as not too many memorials were built before the
First World War."
Sutherland said the project may have to be carried out in two phases
– the first to remove the cement render and then to assess
the extent of the restoration required.
the work on the tower is finished, Mr Sutherland hopes it could
become a listed building.
am keen to find any photos people may have of the tower between
when it was built in 1909 and 1980. This will be very useful in
ensuring any restoration work carried out returns the tower as near
as possible to its original condition," added Mr Sutherland.
tower was officially opened on Saturday, September 25, 1909. The
ceremony was presided over by Provost Ross along with the Rev J
McAusland Dickie who gave a reading and a prayer. The town band
performed The Dead March, which was followed by The Last Post, played
by two buglers who climbed on to the battlements of the tower.
John Coull, who had seen service in the Crimea and in India and
was the only surviving veteran of that period, was to have unveiled
the plaque but was unable to attend.
place was taken by Col EG Buick while a casket with the names of
400 veterans was laid under the floor by Sgt Miller who had served
in South Africa in the Boer War.
historian Harry Gray said the catalyst and driving force behind
the tower project was Pastor John Horne who had long wished to see
a memorial raised to the Caithness men who had served their country
on land and sea.
intention was to have a room of remembrance on the ground floor
and to erect a middle floor which would have served as a mini museum.
The tower was to have a fence around it and a weather vane on top
but this never came to fruition," said Mr Gray.
the battle names can still be read on the various panels, names
which still ring down the centuries – Trafalgar (1805), Waterloo
(1815) and Balaclava (1854) – but the memorial is neglected.
The entrance was bricked up shortly after the Second World War and
the memorial now looks rather sad and in need of some tender loving
from the John O'Groat Journal 9 November 2016:
on to save Wick Tower
Soldiers’ Tower at North Head was built in 1909
MILITARY tower which has stood over Wick for more than 100 years
could be torn down as public officials consider its future.
Council is looking for feedback from the public on whether to carry
out repairs or level the Soldiers’ Tower at North Head on the outskirts
of the town.
people have reacted angrily to any suggestion of knocking the historic
monument down, branding such a move scandalous.
more in Wednesday's Caithness Courier.