22nd June 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Times Past 12.06.09

, by , in Features

25 Years Ago

In principle there was no reason why Shetland should not “twin” with a town in Russia or Eastern Europe, Shetland Islands Council decided by 11 votes to eight at its recent meeting.

Councillors were asked by the joint twinning department of UK councils if it were interested in twinning with the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. Mr Willie Tait and Mr John Graham both argued that the matter should be taken seriously as only contact between ordinary people in different countries would break down the barriers between East and West.

Convener Mr A I Tulloch commented that the council should twin with Poland, rather than the Soviet Union, “because we have more in common with Poland”. Mr Henry Stewart said they would need to know whether a twin town in Russia was near a concentration camp while Gordon Walterson commented that they did not know western Europe that well, let alone eastern Europe.

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Here is a Shetland Joke for your readers. I hope they like it.

Question: When is a man cutting peats like a film director? Answer: When he is working with a cast of thousands.

David Robert Potter (aged 11), Hillswick.

50 Years Ago

Faroese councillors, technicians and workmen are likely to visit Shetland this summer to study roadmaking methods in islands where construction problems are similar to those in Faroe.

This was revealed this week by Mr J P Moar county road surveyor who has just returned from a weeklong visit to Faroe.

About a year ago Torshavn Town Council made enquiries locally about roadworks. They wanted technical information from the surveyor, but it was difficult to give answers by correspondence so the council invited Mr Moar to Faroe to benefit from his advice.

Mr Moar took a week’s holiday to coincide with the Tjaldur sailings from Lerwick and the result was an interesting experience.

It is obvious, says Mr Moar, that the Faroese have concentrated their funds on productive enterprises – fishing boats, processing plants, hydro-electricity schemes and piers have had priority. Local authority housing is unknown but apart from that roads have been the “Cinderella” service.

Torshavn is growing at a rapid rate – the population is now over 7,000, Mr Moar understands – and the council there realise that they must tackle the road problem more seriously now that their productive plans are at least well on the way.

It is perhaps only natural that they should turn to Shetland for advice, for Shetland does have many problems similar to those in Faroe and they wanted to know exactly what Shetland had done. At one stage of the proceedings it was thought that it might be a good idea for a party of Shetland workmen to visit Faroe and give practical instruction on the spot. But it was later felt that the better method would be if a party of Faroese could come to Shetland and be attached to the surveyors department for a short period.

This visit would probably come off in August, when the Faroese are sending a football party to Shetland in any event, provided the County council agree. Likely visitors would be the Torshavn provost, town officials and a few workmen.

Apart from the official side of his visit Mr Moar was full of praise for Faroe and admiration for the go-ahead methods of the Faroese, among whose latest achievements is the opening of a new heated swimming pool in Torshavn.

100 Years Ago

How bright and bustling the fishing centres throughout the islands grow under the influence of the arrival of the fisher folks. Their arrival suggests a period of activity, of work for all who will work, a time of earning and a time of spending. I do not know if I am prejudiced, but I have always thought that, taken altogether, there is not a better or more sober class than those who follow the line fishing and the herring fishing – and the latter includes both male and female. I know there are exceptions, females who can be held up as “terrible examples”, and males whom one would not care to set before the very young as patterns; but when that is admitted the broad fact remains that the fisher folks are a kindly, honest, hard-working people, who respect the law of the land and seek to “live at peace with all men”.

From now until the middle of September (except anything very extraordinary happens) there will be in Lerwick alone an increased population of several thousands, about 1500 of which (to put it at a low estimate) will be females. But the great majority of the fishermen will hail from England, and I must confess that I have a special admiration for the English sailor, whether he is on board a herring fisher or a British man-o’-war. Wherever you meet him he is the same – brave and fearless of danger, yet withal he has the heart of a schoolboy, always ready to see the droll side of life, and to laugh defiantly at all the difficulties and troubles that beset him. And now that the season is about to open in Shetland seriously, I do hope it will be a time of prosperity for all connected with the fishing and dependent on it; and that we have for a time, at least, seen the “lean years”, which so many of our Shetland fishermen have experienced at country stations since the introduction of whaling in Shetland.

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A frequenter of the Fish Mart informs us that the Cold Water Compact has been dissolved. Some time ago, a great number of gentlemen connected with the fish trade voluntarily became teetotal, and “swore off”. It was not known whether this was on account of the budget rise in the price of whisky, or merely a desire to experiment in how it would feel to “reform”; but whatever the cause, the Compact held together splendidly until Wednesday this week, when some children of the flesh became backsliders, and on Thursday there was a general debacle, and now the members are all “back to their original position” balmy and gushing, under the influence of John Barleycorn.