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The Death Of Inverness Granty.

Behind the school at Deshar, screened from the road and the school by a thicket of trees is  a small loch.  Marked on the map as Loch Ban, it was and probably still its universally known as "The School Loch". At its greatest extent this was no more than 100 yards by 50 with a maximum depth of perhaps 15 feet.  It is fed by the burn or stream that runs down the hill behind Chapelton, under what was the farmyard , along the side of the lane, under the main road, past the school and into the loch.

This burn has a pretty good flow for most of the time, prolonged spells of dry weather not really being much of a problem in these parts. However as the settlement around Chapelton has grown over the years, so the amount of water left to flow into the loch has reduced as each new house takes it's share.  Even when I was a child I remember a reasonably sized expanse of water, though much diminished from its former size. Now however it is little more than a large boggy puddle in all but the wettest weather. When Mum was child in the 1920's it was at its larger extent.

 As it was so close to the school, the children were forbidden to go anywhere near it. Strange as it may seem,  this sensible precaution killed Jimmy Grant  who was staying in the village for the summer. Jimmy’s Dad, also James worked each summer as Barman at the Boat Hotel in Boat of Garten, he and his wife were estranged but each Year Jimmy would go with his Dad, from his home in Inverness for two months in the country.  This had happened each year so Jimmy  became one of the Village Gang of Lads for the summer. His Dad of course served all their Dads, in the pub, so they welcomed him as one of their gang and were friendly with him, otherwise their Dads would hear about it !  As around two thirds of the children were called Grant, they all had nicknames, his being  ” Inverness Granty” or just “Nessy”

 

As the School Loch was forbidden territory, it had a magnetic  attraction for all the local kids. One fine summer's day in  1929 the attraction became too powerful and a group of boys decided that forbidden or not, the School Loch had to be navigated, like all of the other local Lochs. During the holidays the School Loch was well screened by trees and out of sight.

 

So, the usual raft was built out of bits of old wood, an old inner-tube or two and anything they could lay their hands on that would float. Once constructed the raft had to be sailed.  Word flew around the village kids that the raft was to be launched the following day.  At the appointed time virtually every child  was there, the girls strung along the fence , as it was still forbidden territory, and the boys at the water’s edge with their craft. Quite how the village could empty of kids, without any parents getting  suspicious that something was going on, we will never know. Well the raft was launched and the three designated sailors prepared to embark. These three felt ten feet tall as they strutted their stuff, milking the other kids  adulation  for all it was worth. One of them, was of course “Nessy”

 

The three daring, heroic sailors climbed aboard, and after a push off, paddled out into the middle  of the Loch, where they bobbed around triumphantly. Then it happened!  With a loud crack the rotten old wood broke, the sharp splinter punctured the inner tube, and all three were in the water.   Well, at this there was hilarious uproar from the audience, they all fell about laughing, this was the best thing they had seen for years. Two of the boys struggled ashore, in the uproar of mirth and merriment nobody seemed to notice that the third boy – Nessy - didn’t. 

 

Soon the dreadful truth dawned on them, where was he. Whilst the boys ran around shouting for Jimmy to put his hand up and wave to them, the girls started to run home in terrified tears, and the garbled events were gasped out through tears of panic and fear.

 

The School Loch was dragged, and Jimmy Grant,  Inverness Granty, found at the bottom all tangled up in weed, and very dead.

 

Now if no teacher or parents had made the Loch out of bounds ,then this tragedy would never happened. It was only fun because it was forbidden.

 

The bizarre twist to this tale is that on his death certificate, it states that he died by drowning, but does not specify where. This way be a simple oversight, or I wonder if someone somewhere preferred That Boat of Garten wasn’t mentioned.  Bad for trade perhaps. Who knows pure speculation.

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