Times Past 06.03.09


A special Festival of Friendship between Shetland and Holland in 1985 has been proposed by a group of Dutch yachtsmen planning to visit the islands during the Triangle North Sea Race. Their suggestion that a day of celebrations be held on St Johnsmass Day – 24th June – has been welcomed by Shetland Tourist Officer Mr Maurice Mullay.

St Johnsmass Day has been suggested because for over three centuries, from the 16th century, that was the traditional day the herring fishing opened for the hundreds of Dutch fishing boats which every year came to Shetland for the herring.

The idea for the festival is the result of a visit to Lerwick last June by 30 yachts taking part in the bi-annual Triangle North Sea race from Friesland, to Lerwick, Norway and back to Holland.

The skipper of the yacht Shaldon II, the Rev. Ben Hoekendijk, took part in last year’s race and remembers the warm welcome all the crews received in Lerwick. In a letter to The Shetland Times Mr Hoekendijk points out that the presence of the Dutch fishing fleets was one of the main factors to the growth of Lerwick. When the yachts arrived in Lerwick last June, Mr Hoekendijk said: “None of us knew about the special day of 24th June, the feast of St John the Baptist, which for centuries was the beginning of the fishing season for hundreds of Dutch luggers waiting in the Bressay Sound. Festivals where the Dutch traded their good cigars, booze and tobacco for Shetland wool, eggs and meat were held during those days.

“We would like to come to Shetland again on 24th June, 1985 and to make it a day of friendship between Shetland and Holland. As in the olden days we come by sailboat and bring some life and entertainment to Shetland. Could we hold such a festival with music and speeches about our past links? And just as it was in years gone by, we will sail away after St Johnsmass.”

Mr Mullay was very enthusiastic about the proposal. “This is just the sort of thing that could do us both a lot of good. It would be splendid to get that link with Holland re-established. It would certainly strengthen Johnsmass festivities a little – frankly not a lot happens at present. We would welcome the Dutch with open arms and arrange a programme of events.”


The death took place recently at his home at 30 Hillhead, Lerwick, of Mr Thomas F. Moncrieff, a well-known citizen whose work for the temperance cause was noted. Aged 79, he had not enjoyed good health for more than ten years, and was seldom able to move far from his home.

Born at Sillerdykes, Sandness, he attended the local school, where one of his teachers was the late Miss Christina Jamieson. Later he went to school at Reawick and the Anderson Institute in Lerwick.

On leaving school, he was apprenticed to Messrs Lennox & Begg, solicitors, until that firm left Shetland, when he entered the grocery trade. Later still he was in the office of Messrs Goodlad & Coutts, where he spent fifteen years of his working life.

For a similar period he was rent collector on behalf of the Town Council, and resigned in 1941 owing to ill-health. During the war he worked in the Home Guard office at Holmsgarth, where his work was much appreciated by the late sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., the C.O. Mr Moncrieff was factor for smallholdings owned by Sir Arthur for many years.

His most prominent post was that of secretary of the Independent Order of Rechabites, St Columba, Lerwick, No. 2029. He held the office for thirty years, and did much valuable work in both the senior and juvenile sections.

He was an elder of St Columba’s Church for over thirty years, and the illness which was to incapacitate him struck him in the church vestibule.

Mr Moncrieff was a brilliant conversationalist, and had a lively sense of humour, which stood him in good stead during his long years as a semi-invalid.

He is survived by his wife; a son, Mr Tom Moncrieff, teacher of nautical subjects and woodwork in Lerwick Central school; and one daughter, Mrs J. Young; to them sincere sympathy is extended.


Walls correspondent. – The new pier will soon be an accomplished fact. It is to be commenced as soon as the days get longer. The site for the road, which is to lead from the Parish Church to the pier, has been “pegged off”, and will be gone on with very soon. Might we suggest that a raised foot-path for foot-passengers be made along one side of the road. It would not cost anything extra, and would add to the appearance of the road as well as the comfort of walkers, as heavy traffic is bound to keep the cart-way soft. The pier committee are most willing to oblige, and we are sure they will give this matter, suggested in a friendly spirit, their usual earnest consideration.

Foula’s mail-boat has been able to make several return trips during the lovely weather we have been enjoying.

Already the lark has been heard by some of the young folk, who were up for the early work. This, together with fresh fish and lime-washing of houses, etc., surely points to Spring.

We heard a good story the other day. A motor party went to a certain country church one Sunday. One of the party, an elderly lady, very deaf, carried an ear-trumpet, which the old Church officer eyed suspiciously, thinking it was the tooting-horn of the car. The psalm passed off all right, but when the prayer began the lady raised her hand to place the horn to her ear, but before she could do so, the old man, touching her on the shoulder, said: “Gae ae toot, an’ ye’re oot.”


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