Times Past 12.09.08


There may be no ambulances available for the new Montfield day hospital in Lerwick when it opens in April and it is possible that there will be no ambulances even by mid-1985.

The day hospital, part of the overall £2½ million Montfield complex, will be able to accommodate 20 patients every day on a nine to five basis as well as 60 long-term patients. The day patients, who could come from anywhere in Shetland, will need extra ambulance services to get them to and from the hospital.

A day hospital is one where patients in need of medical attention, but who are able to live at home, are brought in during the day for treatment but do not stay overnight.

It is not a day centre but for people needing medical attention.

A spokesman for the Common Services Agency, the body responsible for the allocation of ambulances in Britain, said this week that they should have been recruiting staff for the Montfield day hospital ambulances this financial year, but he explained that “no revenue developments were planned for Shetland in 1983/1984”. This means that the earliest CSA could provide ambulances would be early in the financial year starting next April, the same month as the hospital is due to open. Even if ambulances could be provided in April it would take at least two months on top of this to recruit and train staff. At the very earliest the day hospital might have an ambulance service by about June next year.

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A dance organised by the Shetland CND in Hamnavoe Hall on Saturday night turned into a “fiasco” at the end when violence broke out inside and outside the hall and the organisers were forced to lock themselves in the building to escape from a gang of youths.

Trouble started just before the end when a man was badly beaten up in the hall. As people began to move outside at the end one of the organisers discovered that his car had been damaged. According to CND secretary, Ms Barbara Smith, a number of fire extinguishers were stolen from the hall. Some of the organisers had to lock themselves in the hall to avoid trouble.

The police were called to the scene and a person has been charged with a breach of the peace and assault. A police spokesman said on Thursday that enquiries were continuing into malicious damage charges regarding damage to the cars. Ms Smith said this week: “Thanks is owed to the community of Hamnavaoe who, as in previous years, have generously allowed Shetland CND to use their local hall for fundraising dances. However, sadly, needless and indeed incomprehensible violence marred the peace dance and slandered a community generally so helpful to CND. The event nevertheless raised £400 in the fight against nuclear armaments and for peace.”


Quite an important discovery was made in a loft in St Columba’s Church recently – when an old tin chest was opened there was revealed a lot of “missing” Church of Scotland Presbytery records.

This was reported at a Presbytery meeting on Tuesday afternoon by the Rev. Isaac Ralph, the clerk. The result of the discovery of about fifteen volumes means that Presbytery of Shetland records are complete in one respect from 1700 until 1830.

In that year, two Presbyteries were formed – Lerwick and Burravoe; and in 1843, the Presbyteries numbered three – Lerwick, Burravoe, and Olnafirth. In 1929 all were again brought into one, as the Presbytery of Shetland.

The discovery meant they also had Lerwick Presbytery’s records complete from 1830 to 1929, but the records of the other two Presbyteries in that period were still missing.

Also discovered in St Columba’s was a Tingwall Kirk Session minute book dating from the seventeenth century.

Mr Ralph said the records would have to be sent eventually to headquarters in Edinburgh, but meantime he had a request from Mr John Graham, who wanted to peruse the old records. Presbytery granted this.

Mr Ralph added that it was often said that the Church had never been interested in the people. But he mentioned one item from the 1837 record book, which, he claimed, showed that the Church were interested in the people. In that year the record showed: “27,198 people (in Shetland) have not food sufficient to support life during five months of the year”, and Presbytery petitioned the Treasury because of their “deep interest in the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of the people”. They laid before the Treasury “a statement of the deplorable circumstances in which the poor inhabitants of these islands are placed, in consequence of the failure of the crops and fishings for two successive years. Unless the Government intervenes and grants speedy assistance, lots of people in these islands will die of famine”.


The police authorities are endeavouring to establish the identity of a man who was found shot in a public lavatory in Wellington Street, Strand, London, on Monday night.

The man is aged about 40 years; height about 5 feet 9; complexion dark; hair brown; clean shaven; general appearance that of a seafaring man. A flannel vest he was wearing bore the name E. N. Mortimer, while on the tab of his white shirt was the word “Samphire”. On the cuff of the white shirt was some writing, asking philanthropic Freemasons to educate his “poor bairns”, and stating that his Lodge was Morton (89), Shetland islands.

Written on the shirt cuff of the unknown man who shot himself were the words: “Will some philanthropic Freemason educate my poor bairns? My Lodge is Morton (89), Shetland islands. Goodbye, dearie. God bless you all. Forgive me and blame ——-”

At the inquest on Wednesday the coroner’s officer said deceased had no money. There was not even a bit of tobacco in his pouch. A verdict of “suicide” was returned, the jury considering that there was no evidence to indicate the state of the deceased’s mind at the time.


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