Tony Bennadrove – an Appreciation

16 03 2014

As if the sudden demise of Uigunderground train drivers’ leader BobCrowlista wasn’t bad enough, committed socialists in SY (or at least in Garrabost) are today mourning one of the giants of Lewis’s 20th Century Labour movement.

Born in 1925 into a wealthy Marybank family whose fortune had been made in the Barvas-ware craggan industry, Angustony Wedgewood Bennadrove’searly years were characterised by wealth and privilege. Due to his old man being on Stornoway Town Council and his mother being a noted hardline cuireamach suffrachette, Bennadrove encountered radical thinking and challenging debate very early in his life. As a child he met many of the leading world politicians of the pre-war years, including Rams A. Macdonald (the first sheep to become Prime Minister of Branahuie), and Mahatma Garyvard, (the leading figure in the movement for independence for South Lochs).

Bennadrove’s early life followed the expected trajectory of the upper classes – exclusive private education at the elite Westsideminister boarding school in Ballanthrusal, followed by a degree in philosophy, politics and earmark recognition from Horgabost University. But it was the early exposure to politics in his home life, combined with the shock of encountering the lower orders when serving as an officer in the RAF (Rubach Air Force) at the end of WWII, that drove him to seek office.

Bennadrove was initially elected to Stornoway Town Council in 1950, but in 1960 he found himself no longer eligible to sit when he inherited his father’s nickname. His old man had held a vital part time job at Stornoway airport, stopping people from coming in at the wrong entrance and crossing the runway when arriving for their BEA flights to Glasgow. As a consequence, he had acquired the title of “Viscount Steinishgate”. On inheriting his father’s nickname, Bennadrove was legally obliged to leave the Council, get the cuiream and take a seat in the House of The Lord on Kenneth Street. Bennadrove fought for several years to get the law changed before being permitted to renounce his title and return to the Council as plain “Tony Bennadrove” in 1963.

In 1964 Bennadrove joined the government of Hearach Woolson, a charismatic leader famous for his trademark pipe and Gannet raincoat. Serving first as Stornoway’s Postmaster General, Bennadrobh was responsible for the construction of the Post Office Telephone Exchange on Keith St, then Stornoway’s highest building. (Unfortunately, due to the building having been constructed on the site of an old manure depository it became known as The Post Office Todhar). As Post Master General Bennadrobh also campaigned fiercely against the pirate radio stations of the 60s such as Radio Calumina, which sat offshore in Broad Bay transmitting the latest Calum Kennedy, Alasdair Gilles and Tommy Darkie hits to the groovy kids of swinging Stornoway – even on Sundays.

In the late 1960’s Bennadrove became the townie Councilor for Technology and presided over a number of innovative technological advances including a new really powerful Rayburn stove which gave rise to the phrase ‘the White Peat of Technology’. Bennadrove also gave the green light for the development of the first bus to permit passengers to take food on board, the Chicken-Suppersonic Mitchell’s Bus commonly known as ComhannCord.

Bennadrove continued to serve in public life throughout the 70’s (in both Woolson’s and Seamus Calanbow’s administrations) and into the 80’s when he increasingly became seen as a more  radical left wing politician, even more lefty than most Rubhachs. This gave rise to the phrase ‘a Bennadrovite’.

In the later days of his political career, Bennadrove became something of a thorn in the side of the increasingly right wing Labour and Co-op Drapery Party. Bennadrove became a figurehead for workers rights during the 1980’s Peatcutters Strike and often shared a platform with Peatcutters Union leader Amadan Sgarbh.

Bennadrove strongly opposed the construction of Stornoway’s No. 3 Pier as he felt this would have an adverse effect on the town by attracting even more Herring Gulls. He campaigned to stop the Gull Wharf and was the Chair of Stop The Wharf, and remained sceptical about the existence of Weapons of Maws Destruction.

Bennadrove was also a prolific herder of milk cows and was well known for his many Dairies.

Bennadrove is survived by his son Ivorhillary Bennadrove who served in Tony Blarbuidhe’s Cabinet.