Stornoway black pudding has gained gourmet status throughout the UK and beyond, largely as a result of the promotional work – and fantastic marag dubh – of Charley Barley MacLeod.
The original Charley Barley’s father, Murdo MacLeod, left Lewis in the early 1900s to work on a Patagonian sheep farm. He lived there for several years, working for a family named Menendez and when his son was born in 1915 he named him Charles Menendez Macleod.
The young Charley Barley – MacLeod is the most common name on Lewis and surnames are often replaced by patronymics and nicknames – grew up close to where his shop now is and gained an agricultural degree from Aberdeen University.
The original MacLeod shop
He served in Europe and North Africa during the war and returned home to open a butchers at Ropework Park in 1947. In 1958, Charley bought Crobeag Farm and spent a number of years building up the farm and his livestock herd to ensure his butchery business had top class products.
When Charley died in 1967, aged just 52, he was buried on consecrated ground on Eilean Chalium Chille (St Columba’s Isle), part of Crobeag Farm. The business was taken over by his widow Mabel and his two sons, Iain and Charles. The two junior Barleys run the company to this day, Iain looking after the retail and butchery side of the business while Charley manages the farm.