Times Past 09.01.09


Restoration work on the on the 15th century Hanseatic Booth at Symbister should be completed by the end of next month and an interior display relating aspects of Whalsay history open by late summer. The building will then open as a visitor centre.

The total cost of the work is estimated at just over £75,000 including £8,000 for the interior display. The Hanseatic Booth Restoration and Conservation Trust – formed by the SIC in March 1982 to raise funds and organise the restoration – has received over £63,000 so far through grants and local fund-raising.

The Hamburg booth is a unique reminder of the once thriving trade between Shetland and the Hanseatic ports of Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck. Recognition of that link came this week when the trust heard that the Hamburg City Council were to give a donation of £250 towards the restoration. A German charity, Shröder, has already donated £100 and the trust are hopeful that donations may yet be received from the other two German ports.

In the Middle Ages Hanseatic merchants set up trading booths all over Shetland. The Hamburg Booth and the Bremen booth – now a dwelling house – at Symbister are the best surviving examples of these buildings.


Although less fish was landed at Shetland ports during 1958, it was still a very good year for most Shetland fishermen.

It is estimated that their earnings for the year were about £85,000 more than in 1957. Total earnings, excluding subsidies, were around £530,000, compared with just over £440,000 in 1957 (excluding subsidies). The subsidy payments in respect of white fish and herring will add about £50,000 to the total.

The increased revenue has been brought about by the fact that larger boats in the fleet have landed more fish direct at Aberdeen market.

At Shetland ports, total landings were about 252,000 cwts., a drop of 17,000 cwts. on 1957. But earning remained practically the same at £309,000, thanks to the good herring season. Included in these totals are the summer herring landings of 140.322 cwts., valued at £113,963. Therefore the white fish landings at local ports amounted to roughly 112,000 cwts., valued at £195,000.

But at Aberdeen, Shetland boats landed another 78,000 cwts. – nearly 20,000 cwts. more than in 1957. Earnings from this source totalled about £191,000, compared with £114,000 in 1957.

Shellfishing landings have also been substantially greater during 1958. Estimated value of this section was £30,000, compared with £18,000 in 1957 – and that figure itself was about double the 1956 total.

Much of this is due to the fact that many island lobsters are now sent by air to the south of England. Southampton is one of the favourite markets, because many Shetland lobsters are bought for consumption on the liners crossing the Atlantic.

With a new outlet for fish available at Scalloway this coming year, coupled with the hope that the Fleck Committee will be issuing a favourable report, and the possibility of resumed klondyking, it would appear that the fishing industry can look forward to 1959 with reasonable confidence.


Saturday last was the first day for paying Old Age Pensions in Shetland, and all the way from Unst to Sumburgh, the post office officials had quite a busy time. At no place was there any crowding at any time during the day, but pensioners presented themselves before ten o’clock, and continued to drop in during the day. Some were old and very feeble, and had to be assisted by friends to the office.

At Lerwick there was one pensioner who came forward and presented her book. On receiving her five shillings, she looked at it carefully and asked the clerk for the balance. it was explained to her that she had got her full pension, whereupon she replied: “Oh, yes; I have four years’ arrears to get, for I am now 74 years of age!

With the exception of Foula and Tingwall, etc., where our returns are incomplete, the male applicants number 620 and the females 1167. Lerwick (burgh) has the greatest number – 204, while Bressay has the smallest number – 54.

YELL. – In Yell, there have been 159 cases to be dealt with. Of these, 4 applicants were found not to be 70 years of age; 6 cases have been and 1 is like to be appealed to the local Government Board, and 2 have been disallowed in respect of being in receipt of parochial relief.

WHALSAY. – the total number of applications for Old age Pensions received by the Whalsay and Skerries committee was 73. Of these, 70 have been successful – 32 males and 38 females.


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