In the 19th century and early years of the 20th century, corrugated iron offered a cheap and convenient way to build a house, village hall, church or school. Born of necessity, prefabricated kits that could be erected quickly and with the minimum of fuss or construction skills were available off the shelf, delivered to any corner of the country where there was a wharf or railhead.
Regarded by many as a temporary fix, a stop-gap solution until the funds or materials could be found to fashion a replacement in brick or stone, many of these quirky and often colourful little buildings remain standing and in use to this day.
The hamlet of Kinbrace, in the far north, boasts some of the best examples of both early corrugated iron cottages and a tin tabernacle.
The colourful Mission House at the top of the village’s main street was erected in 1912 as manse for the minister sent to tend to this remote parish. The two-bedroomed cottage has been lovingly maintained in its original condition and is now a private house.
Down the street, past the railway station, the local garage occupies an arched corrugated iron workshop and next door there is a quaint single-storey tin shed.
A little further down the road, beyond the sturdy stone-built Old Church, sits Kinbrace Mission, erected at the same time as the Mission House to provide a place of worship for local people. No longer is use, the charming little chapel is still well tended.
To the south of the village, below the cemetery on Tor Breac, stands a derelict former shepherd’s cottage, made from tin and partly enclosed by stock pens and runs. It was built sometime between 1878 and 1906 but, abandoned a good many years ago, is slowly decaying.
Out with the village, beyond the Bannock Burn, there is another corrugated iron cottage, this one, resplendent in yellow, still happily occupied.
For more on corrugated iron houses, cottages, churches, chapels, mission halls and schools, check out the book Tin Tabernacles.