Times Past 24.10.08


The official inauguration ceremony for the new Skerries ferry “Filla” scheduled for Wednesday had to be postponed as it was not possible to get the ferry to Shetland from Norway because of bad weather.

The 80 foot ferry and her crew of four will wait in Eggersund until weather conditions improve and SIC director of construction, Mr Billy Smith, said he hoped the vessel would arrive in Shetland at the weekend. A council spokesman said the inauguration ceremony will be held on Skerries in a fortnight’s time.


A recent Shetland concert held in Aberdeen was a sell-out. The concert was part of the Aberdeen Alternative Music Festival organised by the city’s district council.

Councillor David Clyne asked the Shetland Folk Festival Society to organise a party of artistes for a Shetland concert at the festival. The result was that 33 Shetlanders played to a full house at the Aberdeen Arts Centre. They included The Shetland Fiddlers, Rhoda Bulter, Hom Bru, Debbie Scott, Davy Tulloch, Henry Henderson, Ian Nicolson and Gussie Angus.

The Shetland party was in Aberdeen for the first four days of the 10-day festival. As well as the Shetland concert they played informally in pubs and clubs and even an impromptu concert at the docks when they got off the St Clair.

This was the first alternative music festival in Aberdeen but it was such a success that the man behind it all – Councillor Clyne – hopes to repeat the event next year. He was particularly pleased with the Shetland contingent and has put forward the idea of holding an island trade exhibition along with the next festival.


A series of public meetings are to be held throughout Shetland to discuss the policies of the Shetland Movement. This was agreed at the movement’s recent annual general meeting.

Discussion papers on a variety of topics are to be produced and eventually they will form part of a movement policy document. Subjects will include economic development, transport and services, community councils, finance, education and culture. Shetland Movement policies will be discussed with the Orkney Movement at an annual joint meeting to be held next May.

More local control of local affairs is still the movement’s aim. Members at the AGM were told that “the increasing centralist policies of the present government now threaten even the limited autonomy of local authorities.”

The Shetland Movement now has about 800 paid up members. The AGM re-appointed Mr John Graham as chairman. Other office bearers are John Goodlad vice chairman, John Robertson secretary, George Hunter treasurer and Robert Williamson membership secretary.


Another thrilling lifeboat rescue in the early hours of last Friday morning kept many Shetlanders glued to their radios. The new Lerwick lifeboat, on its first call-out since the lifeboat arrived on station two months ago, snatched three Russian fishermen from a dangerous position on the Holm of Skaw, Unst.

Unfortunately, it is believed that 22 other Russians lost their lives in the worst disaster round the Shetland coast for many years. That was no fault of the lifeboat, which was out on the search for nearly 24 hours.

Coxswain Sales and his seven-man crew, in fact, “did another Samba”, and risked their own lives to pluck the three Russians off the rock in gale-force conditions, in darkness, and with the lifeboat occasionally touching the bottom. Such magnificent courage undoubtedly deserves further recognition.

The story as far as most islanders were concerned started at 9.20pm last Thursday night, when the maroons were fired and the lifeboat sent out on the long journey to the north of Unst – in the face of a force-eight wind and heavy seas.

Earlier, however, people in Unst had seen flares, and at 8.48pm Wick radio had picked up an S.O.S. message from a Russian parent ship, Tomck. It was to the effect that the trawler SRT 4442 required urgent assistance two miles north-east of Flugga light.

Baltasound Lifesaving crew were called out, and later they were joined by a party of men from the R.A.F. station at Saxavord. While it was the lifeboatmen who carried out the rescue, great praise is due to these men in Unst, who stood by for many weary hours, and were at one time prepared to risk their lives by launching a small boat to cross to the Holm.

Praise, too, for the coastguard service, led by District Officer T. Price in Lerwick. They were on the job all night – and a hectic one it was for the men on duty.

Praise, too, for the skipper of the Aberdeen trawler Ben Heilem, first ship to arrive in the vicinity of the casualty. Throughout the night he acted as the radio link between the Russian parent ship, lifeboat, coastguard, etc., and he did a magnificent job in a cool, calm and patient manner – particularly when he was in contact with the Russians, who simply could not understand that the Ben Heilem was not the “leefaboat Lervik”.


Dear Sir, – I have read with great interest the discussion on the hosiery question in your paper for some weeks.

I see that some are for the Truck Act, and some against it. I think I can safely say that the Aithsting knitters would all like the old system back again. When we went to the shops with hosiery, we got any sort of goods we wanted, just the same as for the money. What profit is it to get the money for our hosiery, if the merchants give us 3d. less on every hap and spencer we sell?

We got little enough before for our hosiery, but now it really can’t pay us for the trouble of making it. We get the money for our hosiery, but if we took the money and went to any other shop I don’t think any of the merchants would give us a very warm reception when we came again with hosiery. I think the Truck Act should never have been applied to the country shops. It was different with the town shops, where they could only get tea and cotton for their hosiery; but in the country we could get all sorts of groceries for our hosiery. I think too that the merchants ought to give us more for our hosiery. I wonder how it is that we only get 1s.3d. for our spencers, and the same kind are sold in Edinburgh for 2s.6d. each. I hope that soon we will be back on the old system again, and get more for our hosiery that we are getting now. – I am, etc.

Aithsting, Bixter


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