Times Past 01.08.08

FEARS are growing this week among Shetland’s milk producers that if the Freefield dairy, which is currently on the market, is sold to interests out with the islands it could mean the end of the dairy trade in Shetland.

The producers claim considerable interest has been shown in the dairy, by far the biggest in Shetland, by businessmen from Aberdeen, “some of whom are large producers themselves who could quite easily bring their own milk from Aberdeen three or four times a week”.

But on Wednesday these claims were dismissed as “rubbish” by the present owner of the dairy, Mr Jim Burgess. “I think that’s rubbish, I don’t think that would happen at all,” he said. “You cannot take milk from Aberdeen and manufacture it here three times a week. It wouldn’t be fresh enough for one thing. I doubt if there will be any change for producers whoever buys the dairy.”

That is not the opinion of the producers however, who, last week asked the council to buy the dairy trade in Shetland.

The producers claimed this would have serious implications for the consumer as well as for them. “Shetlanders have been the victims of both seamen and dockers’ strikes in the past when no milk reached Shetland and rationing was enforced,” they argued. They claim that because of the Shetland climate and high freight charges, both for cattle and fodder, milk can be produced much cheaper on the mainland and they would not be able to compete.

Councillors did not agree with all the proposals put forwards by the producers on how the dairy should be run if purchased by the council but acting chief executive, Mr Jack Burgess, said he felt more appropriate proposals could be found. He added that the council would have to act quickly as the closing date for offers to buy the dairy was in two weeks time.

It was announced by the University of Aberdeen yesterday that in the course of excavations conducted in Shetland by a party of students under the direction of Professor Andrew C. O’Dell, a cache of Celtic ornaments was found on St. Ninians Isle.
The find consisted of 25 examples of Celtic metalwork; in quantity and quality it is unique in Scottish archaeological records. Under a slab with an inscribed cross were found traces of a wooden box. Among the relics are a reliquary bone, 12 brooches up to five inches in diameter, six bowls and a ganging lamp seven inches in diameter. All the metalwork possesses the characteristic Celtic design and craftsmanship. The brooches are further decorated with semi-precious stones. One object bears an inscription, which has not yet been deciphered.
The contents of the cache have been taken to the British Museum for immediate preservative treatment after which, in accordance with the desire of the proprietor of the land in which they were found, it is proposed to deposit them in Aberdeen University museum for sage custody and exhibition until such time as Shetland has its own suitable museum.
Professor O’Dell wishes it to be known that he was most reluctant to remove from Shetland the examples of early craftsmanship which were discovered without giving Shetlanders generally an opportunity of seeing them first. It was clear, however, that the bronze and other metals had become tender with age and needed expert treatment to arrest the process of decay which was accelerated with exposure. An attempt to arrange for an expert to fly north proved impracticable and the only solution was to take the metalwork south.

Aithsting correspondent. – The following letter is being signed by knitters here, and will be sent to its destination in course, viz.: –
“J. CATHCART WASON, Esq., M.P. – Sir, – With many thanks for your services in the past in the interests of the country in general, and Orkney and Shetland in particular, and with full confidence in your abilities as a fit and proper person to continue to represent this constituency in Parliament, we, the undersigned knitters, beg to ask you to use your influence to have the truck Act amended in relation to the sale and purchase of Shetland hosiery goods, whereby local dealers therein may be exempt from prosecution for supplying goods in payment at the request of the seller.
“The hosiery trade has been very important in Shetland; but for the benefit derived from that industry many in these islands would have been reduced to the point of starvation. It is, therefore, highly important that strong representation should be made against anything which has a deleterious effect on the manufacture and sale of the article.
“We regret that the recent prosecutions of certain local merchants under the said Act, appears to have affected its sale. In the absence of co-operation, the merchants are indispensable, and we think the Act should be amended as stated.”


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.