Times Past 12.12.08


THE EEC’s Common Fisheries Policy “has gone sour”, Orkney and Shetland MP Jim Wallace told the House of Commons last week during a debate on the CFP.

Although generally welcomed when agreed in January, Mr Wallace said the fisherman’s association in Orkney and Shetland had expressed concern. “The events of this year have proved their judgment to be more correct than that of the major national associations.”

After a year of uncertainty, it was vital the fishing industry had certainty in 1984, Mr Wallace said, so the fishermen can plan their year and the processing and marketing side of the industry can adapt themselves to new products and new markets.

The fishing industry was vital for many remote areas, Mr Wallace said. For example both the Skerries and the island of Westray in Orkney depended on fishing. “Catching, processing and marketing go hand in hand, but these communities will continue to be viable only if the industry has the certainty and security that it needs.”

Referring to this week’s EEC fisheries meeting Mr Wallace said that he hoped the government would negotiate “in a spirit of resolve” and “achieve a herring deal that is acceptable to the industry and will introduce some certainty into the CFP”.


Orkney stone used in the building of Lerwick Town Hall at the end of last century is deteriorating rapidly, and the Council have been told by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research that remedial work will be costly.

The report noted that the stone used for quoins, string courses, carvings, etc, was obviously poor building stone. The delamination of the stone on weathering was typical of other stone from the north-east of Scotland. It was finely textured and soft – factors which made for poor weathering qualities.

Probably when the stone was imported maximum use was made of it, with the result that it was cut to size, irrespective of bed, and much was laid on cant. This had increased rapidly the deterioration of the stone, and encouraged the tendency to delamination.

The grey sandstone used for the ashlar work was also laminated, but not so noticeably as the Orkney stone. It was much more durable, and was generally laid on bed. It was unfortunate that the building as a whole had not been constructed of it.

A puzzling aspect of the delay was that, on analysis, no appreciable salt contamination in the samples taken from the north and east sides could be detected. Even samples taken from the south side were more heavily contaminated with sulphates of potassium, magnesium and calcium, than with sodium chloride. This suggested that sea salt derived from windborne spray had not been the main cause of decay. Possibly the samples from the north and east had been well washed with rain just before they were taken. The analysis of the sample from the north side suggested contamination from the soil.

Notwithstanding these comments, the decay of the stone takes the form of salt attack, rather than of frost attack.

The report says it is difficult to make recommendations which would be easy to carry out, but thought should be given to certain suggestions. Plastic repairs to the Orkney stone were not desirable, as it was unlikely that sound surfaces could be obtained to provide the necessary bond.

Indents of at least four inches thickness, preferably six inches, could be used to replace the most badly damaged stones, and the worst of the cills would require replacement. Cornices and string courses, where extensively damaged, should be replaced; alternatively, for safety reasons, they should be at least buffed flat.

Finally, apart from the buffing back of the damaged details projecting from the wall faces, and cill replacement to obviate the danger of damp penetration, it might well be that a policy of “laissez-faire” was the best that could be advocated in the circumstances.

The rose window should be inspected at least annually to ensure that it did not become structurally dangerous.


It is remarkable the number of Shetlanders to be found in Chicago, and of these Dunrossness parish claims a large share.

For some time there has been a feeling that a successful club could be formed among natives of the above parish, and in August of this year the idea took practical shape, with the result that a club was formed among natives of Dunrossness parish and others connected with the district.

Since its inception the Club has been a complete success, and bids fair to range its name alongside Scottish societies in Chicago. Its first venture was a moonlight picnic, held on 22nd August, on the Wooded Island, Jackson Park, where a most delightful time was spent by the 60 persons present.

The next gathering took the form of a complimentary dance on 10th October at Ogden Park Assembly Hall, at which 140 were present. The dance was as successful a social function as the picnic had been, and this prompted the Club to hold its first ball. This latter event was held in one of Chicago’s most beautiful halls on 21st November, and was a great success, surpassing the expectations of the most sanguine. The company, which numbered almost 200, was a select one, and few had ever been present at a more enjoyable dance. If there had been any doubts as to the success of the Club, this latest success set all doubts at rest, and further gatherings will be given in the near future.

There is a strong feeling that “Up-helly-aa” should be celebrated in true Norse spirit, and the committee will soon have the proposal under consideration. The Club is called “The Dunrossness Social Club of Chicago”, its hon. president is Mr John Flaws, president, Mr T. A. Bairnson, and secretary, Mr A. Halcrow.


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