South Ronaldsay, Orkney

Orkney travel stock photograph - Old boat sits abandoned in Barn, South Ronaldsay, Orkney

Staircase in abandoned derelict building, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, Scotland

living room of abandoned house, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, Scotland

Abandoned house, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, Scotland.

I wonder what stories these old walls could tell.  Once it was probably the center of a large farm.  Times changed and the old ways lost their charm.  The young generation left home for the glamour of the city.  No one wanted to live on the edge of the world anymore.  The house sat alone, empty.  The paint faded.  The roof caved.

22 replies
  1. Wendy Loneragan says:

    Hi Cody,

    Am wondering where this derelict house is. My ancestor, William McBeath and others lived at “Burwick” – houses #35 &#36 in 1821 Census 1836. Photographer Ian Balcombe said the house is still there but deserted and derelict. It’s just up from where the John o’ Groats ferry comes in on the A 961. Could it be this one?

    The ancestor, William McBeath went to South Australia in 1836/7 – where I now live.


    Wendy Loneragan

  2. peter semple says:

    My grandmother came from Burwick farm which the Allan family had for most 19th century till about 1928/8 when John Allan died age only 42. His initials can still be seen carved in the plaster of the living room c 1905. I have photos of the Allan family outside the farm & my uncles spent time there in the 1920s. Their initials are carved in the stone step of the Byre. John Allan was drowned age 19 years in the famous wreck of the Dunbar which hit the Heads Sydney in 1857…only 1 survivor.
    The building was gutted by fire in the 70s.

  3. Rosemary Daniell says:

    Cody-your photography is superb-and very touching when it is of ancester’s homeland in Orkney. Linda Hardie, my 3rd cousin so many times removed,passed on the family information. I too was a Hardie by birth. Being an only child and my father having no sisters I thought I was the last of the Hardies in our line.My father sadly died far too young for me to have asked all the questions I had when I began seeking my Familys History.Always I remembered him telling me of his favourite’Wee Aunty of the Isles’-of his mother Isabella McBeath Hood being so proud she was descended from King McBeth-of his Aunt Net married to Bertie Camplin-Smith[who was Stage Manager of the Garrick Theatre in Londons West End]-and of joining his parents in London[where they had moved to from Edinburgh]when he was about 9.He travelled in the care of the guard of the train. As all family hearsay some is true-but I have not expected to find royal forebears.Searching is an absolute delight of realities ,newly discovered relatives-and some frustrations and disappointments. I can now imagine Mary McBeath[ms Leask] living in a snug house on Orkney ,then complete,shown on your photo as it is nowadays. Thank you so very much.What is your link? Regards Rosemary.

  4. jean davidson nee bruce says:

    hi peter semple, my grandfather(andrew thomson) bought burwick in 1928 from the Allans. my father and mother (who was andrew thomsons daughter) worked it til 1969 when my father died. i have tried everywhere to get a photo of burwick when it was a working farm and wander if i could have a copy of your photos.i was born in the farmhouse and lived there til i was 19.

  5. jean davidson nee bruce says:

    my grandad,Andrew Thomson bought burwick in 1928 from the Allans. He moved from Newark on the island of Sanday in Orkney when my mother, Thomasina Thomson was 13. She married John Bruce and they took over the farm in , i think about 1947. I was born in the upstair bedroom to the right of the main door and burwick was my home until 1969 when my father died only 58. Can anyone give me a photo of burwick as a working farm.

  6. Maureen Czarnocki says:

    Hi Wendy, Trying to contact you on behalf of all of us who form FH 2/62 – Just about history now-it’s 50yrs since we started our training & we’re gonna CELEBRATE! Ros says she found you with Google but this is the closest I’ve got. Hope it’s successful. Do ypu have an email address? Hope to hear from you. Maureen (Maunsell)

