20th June 2018
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Times Past

, by , in Features

25 Years Ago

Almost 1,000 people came to celebrate the opening of Shetland’s new £3 million sports and leisure centre. Fifteen years in the planning and two years in the making the Clickimin Centre was finally ready to take its place at the forefront of recreation in the islands.

The centre was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Shetland, Mr Magnus Shearer, but centre stage undoubtedly belonged to the guest of honour, Olympic Javelin gold medallist, Miss Tessa Sander­son. After she had unveiled a com­mem­orative plaque she was besieged by hundreds of young people and some not so young, who wanted her autograph.

The building was opened to the public at 2.30pm when staff were on duty to show people round the facilities while Lerwick Brass Band performed with their usual panache in the main hall.

Chairman of the Clickimin Recre­ation­al Trust, Mr John Nicol­son, led in the official party which included trust members, represent­atives of the builders, architects and consultants, centre management Andy Mayers, Mr Shearer and Miss Sanderson accompanied by her PR manager Clement Procop.

“Lang lippened and come at last” Mr Nicolson said, was the saying he thought most applicable in describ­ing the building. Appreciation must be given to Lerwick Town Council for their foresightedness in keeping the Clickimin area free from develop­ment, “for this is a real asset”, he added.

Mr Nicolson also thanked SIC, which gave Clickimin Recreational Trust the £3 million to build the centre and £1.5 million to cover running costs.

Mr Nicolson said that he was appreciative of the people who had been cynical over the merits of build­ing the centre. They had always been honest in their criti­cism, he said, “three million pounds is a lot of money in anyone’s terms”. He said he had always responded to the views as genuine concerns, “but I believe the cynicism will disappear and this centre will become a real asset to the whole of Shetland”. Mr Nicolson then handed over to Mr Shearer to declare the building open.

“This is a great day for the people of Shetland to stand in this wonder­ful building in the heart of Clicki­min,” Mr Shearer said. The centre is built on the old town dump and that fact had not escaped him. “Some of us can remember this as the old town dump. I doubt if any­one living nearby could have imagined this wonderful centre coming out of the ashes,” Mr Shearer said. “Please show the Hamefarers this place and show them what the Old Rock can still do.”

Mr Shearer said he trusted that the centre would be well used, not only by Shetlanders, but by visitors out with the islands, visitors whom, he said, would benefit the hotel trade. He thanked Tessa Sanderson and Mr Procop for coming; wished Mr Mayers and his staff best wishes and declared the building open.

Special guest Tessa Sanderson rose to her feet to a tumultuous reception. Dressed in blue, the Shet­land sporting colours – Mr Nicolson later called it female intuition – she could not have been a more popular choice of guest. “It’s great to be here, Shetland is a wonderful place,” she said. “I have come to share my gold medal with the people of Shetland. I salute all of you that have made this centre possible. It’s one of the most excel­lent centres I have ever seen.” Everyone could not be a gold medal winner, she said, but the facilities at Clickimin gave tremendous scope to develop athletic skills. Miss Sanderson then unveiled a com­memor­ative plaque which will be hung in the foyer. The ceremony was then completed with a prayer of dedication by Rev Lewis Smith.

The formalities over the pubic were free to tour the centre and be shown the range of facilities.

50 Years Ago

Mr R B Hughson, the Shetland farmer who recently left the islands for a quick trip to New Zealand has made contact with the Hamefarers there. Mr Hughson arrived on the Dominion Monarch, and will return with the Hamefarers on the Southern Cross.

His first contact in Wellington was with Mr J L Arcus, who is the man responsible for the Hamefarin, and he was introduced to several exiles, to whom he spoke about what was being done to welcome them to Shetland.

The Hamefarers will soon start off on their long journey – the main party sails at 11 am on 6th April when the Southern Cross leaves Auckland harbour and they were given an official send off at the weekend. Last weekend the Welling­ton Shetland Society pre­sent­ed a special concert in their harbour. It was entitled “Hamefarers Flounder, or Adrift in the North”.

Just as the largest contingent of Hamerfarers are about start off on their long sea voyage there was news of a couple who have to make a very long land journey before setting sail.

They are Mr and Mrs Jerry Smith, of 1381 Martin Street, White Rock, British Columbia who have a 3,000 mile rail journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to make before embarking for Scotland. They are due at Greenock on 10th May and will make straight for Shetland.

Mr Smith is a Shetlander and has not been back since he emigrated 40 years ago.

100 Years Ago

On the 31st of March (Thursday this week), the drill season closed at Fort Charlotte, and with its termination there disappears from the Fort and from Lerwick one of the most interesting features of our local life; for it was the prevalence of the Royal Naval Reserve men, together with the gunnery staff and instructors, that did so much to break up the dull period of our winter months and do away with that monotony and stagnation which seems at present to be our portion in the future. But, whatever the future may have in store for us, there can be no doubt that the Royal Naval Reserve, so far as Lerwick is concerned, is a thing of the past.

It seems somewhat strange that an institution which was of compar­a­tively recent origin, which was so largely taken advantage of by Shet­landers, and which has been carried on year by year at Lerwick for over half a century should have left so little material behind. For search as one may, it is almost impossible to get authentic information anywhere regarding the Force. It was some­time in the ‘50s that the Royal Naval Reserve was inaugurated, but at that time men who enrolled had to go south to take their drill. One of the first pensioners of the Reserve from Shetland was a seaman named Hughson, hailing from Delting, who, while proceeding south to perform his drill, accidentally slip­ped on the deck of the vessel, and broke one of his legs. It is not many years since he died.

But under new regulations Fort Charlotte became a drill station, and a small staff of gunnery instruc­tors was stationed in the Fort. A battery was erected on the walls of the Fort, and big gun practice was commenced, the targets being across in the Cruister fields in Bressay. It was either in the fall of 1861 or the early spring of 1862, that the first big gun practice took place; and after completion of the first day’s practice the men had refreshments served in the Fort. But firing from the walls of the Fort could not go on always. Numerous complaints by people in the north end of the town as to damage to property were lodged, and several of the chimney-tops had to be bound round with iron in con­sequence of the shaking sustained by the concussion from the big guns. At that period, a Mr Hender­son, a jovial Irishman, was Chief Officer of Coastguard at Lerwick, and he did much to popularise the force. When it became necessary to abandon firing from the walls of the Fort, the Admiralty secured a lease of the park between North Ness and Freefield, and there a new practice battery was erected in the early ‘60s, with a range leading out the North entrance, and floating tar­gets. The battery was mounted with 56-pounders, and it was quite a gala-day when it was opened.