The Uig POs and their Postmarks


From Islands Postal History Series, No 3: Lewis, by James A Mackay.  Published by the author, 1978.


The Gaelic name Miabhaig is derived from an earlier Norse name whose vik ending signified a bay – in this case one of the many inlets of West Loch Roag on the west coast of Lewis. A foot post from Stornoway to Miavaig was instituted in 1857 and was eventually upgraded to a horse post and then a mail car service, providing a thrice-weekly collection and delivery of mail from the populous region of Uig in the heyday of the herring industry of the late nineteenth century. From Miavaig branch posts radiated to many of the surrounding townships, such as Valtos, Aird Uig, Crowlista, Islivig and Brenish to the west, and to Carishader, Gisla, Croistean, Kinlochroag, Kinlochresort and Loch Hamnaway to the south.  In the late nineteenth century Miavaig (see 1911 picture) was second only to Stornoway itself in the importance of its post office, which had savings bank, money order and telegraph departments.  The decline in the fishing industry, and the gradual increase in the number of other sub offices in the parish of Uig, diminished the importance of Miavaig post office, though its relatively long history is reflected in the fact that it has had more postmarks than any other Lewis post office except Stornoway. [See also detail of the unsatisfactory mail launch service c1920.]

A sub postmaster was appointed in 1857 at an annual salary of £3 and used a Scots Local namestampwith the name in italic capitals between twin parallel lines.  This stamp is known in black cancelling adhesives as late as January 1860, butin common with these name stamps in other parts of Scotland the Miavaig canceller was withdrawn shortly afterwards.  Thereafter Miavaig did without a postmark of any kind until 1872. In that year the post from Stornoway was increased in frequency and the telegraph was established.  The latter necessitated the issue of a ‘thimble’ datestamp in September. This was fitted with code letters and though primarily intended for use on telegrams it was also used to cancel the adhesives on letter mail around the turn of the century. By 1907 this datestamp was showing extensive signs of wear and in August of that year it was sent back to Kirkwood’s in Edinburgh to be fitted with a new case. While this was happening Miavaig got a skeleton datestamp. This was fitted with a clock time, though no other datestamp, before or since, has had this feature.

The reconditioned datestamp was fitted with a case of a larger diameter and was used without code letters, both for counter work and cancelling letter mail, until October 1934 when it was replaced by a double-circle thick-arc stamp inscribed MIAVAIG/STORNOWAY. This stamp was comparatively shortlived, being followed in April 1936 but a double-circle stamp inscribed STORNOWAY I of LEWIS round the foot.  This in turn was succeeded by the current thin-arc datestamp, inscribed ISLE OF LEWIS, in August 1955.  All three double-circle datestamp have had an asterisk above the date.


This township, as its Norse name implies, stands at the head of an inlet (vik) in the Parish of Uig on the southwest coast of Lewis and has the most westerly post office in the island.  A weekly foot-post from Miavaig, ten miles to the northeast, was established in 1876 and this was increased in frequency fifteen years later.  The following year, on 29th October 1892, a sub post office was opened at Islivig and a branch post extend to Uig Lodge in 1896. By 1907 a branch post had also been established from Islivig to Mealist though subsequently this terminated short, at Brenish. Islivig and Brenish townships are now served by the Timsgarry-Callanish postbus.

No datestamp was issued until August 1897 when a large-diameter rubber stamp was inscribed ISLIVIG/STORNOWAY. The sub office appears to have been upgrade in April 1910, for it then received a brass mailbag seal and a single-circle datestamp inscribed ISLIVIG/STORNOWAY with spacing dots at the sides. Originally fitted with code letters, the datestamp dispensed with this in its latter years.  It was superseded by a double-circle, thick-arc datestamp inscribed ISLIVIG/STORNOWAY in September 1939 and this was superseded by the present stamp inscribed ISLIVIG/ISLE OF LEWIS in August 1955.


The township of Enaclete is situated on the western side of Little Loch Roag on road 8011 some five miles south of Miavaig which is its nearest money order and telegraph office.  As such, it also had the benefit of the rural post established between Stornoway and Miavaig in 1857.  Enaclete did not get a sub post office of its own until 1931 or 1932.  The exact date of the opening is not known, but the office was listed in the 1932 edition of the Post Office Guide.  A large-diameter rubber datestamp was originally used and was inscribed ENECLATE/STORNOWAY/ISLE OF LEWIS.  It was allegedly superseded by a double-circle, thick-arc datestamp on or about 9th September 1935, though I have a late usage of the rubber on 12th October of that year and the earliest example of the steel datestamp that I have so far recorded is 10th January 1936.  The steel datestamp was inscribed ENECLATE/STORNOWAY and was used without code letter or asterisk. It was followed by the current thin-arc stamp, inscribed ENECLATE/ISLE OF LEWIS, in August 1955.