  7. Vicki Elizabeth Langmaid says:

    I am interested in contacting Wendy Loneragan as my father’s mother was Violet Victoria McBeath who was born at Lallawa Station in South Australia. Married Alfred Joseph Blackwell at St John’s Church, Meningie, South Australia in June 1900. I think Wendy might have done research on the McBeath
    s; my grandmother’s father’s name was William McBeath.
    I live in Adelaide and would appreciate hearing from Wendy via email or telephone 8 278 6556.
    I would like to see if we are both from the same McBeath family?
    All good wishes,
    Vicki Langmaid (nee Blackwell)

  8. Mark Forrest says:

    I’ve taken similar pictures in these buildings – they are in a fairly picturesque state of dilapidation. Is there anything anyone wants to know about how things are today? I’ll be leaving Orkney in April 2012

  9. Gloria Baxter says:

    My GG Grandfather was William Mcbeath I am related to Henrietta McBeath (née Ayres)
    I have been to South Ronaldsay and there are Sinclairs Leasks Mowatts etc in my lineage
    I am very interested in any information anyone can give me I live In Melbourne Victoria
    My husband and I hope to be back in Scotland in may 2013 regard Gloria Baxter

  10. Caroline McKillop says:

    I am a great great great granddaughter of William McBeath and Mary Balfor McBeath nee Leask who I believe lived at Burwick Farm in South Ronaldsay around 1817 to 1822 when William died (drowned). I have been following my family history for some years and have happened to come across the photographs of what is possibly the inside of the farm. I have also learned of distant cousins who are descendants of William and Mary’s son, William. My branch follows his sister Isabella McBeath, b. 14/12/1822 after her father died.

    I would be very interested to receive copies of any other photos of the farm or any further information from other branches of the McBeath/Leask tree

    Yours hopefully,

    Caroline McKillop

  11. Wendy Loneragan says:

    Gloria, please email me (see comments above (g/g/g/g/daughter of William McBeath (Adelaide SA) There’s some interesting new information and I’d love to learn more about these Orkney families you mention.

    Please note all who enjoy Cody’s exquisite photos that the McBeaths and Leasks of ‘Burwick’ in the 1821 Census would have lived in the ruined croft not the 2 storey house which was built about 20 years after they left.

    Wendy Loneragan

  12. Lynette Samblich says:

    Hello,all! I visited this site some time ago and am delighted to see how it has progressed.

    My common ancestor – also William McBeath from the Orkney Islands
    My great grandmother – Henrietta McBeath (Ayres)
    My grandmother – Mary (Min) Ayres who was exceptionally proud of her Scottish heritage

    I am thrilled to see your listings- please feel free to email me.
    I will return to this site, as soon as time permits.
    Regards, Lynette

  13. Lynette Samblich says:

    Cody, apologies for using your site as an ancestry forum, but viewing your work is much like reading a book-the visual images are enticing and draw heavily on our imaginations. Thank you.

  14. Cody says:

    Hi Lynette,

    No problem. I never imagined that my taking a few photo’s of of an old house would help connect together people from across the world. And as someone who as done a fair amount of research on my own history, I’m glad to be of help…

    Any my apologies if your comments don’t appear straight away. I’m often traveling without an internet connection for up to a few weeks at a time and can’t always approve comments in a timely manner.

  15. Gloria Baxter says:

    Dear Lynette. My Mother was Alice Mildred Lee ( née) Ayres . Aunty Min was her sister and she came to stay with us when we lived in New Zealand .She came on holiday with my mother and Aunty Paul .We came back to Victoria in early 1970s We all loved Aunty Min. Best Wishes Gloria Baxter jk

  16. Wendy Loneragan says:

    Hi Gloria and Lynette,
    Please email me and we’ catch up with the latest info for William McBeath.
    Mine was the first comment after I found Cody’s great pictures of Burwick
    Best wishes,
    Wendy. (Adelaide)

  17. Gloria baxter says:

    Have just come back from the Orkneys, and was told at the genealogy centre that Burwick farm is now a listed building and we could see where there has been work started, regard Gloria baxter. Sept. 2015.

  18. Anthony Allan says:

    Hi, the “Allan’s” you are referring too are my family originally from Cava then Swona. I am a direct decendent of William Allan and Catherine Rosie North House Swona. Kind regards Anthony Allan, New Zealand.

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