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The Evacuation of St Kilda (clip 2)

Amateur doc about the last people to leave Britain's most remote island

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The preparations and evacuation of the island of Hirta part of the St Kilda group of islands which lies 50 miles off the Western Isles. Dated 27th August 1930. Filmed by John P. Ritchie, amateur cine enthusiast and ornithologist, during egg-collecting expedition to St Kilda. This is unique footage of the preparations for evacuation, the existence of which was kept secret until 1979. At the time of the evacuation, Scottish Office regulations prohibited any photos or newsreel recordings of the event. The married women on St Kilda all wore shawls. The film includes shots of Rachel MacDonald, whose child died for lack of medical attention, and thus contributed to the decision to evacuate St Kilda.

Questions & Activities


  • What can you see being loaded onto the boats?
  • Why are the people so shy?
  • Why do you think the people are covering their faces?
  • What do you think the people are holding?


Textiles / Technology: Research how tweed is made and what is it used for. Experiment with different methods of spinning and weaving in class.

Business Studies: Investigate how and why the market for tweed has changed and how producers have had to alter their business model.

Geography / Social History: Research events leading up to the evacuation of St Kilda and the reasons why the evacuation was kept quiet.

History / Media Studies: Use this clip, other clips of films about St Kilda in the Scotland on Screen collection, and other photographic evidence you can find on the internet to edit your own historical documentary about life on St Kilda and the reasons the island had to be evacuated. Use the record function on your software to add your own narration, then add appropriate music to complete the film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-129-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0793
Date 1930
Genre Documentary, Amateur
School Subject Geography, Religious and Moral Education, Social History, Business Studies
Subject Matter Rivers and Coasts, Textiles
Who John P Ritchie (director)
Where St Kilda
Event Evacuation of St Kilda
Attributes Black and White, Silent
Clip Length 1:06
Film Length 11:00