22nd May 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Times Past

, by , in Features

25 years ago

Four weeks after it closed its doors with the loss of 110 jobs Shetland Fish is expected to re-open in 10 days under new management and a slightly different name.

It was announced on Friday that 40-year-old Humberside self-made millionaire John Hughes has bought the two plants at Gremista and Northmavine for an undisclosed sum. The SIC has lost nearly £200,000 by closing the company down.

Speaking after a two-day visit to Shetland, Mr Hughes, whose com­pany Hughes Holdings of Clee­thorpes is mainly interested in cold storage and food processing machinery, dismissed speculation that he intended to “asset strip” the plants. He said: “I know the fish processing industry backwards because my company have equip­ped most of the fish factories in Britain. I have been looking into an entry into processing and Shetland particularly attracted me because of the quality of fish there.

“We are keen to get into the blue whiting market in the UK and Europe. I am trying to organise a joint venture with some people in Faroes.”

Last year Mr Hughes bought the Findus food factory at Cleethorpes and held the biggest machinery auction in Britain before re-selling the plant. His company, which he describes as “go-ahead”, made a profit of over £700,000 last year from a turnover of £6 million.

Although the Lerwick plant will re-open on 23rd June it could be some time before it and the Northmavine plant come back into full operation.

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P&O Ferries should not be given a grant from the council’s oil money towards the cost of a second passenger ship on the Aberdeen run, according to the SIC transport committee.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the committee decided instead to recommend that P&O should look at putting up their fares by three per cent to cover the gap between the £4.2m which the company says it can raise and the estimated total cost of £5.7m.

The committee was told that the ship which P&O had in mind was the Panther, a cross channel ferry which the company used to own before it sold most of its ferries business to European Ferries. The Panther is 345 feet long, with a beam of 61 feet and draws just under 15 feet. She is one of the few such vessels available which is the right size to fit the Stromness roll-on/roll-off terminal in Orkney.

Mr Jim Irvine, the chairman of the committee, advised members strongly against recommending a grant to P&O. After a long and at times confused debate the com­mittee agreed to a motion from Mr Henry Stewart and from the con­vener, Mr Edward Thomason, that the council should tell the company to look at increasing tariffs by three per cent to cover the shortfall.

50 Years Ago

Members of Lerwick Harbour Trust had a variety of ideas as to the best site for the “Welcome to Shetland” sign recently gifted to Shetland Tourist Association and which the Association want to erect at the head of Victoria Pier slipway. But after a lot of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting it was left to the harbourmaster to put up the sign at the slipway in a temporary fashion so that it can be moved if it is not displayed to advantage.

A letter from the Tourist Association said that the harbourmaster and Mr G.H. Burgess, who had been present when the Association’s committee went site-searching, could explain the position. Mr Burgess told the meeting that it was difficult to find a site as the sign required to stand out by itself to gain a full effect. Some people had favoured erecting it at Sumburgh Airport but the general opinion was that the pierhead, where most visitors first landed in Shetland, was more appropriate, and the Association had decided that the only site was at the head of the slipway facing seaward.

Lerwick now has a fine new hospital but one thing it doesn’t have, and that is a car park at the hospital for the benefit of visitors.

That this was not an oversight was revealed at the Town Council meeting, when reference was made to parking difficulties at the hospital.

A letter on the subject has been sent by the police to the local Hos­pital Board, and a copy was sent to the Town Council. The letter stated that a problem had arisen on the main thoroughfare at the entrance to the building.

The police were of the opinion that parking facilities would be provided within the scheme, and they were surprised that, now the building has been completed, that had not been done.

It was an offence to park on the public road, but quite apart from that the main thoroughfare was unsuitable.

At one time the Town Council was approached for permission to allow a car park in the vacant site on the seaward side of the road opposite the hospital. The Council had already given the hospital authorities an assurance that no building of any kind would ever go on that land, in order not to obscure the hospital view.

However the whole cost of the operation was getting to such a high figure that finally the Regional Board informed the local board they could not undertake the provision of a car park.

Allied with this item was further consideration of the street parking order. Last month a list of streets was given where parking without lights would be permitted, if the order is approved. A decision was deferred until this meeting, because Mr Anderson wanted additional streets included.

100 Years Ago

School Board of Northmavine – A meeting of the School Board of Northmavine was held at Swarthoull on Tuesday. Present – Messrs Thos. Ratter (Chairman), Thos. Anderson, Thos. Hawick, Donald Sandison, Arthur Harrison, and James Porteous.

Attendances from various schools submitted as follows: – Eshaness, 85.9; Northroe, 87; Ollaberry 84; Sullom 87.3; Urafirth 89.2; Gunnister, 94. The Clerk was instructed to warn a parent at Sullom and one at Northroe about their children’s attendances, which were very irregular.

A letter was read from Miss Nicolson, teacher, Urafirth, in reference to closets. The Clerk was to reply that the present arrangement was the best from a sanitary point of view, and that the Board intended to adhere to their decision of last meeting. She also asked for a porch to the back door of the schoolhouse as the house was very draughty, but the Board could not see their way to grant this. The rate of remuneration for cleaning Urafirth closets arranged by the Clerk was confirmed.

A letter was submitted by the Department regarding alterations at Northroe school and asking for plans and specifications to be forwarded. The Clerk was instructed to have them prepared and sent up for approval.

Instructions were sent to the teachers to give a week’s holiday during Coronation week, in response to the circular letter from the Department. The usual school vacation was fixed from 31st July to 27th August inclusive.

The estimate of income and expenditure for the rising year was submitted, and adopted, and it was decided to ask the Parish Council to assess for £150 – being the same amount asked for as last year.

It was agreed that prizes for regular attendance be given as formerly, and that special prizes would be given next year to all pupils who made over 95 per cent. Of attendances during the year, for the purpose of encouraging the children to give better attendance.

The Clerk was instructed to see that peats were cut for the Sullom schoolhouse, if that had not been already done.

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Visit of Turbine Steamer – We are informed that on Tuesday, 27th June, the new 23-knot turbine steamer belonging to the Great Western Railway, the Duke of Argyll, will arrive at Lerwick, in the course of a cruise extending to the Hebrides and Orkney and Shetland. The directors of the Company with their wives and families will be on board, and the vessel is expected here at seven o’clock in the even­ing. This should provide a good chance for local shopkeepers, especially in the shawl trade. Captain Macewen, marine super­intendent of the Scottish Fishery Board, has been lent specially by the Board as pilot for the trip.