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Mystery workers
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Mystery workers

An Orkney family photo that we are trying to identify. We have no idea when it was taken or who this ancestor is but would really like to know what they are doing (which trade). Any information about the photo would be appreciated.
Picture added on 03 October 2014 at 10:56
I think they are about to remove the heavy batten bolted to the wall (which has a big crack in it). They've put another batten underneath, propped up by the timber the guy has his toes on. Then they'll pop inside and unscrew the nuts (which is why they don't need a ladder etc.) They seem to have taken a break quite early, no doubt to get a photo before the man on the right dissolves completely. (That could be the spanner in his hand.)
A task of this kind would be within the capability of most able-bodied men - particularly farmers back in the day who could do anything - so these men wouldn't necessarily belong to any particular trade. What was to happen after the batten came down might well be another matter. Maybe that's why the photographer was there - to catch the whole thing crashing down.
Added by Ian Hourston on 03 October 2014
Ian, if you look closely the chap on the left is holding a chain that runs up to the horizontal wooden arm and down to a block of stone, the chap on the right possibly holding a pull down bar for lifting the stone, going on the lengths he'd have around a x2.5 advantage. So masons, dressing stone? I'd say the wooden frame isn't at the wall but nearer to the camera.
Added by Dave Smith on 13 October 2014
Thanks for that Ian, I was away down the wrong track thinking about a trade.
Added by Joanna Lynch on 13 October 2014
Don't be too quick with your thanks Joanna - I think Dave Smith is much nearer the mark!

Your eyesight is clearly better than mine Dave. Now I can just see the chain, though I can't make out where it runs down to a stone, and agree there can't possibly be a great crack running through that fine wall. But that thing looks awfully flimsy for a lever of some kind. Nevertheless that's what it must be. I still can't see how the contraption could be used in any sort of skilled work; the main skill needed would seem to be in stopping the thing falling over without the wall to hold it up. So belay my last pipe, as a Naval friend used to say; for me at least the mystery deepens.

Sorry to have misled you Joanna.
Added by Ian Hourston on 21 October 2014
could they be using a jumper drill to bore a well/ bore hole, the seated man gives the drill a bit of a turn every time it is raised
Anonymous comment added on 12 July 2018
Please look at Rousay Remembered-Sourin, part 4 of4 and see a picture of a bore hole drill similar to the one above
Anonymous comment added on 13 July 2018
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