Lighthouse gets royal approval

The Princess Royal performs the unveiling of the plaque at the Sumburgh Lighthouse Visitor Centre. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The Princess Royal performs the unveiling of the plaque at the Sumburgh Lighthouse Visitor Centre. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Wet, windy weather greeted the Princess Royal when she arrived at Sumburgh for the official opening of the lighthouse complex today.

Princess Anne’s plane touched down early, and she was welcomed by Lord Lieutenant Bobby Hunter, then whisked up to the lighthouse compound by Land Rover, to emerge sensibly dressed in navy blue hooded anorak and trousers.

The Union flag, the Shetland flag and the Saltire were flying damply at the entrance to the area, now transformed into a world-class smartly-painted tourist attraction combining leisure and education in a £5.4 million project led by Shetland Amenity Trust.

The crowd of around 250 invited guests stood outside as Princess Anne, who is patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, was shown around the 200-year-old complex by amenity trust vice-chairman George Sutherland.

And when she emerged, smiling, to perform the ceremony, it was clear she was enjoying herself.

Princess Anne thanked the amenity trust for inviting her to see the “innovative” project, and said: “It’s a pleasure to see the lighthouse and the environment as it’s meant to be.” The area had a tremendous history of its own, she said, and the renovation would mean it would have a place in today’s society.

The princess went on to say that heritage of lighthouse stations was a “real issue”, both in the UK and internationally, and many places would envy Sumburgh, which had now been given a future.

Amenity trust chairman Brian Gregson recalled the 14 years since the idea of the restoration had been first mooted by the Ness 2000 conference. What had once been a warning to marine traffic was now a “shining beacon” for all to enjoy, and it was “absolutely appropriate” for a major royal to open it.

Capt Sutherland said it had been in 1814 that lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson had first made his “recce” visit to the area. Now: “the wheel has come full circle”, and the area is once again “looking as a lighthouse station should”.

The Shetland flag masking the commemorative plaque was then taken away, and the princess was presented with a Shetland wool “numnah” (saddle pad) and a Burra Bear. She was then quickly transported away to join the lighthouse vessel NLB Pharos.

• More from the royal visit, including a selection of photos, will be published in Friday’s Shetland Times.

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6 comments

  1. Patrick Anderson

    I had a lot of respect for the Amenity Trust when I used to work there, sadly they’re giving this woman- who recently said that badgers should be gassed- undeserved publicity.

    The Royals are not well-liked in Shetland at any rate. In fact many people even despise them. You could’ve chosen a much better person to do this.

    Reply
  2. Ali Inkster

    £5.4 million to subsidise tourists holidays in Shetland but we are closing schools. What kind of Shetland do we want? Are we going to continue denying our young folk a future so soothmoothers can come here and look at puffins. £5.4 million spent on engineering courses at the college would pay back teens of millions of £ every year how long will this “investment take to pay off?

    Reply
  3. Rachel Buchan

    I don’t mind the cost of the lighthouse project, but how much did it cost to have her here?

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      So you are happy for £5.4 million to be spent on this while we are closing schools? £5.4 million which just happens to be 0.1% of the subsidy we send south every year

      Reply
      • Rachel Buchan

        Unfortunately that £5.4 million still wouldn’t have been spent on funding for education, even if it hadn’t been spent on the lighthouse project. If there had been an alternative option of it being spent on education, then I would have been more than happy. But there wasn’t, and I am not here to indulge in a hypothetical argument.

  4. David Spence

    Good Point, Rachel………I suspect there would not be much change out of £100,000 for Princess Anne to come up here for a few mins and do the job a Shetlander should have done.

    Cost of the project £5.4 million…….. minus the greed factor (a capitalist’s portion (£4,860,000)) = £540,000 lol

    Reply

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