The 1815 birth of Cathrine to Duncan and Sally Black at Big Park provides the first evidence that there was a dwelling house at Park. In 1834, Duncan was paid for supplying lime to Campbell of Barcaldine, showing that the Park limekiln was in operation. He was a substantial tenant, one of very few registered to vote in parliamentary elections. According to parish records, Hugh Carmichael and Mary Black were resident at Big Park in 1831.
By 1841, Duncan Black had been replaced by Dugald (55) and Mary (50) Carmichael, who had moved to Park from Baileouchdarach, with a household of eight, including their eldest son Neil (36). The lease for the farm included the management of the limeburning. In 1851, Dugald (67) is described as a farmer of 48 acres (rent £88), employing two men, and the crowded household included two grown up sons Neil (36) and Malcolm (22, described as a ploughman – first prize winner in the 1855 ploughing match), as well as Neil’s wife Mary, four grandchildren and a herd. Dugald appears to have died before 1855, and the estate permitted Neil to succeed his father. In 1861, aged 40, he had 42 acres, employed a ploughman, two farm labourers and a dairymaid, all resident in a three room house.
Park today. Steadings, white Farmhouse obscured, barn - see attachement
We know quite a lot about the Carmichael years of farming at Park because of the testimony given by Dugald (junior) to the Napier Commission in 1883. Park had not been an arable area and it fell to his grandfather Dugald to drain and cultivate 25 acres; the fact that Park was chosen as the venue for the second ploughing match of the Lismore Agricultural Society in 1854 shows that the work had been thoroughly done. It is likely that the piles of cleared stones that are a feature of the land next to the Dun date from this time.
The rent was raised to £92 when Neil took over, eventually rising to £100. He built over a mile of drystone dykes and, under the direction of the estate factor, introduced a rotation of oats, potatoes, oats, ryegrass and pasture. This was a cause of dispute with the factor as Neil wished to grow oats more frequently, and reduce the area of grass. Nevertheless, the Agricultural Society minute book shows that Neil was a leading farmer, serving on the “committee of management” and winning premiums for oat crops, cattle and horses.
A Scotsman estate advertisement of 1843 confirms that the “Limeworks in Fennachrochan were in full operation” and receipts for lime shipped to Oban in 1862 show that Neil was managing the lime burning at the Park limekins. There is no documentary evidence for the building of the second kiln, nor for the slated cartshed and stabling for four horses next to the dwelling house (the nucleus of Park Steadings – the byre and dairy were built later in the century). Both are built to a high standard, with Etive granite quoins, suggesting investment by the estate, possibly by Alexander Haig, the landowner, around 1860. Later, the limeworking was sublet, with the agreement of the estate.
Neil built a new house for his family around 1868, expanding his accommodation to five, later six, rooms. With some alteration, this is Park Farmhouse today. Shortly after his death, aged 66, in 1879, the family rebuilt the barn to the north of the house. In 1881, Mary (widow, 56) is described as a farmer of 70 acres, 20 arable, with two sons and a son in law at home (Dugald 30 and Duncan 20; and John McGregor 25, farm labourer, married to Mary Carmichael). In spite of the presence of three capable men, and a strong tradition of good husbandry, the estate decided to evict the Carmichaels, as their lease had expired. It seems that, as early as 1881 (see Part 2) Park was to be joined to Point Farm.
Invoice for the shipping of 375 barrels of shell lime from Park signed by Neil Carmichael, 17 May 1862
Dugald Carmichael and his mother moved to a cottar house on Balimakillichan but were soon away from Lismore. They were very bitter about how they had been treated, including the loss of investment in their house and barn, which reverted to the estate. John and Mary McGregor were able to secure a croft at Port Ramsay.