21st February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Times Past

, by , in Features

25 years ago

Repair work on SIC Cruden houses has increased their value eight or nine times, councillors were told on Monday, but there is nothing the council can do to stop the houses being sold to their tenants at bargain-basement prices.

Mr Leonard Groat had asked the director of housing, Mr Jim McConville, whether any of the refurbished Cruden houses had been sold. Mr McConville said that he thought “perhaps one” had been.

“Could we know the profit the council made on that transaction?” asked Mr Edward Thomason.

“It’s a sad situation,” replied Mr Willie Cumming, the housing chairman. “Here we are with a shortage of houses and we’re giving away new ones for practically nothing.”

Captain Malcolm Bray asked Mr McConville for a comparison of the value of a Cruden house in Lerwick before and after refurbishment. Mr McConville said he did not have exact figures but he thought the houses would now be worth eight or nine times their former valuation. Before repair they were only worth between £4000 and £4500 each. “It’s a very good deal for anybody,” was Mr Cumming’s final comment.

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Gale force winds and lashing rain forced a postponement of Scalloway’s torchlight procession and galley burning last Friday, but all the rest of the day’s fire festival engagements were completed without a hitch. The organisers are hoping for better weather tonight so that the main spectacle of the festival can be successfully completed.

This year’s Guizer Jarl is Robert Johnson, who is LHD’s manager and auctioneer in Scalloway. He represented Torf Einar, Earl of Orkney, son of Earl Rognvald of More.

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Unlikely as it may sound, train holidays to Shetland are now on the cards. The travel firm Chilton Trains, in Oxfordshire, are featuring two holiday packages to Shetland in their 1986 programme. Their tours, organised for rail enthusiasts, include rail travel from King’s Cross, Edinburgh or Perth to Aberdeen, from where rail travellers would have to become sea travellers on board the St Clair.

50 Years Ago

The state of Shetland children’s teeth is appalling, the chief school dental surgeon, Mr J Allen, has told Shetland Education Committee in his annual report.

He has asked the committee to back him up in a four-point plan for “rehabilitating” the children’s dental health. The committee on Monday night was sympathetic and promised co-operation, but did not give Mr Allen a straight “yes” or “no” on the point of providing pieces of carrot or apple as an after-school item at school.

At the beginning of the school year it was feared that Shetland would once more have to rely on the efforts of one school dental officer and one practitioner for the treatment of the overwhelming amount of dental disease in this county. Fortunately this situation prevailed for only two months. Miss Jennifer Heyworth arrived at the end of September to accept the appointment of assistant school dental officer and, in November, a second general practice was established in Lerwick. The treatment plan for the school service was to have one dental officer full time in Lerwick throughout the year while the other, when available, visited island districts with the mobile unit.

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A decision to allow a young Eshaness child to travel daily to attend school at Urafirth rather than at Eshaness was criticised by the Rev. H.A.S. Brydone at Monday’s Education Committee meeting, but in the end the decision was allowed to stand without any amendment being made.

Apparently the Schools and Staffing Committee agreed to permit enrolment outwith the child’s district because it had two older members of the family already attending Urafirth, and the parents thought it would be better for the youngster to travel with them.

Mr Brydone said this was the second such decision taken in a matter of months in that area. He had always understood it was the distinct policy of the committee that children should attend their local school, except in very extreme circumstances.

It was a very far reaching decision, said Mr Brydone. There were eight or nine children on the Eshaness roll, and only one child under school age. In a year or two they would be thinking of closing Eshaness down – that was the way things were moving.

It was anything from six to eight miles from Eshaness to Urafirth, and he thought that was too far for a young child to travel daily.

He hoped the decision had not been taken for an ulterior motive – to so reduce numbers at Eshaness that the local school could be closed. If that was the reason then people should know about it, and why such decisions were being taken.

100 Years Ago

Captain Threatened – Stirring Scenes Aboard a Ship in the Tyne – Stirring scenes on board ship were recounted at South Shields, when Captain Fred Trend, of the brigantine William Dyer, summoned two of his seamen, Frank Cooper and Magnus Leask, for threatening to murder him, and for doing wilful damage to the extent of £3 18s 6d.

The captain stated that the vessel arrived in the Tyne from London on Sunday night, and next day he asked the two defendants to get to work at discharging cargo, but they refused, saying that they had had no holidays. They went ashore, and on returning at night, Cooper went to the captain’s cabin and demanded 5s which was refused. Cooper went forward and, returning with two other men, said “Now there’s three of us and we want 5s each. It is murder or money to-night.” They were persuaded to go away, but the witness said he shortly afterwards heard Cooper tell his two companions to get a handspike each, stand by the cabin, and if the captain came up, “fell” him.

The captain said that Cooper proceeded to smash the skylight and companion doors with his handspike. Cooper then got a hammer, and said, “I am going to murder you with this.” After this the three men left in the ship’s boat, and the third man had not been seen since.

After evidence by the mate, and the cook, Leask was discharged. Cooper was fined £1 and costs and ordered to pay the damage, and also bound over to keep the peace towards the captain for six months.

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The Art of Listening – It is an excellent thing for a girl to be a good conversationalist – when she is not so clever or learned as to make the average man feel ill at ease – but it is equally necessary that she should be a good listener. One would naturally suppose that it is easy to sit and listen. It is not. If it were, more girls would do it. For nothing else is so appreciated by the average man. To listen and to give the idea that what he is saying is the most interesting thing you ever heard – that is the royal road to a man’s heart – or to his vanity, which is often the same thing. He would rather talk and have you sit by in admiring, enchanted silence than have you cap his wit with something wittier, or have you turn the talk to your personal interests.

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New Year Prophecies – According to an old book of signs and prognostications, we learn: “When New Year’s Day falls upon Sunday that a pleasant winter doth ensue; a natural summer, fruit sufficient; harvest indifferent, yet some wind and rain; many marriages; plenty of wine and honey; death of young men and cattle; robberies in most places; news of prelates, or kings; and cruel war in the end.” While the direction of the wind on New Year’s Eve is also an important matter, for:
If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west much milk and fish in the sea,
If north much cold and storms
There will be;
If east the trees will bear much fruit;
If north-east flee it man and brute.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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