27th May 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Times Past

, by , in Features

25 years ago

Fair Isle yesterday celebrated one of the most memorable days in its history, when its scenic, cultural and scientific importance in Europe was officially recognised, and when the island’s museum was officially opened.

Yesterday in Edinburgh and on Fair Isle the island was officially presented with the rare award of a council of Europe Diploma. The award ceremony was made yester­day morning in Edinburgh Castle, to Mr James William Stout, rep­resenting the islanders, and the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Wemyss and March, president of the National Trust of Scotland.

The Council of Europe decided last September to award the diploma to Fair Isle for its scenic beauty, its cultural traditions and its scientific interest as one of the most important points in Europe for migratory birds. Fair Isle is the second place in Scotland to be awarded the diploma since the award was introduced in 1956.

The award means that Fair Isle has been placed until 1990 under the patronage of the Council of Europe. It carries a number of con­ditions, including the recommend­ation that the isle’s North Haven should get a breakwater – which would be the first safe harbour in the history of the island. The SIC has £2 million earmarked for this project in 1990.

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Shetland Licensing Board con­tinued its inconsistency this week when members reversed the pre­vious week’s policy by granting Sunday drinking licences.

Five applications for Saturday night licences until 2.30am on Sunday mornings came before the board at its meeting on Tuesday and while some members set up a pocket of resistance to the idea of Sunday drinking, all licences were granted.

The board had previously promised that an official guideline on policy would be prepared and applied at Tuesday’s meeting.

But, while board members did adjourn for half an hour before considering the extensions, chair­man Major Bill Anderson conceded that the granting of the licences had been pure chance. “At the moment we are voting according to the individual views of the members of the board who happen to be present,” he confessed.

Major Anderson stressed that the board would be coming up with def­inite guidelines as soon as possible but it was proving difficult to organise a meeting.

The board members’ attitude at Tuesday’s meeting means that the Gremista Inn and the North Star Cinema, both in Lerwick, will be open till 2.30am on Sunday morn­ings. These licences are valid until the board’s quarterly meeting in June next year.

50 years ago

An allegation that senior school­boys in Shetland were indulging in drunken habits was made by Mr A.D. Bennet at a meeting of Shetland Education Committee on Monday night.

The allegation was made when the first meeting of the reconstituted committee was being held. The Bursaries and Hostels Committee was being appointed at the time.

Mr Bennet said he had just arrived back in Shetland last week, and he had been perturbed to hear about the behaviour of a certain section of the school population in Lerwick – he did not know anything about the outlying districts at all.

He felt the people appointed to the committee should be people who were not afraid to speak their minds and who could make their presence felt. It had been reported to him – and unfortunately he had seen one example himself – that there was drunkenness among the school population. It was a shocking thing to say but unfortunately it was true.

There were other faults one could mention, but the chief one was drunkenness, and the amount of drinking that was going on among senior boys and girls was absolutely and utterly horrible.

He went on: “If people want names I can give them, but I won’t give them in public. I am prepared to give them to a small select committee.”

He mentioned this fact because most of those who were drinking were people who were receiving bursaries, and he thought it was a shocking waste of public money when schoolchildren could receive bursary awards to be spent on drink and cigarettes.

He asked that the people who were appointed to the committee should be people who were not afraid to speak their minds and come down very heavily on the youths who were responsible.

100 Years Ago

Coronation of King George V – Shetlanders’ Loyal Enthusiasm – The Coronation of His Most Gracious Majesty King George the Fifth, in London on Thursday, was celebrated in Lerwick the same day with all the townspeople’s loyal enthusiasm. When the ceremony of crowning His Majesty was being performed in the Empire’s Capital, the people of Shetland – at the other extreme of the country’s length – were met in heart-whole rejoicing over the event; nor would it be possible to find in any part of this great Empire which girdles the world, a place where a greater loyalty was displayed, or where the jubilation was more intense, than in the Shetland Islands and in Lerwick.

The feeling of an important and happy event to take place was in the air for some considerable time before the day itself. Of course the joint-committee of the County and Town Councils had had the official preparations in hand for some months, but it requires more than official preparations to make a public event a success; it requires that the people, the “man in the street,” should show a moving interest in it and be enthused over it. Such was the case with regard to the local celebration of King George the Fifth’s Coronation; Lerwegians were talking it over, taking a keen interest in it, as all were bound to do who are part and parcel of the State, of which the Kingship is but a splendid and enduring sym­bol. There was a tacit resolution arrived at that the Lerwick rejoicing would be the best that the town could attain, and being best, there­fore worthy of the auspicious occasion.

The spirit in which the local celebration was approached was the spirit of a gala day. The same feeling was apparent as that which pervades the town on Christmas Eve and on the days before Up Helly A’, those two great Shetland holi­days. Wed­nesday night dis­played it typically. A walk along the streets, at this time only partially decorated, gave evi­dence of the kind of suppressed excitement which is seen at the two great festivals mentioned. The shops were open late and the crowd was large. The people were busily en­gaged in laying in stocks of flags and bunting for decoration purposes – later in the night nothing of the kind was to be obtained at any of the shops in town – young men and maidens in holiday mood prom­enaded the thoroughfares till very late hours, and there was noise and joviality and excitement. It was plain that locally at any rate the imminent ceremony was being regarded as a time of holiday and rejoicing – as indeed the Coronation of a King ought to be occasion for gladness. But an undercurrent of seriousness, as befitted the impor­tance of the event, was also observable, and many and hearty were the loyal wishes for a long and happy and prosperous reign for His Majesty King George.