Largely unknown to most people, The Dalmore Distillery has an interesting history that intertwines with both world wars. This unique past has been researched, documented and presented in exhibition form, thanks to an investigative project funded by the Orion Group and Cromarty Port Authority. During the summer of 2019 the exhibition was based at the Invergordon Distillery and was free to visit. The exhibition is still free to visit however, it is now on tour around the country and you will have to check its specific whereabouts online at the time of reading this.
Without spoiling the exhibitions content, we’ll briefly touch on the story of The Dalmore’s role in both world wars below;
In 1917, during the First World War, the distillery was inhabited by the U.S Navy. They took over The Dalmore in order to assemble mines that were to be laid between Orkney and Norway in the Northern Barrage. The individual components of each mine were sent from the United States to the west coast of Scotland. From Kyle of Lochalsh they were then transported via rail to The Dalmore.
Large sheds at The Dalmore hosted the assembly lines for the mines. Once constructed the mines were loaded on to U.S mine-laying ships and sent out for deployment. The Dalmore was not the only distillery to be used for this purpose during the First World War, as the Glen Albyn Distillery in Inverness also had a similar setup. The mines were deployed from Invergordon until a pier was built in 1918, which allowed mines to be transported directly from the base. However, Yankee Pier was only completed once the war was over. During the period between May and November of 1918, more than 56,000 mines were assembled and deployed. In 1919 the U.S occupation of the distillery came to an end as it was handed back to U.K Admiralty and then passed back to Dalmore during the mid 1920’s.
The presence of the U.S Navy in the Highlands and the Northern Barrage is a little-known story, and the exhibition goes into fascinating detail unearthing what actually happened during this frantic time in our history. The exhibition displays photographs from a sailor that served at The Dalmore as well as aerial shots, plans and other documentation to add depth to this story.
In 1942 the land to the west of The Dalmore Distillery was taken over once again but this time by the RAF who had outgrown their facilities in Invergordon. The exhibition has a vast array of documentation, photographs and firsthand experiences/encounters from the men and women who served there and are still alive today.
For a truly detailed and fascinating look into the role Dalmore played in both the World Wars, look no further than this wonderful exhibition.