Times Past 22.08.08


A kit house and building supplies business in Renfrewshire has been strongly criticised by several local couples who complain of long delays in delivery of orders. One couple waited a year before their kit house was delivered, another couple are still waiting for new windows five months after placing an order. But the business argues it gives a reasonable service to its Shetland customers.

The business, Norwood Houses, from Kilbarchan, is run by Mr Robert McMillan. He advertised frequently in the Shetland Times up to May, offering kit houses or various home improvements such as doors, double glazing and kitchens. Mr McMillan said he had not placed any advertisements in the paper lately “because I am trying to get a quick turnaround” of orders. “There is no point in advertising of we are not happy that we can give a reasonable service. We wouldn’t normally advertise during July and August anyway.”

The Shetland Times has spoken at length to three local couples who are all critical of the service they received form Norwood Houses.

Comments about security at Sullom Voe terminal in Monday’s Daily Mail by Scottish Police Federation secretary Mr Joe Black were disowned on Wednesday by federation chairman Mr Pat Kennedy.

In the Daily Record Mr Black was quoted as saying security at the terminal was “a joke”. It was a prime target for terrorists and “there should be a large police detachment, possibly with access to firearms, inside the complex around the clock”. In an editorial the paper followed the story up, stating “the Scottish Police Federation considers that security at the base (sic) is simply a joke”.

It was a coincidence that the day after Mr Black’s story appeared, he retired from his job with the federation.

On Wednesday, Mr Kennedy said, “Mr Black was speaking as Mr Black, not for the federation. We do not subscribe to his views regarding security at Sullom Voe.” The terminal was a commercial enterprise, Mr Kennedy added, and security was a matter for the oil companies owning the terminal. “It is not part of the federation’s remit to advise chief constables how to run their constabularies.”


After 38 years as district clerk, welfare officer and registrar for the parish of Tingwall, Mr Walter Mowat, J.P., Scalloway, retired last weekend.

Mr Mowat’s retrial at the age of 66 years brings to an end a unique record – since 1857 there have only been three registrars for the parish, and the same three men have served as welfare officers for a total of 113 years.

First man was Mr Charles C. Beatton, who was inspector of poor (welfare officer) from 1845 and registrar from 1857. In 1895 his son, David Beatton, took over and held positions until Mr Mowat commenced in 1920.

Mr Rankine Scollay, Aldersyde, Scalloway, has been appointed district clerk and welfare officer, in succession to Mr Mowat.

Since 1920 Mr Mowat has also been clerk to the Central Mainland Local Education Sub-Committee (formerly called the School Management Committee), and he became factor for the council houses in 1938.

But in addition to these “professional” duties Mr Mowat has given of his time unstintingly to local trusts and committees. From 1921 until last year he was honorary secretary and treasurer to the Scalloway Public Hall Trust, and has been chairman of the Fraser Park Trust since it was formed in 1942. He was an original member, and served for five years on the Board of management to the Shetland Hospitals, the longest serving member on the Health Executive Council and its predecessor the Insurance Committee, to which he was appointed in the middle of the 1920s.

Mr Mowat was sworn in as a justice of the peace 18 years ago and is an hon. sheriff substitute. He is also treasurer and choir member of the local Congregational Church.

Asked if he had any regrets on locking the door for the last time of the office in which he had worked for so long, Mr Mowat replied emphatically – “None! An office such as this is often a real storm centre, and I’ve had to throw many a bucket of oil on troubled waters.” On second thoughts, however, he added: “But in many ways I suppose I will miss it. I’ve made so many friends and contacts through my position.”


Thirteen seal skins, nine bear skins, one narwhal and four whales (two large and two small ones) comprises the catch of the Dundee whaler Balæna, the first of the whaling fleet to arrive home. This year the Old Greenland fishing grounds have proved productive, and the catch of the Balæna is most satisfactory, and perhaps further success might have attended the efforts of the men had not heavy fog prevailed. In fact, only 48 hours clear weather was experienced from 11th July to 8th August, and this greatly militated against fishing operations.

The Balæna, under Captain Murray, left the Tay on 9th April, but had only been a few days on her outward journey when one of the crew committed suicide. On the 14th, when she was some distance north of Shetland, a lad Duncan, a native of Portsoy, jumped overboard in full view of the crew. A boat was lowered and everything possible was done to rescue him, but he failed to rise, and after an hour’s cruising the Balæna proceeded northwards. The fishing grounds were reached about the end of April, but it was the middle of May before any success came the way of the crew. A whale was sighted in the early morning, and after the animal had been safely harpooned it gave little trouble, and joy reigned in the hearts of the crew as it was brought safely alongside. Almost a month intervened before another whale was seen, and ere the day was out two animals, a large and a small one, were “bagged”; while on the following day an exciting change took place, and, with luck in their favour, what proved to be the fourth and last whale was taken alongside.


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.