The Thurso Heritage Society
The Thurso Heritage Society was founded in 1981 through an amalgamation of the Thurso Folk
Museum, Friends Of St Peter's, and the Thurso Society. All of these organisations had similar
interests so it made good sense to form one body which would cover all roles.
The Thurso Hertiage Society at the
unveiling of the Donald Swanson memorial, 12/08/2014 - Photo courtesy of John MacRae
During its first year Thurso Heritage Society was already making progress in raising funds
for necessary and specialist repair work towards Thurso's popular attraction Old St Peters Kirk.
A large part of the work consisted of repairs to the substantial tracery window. Other phases
had checked the structural failure in the tower, and secured, pointed, and capped all the walls.
Restoration of the chapel entrance, paving of the northeast corner, and tidying of the yard were
Work started in the Thurso Museum in 1983 to catalogue, conserve and redisplay the museum
exhibits. This was the first of two redevelopments that have taken place involving the society
in the former Carnegie Public Library. The second saw the redevelopment of the former museum
which had been run on an entirely voluntary basis by the Society for over twenty years. Much
of what is displayed and the associated information came from the collections which were
safeguarded by the society to promote not only the history of Thurso but also the county.
The wealth of knowledge embodied by the members of the society has seen us become the point
of contact, regularly working with schools, visitor groups, and other local charities providing
educational talks and walks around the town.
In 2009, the Society in association with UKAEA and the Highland Council installed information
panels around the town to coincide with a heritage guide book, much of which can be found on the
"Around town" page of this web site.
Later the Thurso Heritage Society once again turned its attention to Old St Peter's Kirk,
assisting in installing new gates and barriers. Seeing that a bench near the river (installed
in memory of the nineteenth century botanist and geologist Robert Dick) was falling into
disrepair the society raised funds to replace it with a substantial Caithness Flagstone bench
in 2011. The same year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of our organisation.
Now, members of the society along with The North Highland College's NHC Online have
established a long term programme to digitise private local collections of historic photographs,
maps, films, and documents to make them openly available for the first time.
We are very grateful to the funding organisations and businesses that have helped make
this possible, particularly the people of Thurso, home and abroad, who showed tremendous
support helping in fundraising and providing their fascinating memories to be recorded for
This project came about when Alan McIvor (society chairman) contacted NHC Online regarding the
possibility of creating a website to promote the history of Thurso including the use of
historical items held in his ownership.
After some initial meetings with Marc Farr (business development manager) and Jacqueline
Mackenzie (graphic designer) it became clear that a searchable educational website could be
created for the benefit of the community and ex-pats, whilst raising the profile of the
charity and its valuable work. It was from this, that Thurso Interactive was born.
As work began, the society was delighted when access was granted to the collection of the
late Henrietta Munro for inclusion on the website. We hope to include other collections in time
and welcome anyone who would like to contribute material that is in their posession for
The digitised items on this website are kindly provided by the following collections:
Significant contributions from John Thurso and others are to follow shortly.
Do you have a story?
We are very interested in preserving people's memories of Thurso, either written or oral.
Like the examples on this website we can perform informal, friendly interviews in the comfort
of your own home whether it be about your school days, employment, shops and businesses,
or absolutely anything else relating to Thurso, Scrabster, and the surrounding area.
Please click here to contact us with your story.
The Thurso Heritage Society welcomes new members that are prepared to offer support, time,
and knowledge, which can be used to further our work through and raise the profile of this
Design and programming by Marc Farr