Times Past 13.03.09


The adverse effect of seals on fish stocks and a call for a seal cull was debated by councillors at the development committee meeting on Monday.

Mr Davy Johnston said that he would like to see a seal cull, he thought that otter and seal stocks were doing tremendous damage to fishing. He was backed up by Mr Stuart Gray and Mr Henry Stewart. Mr Stewart said that fish of all kinds would disappear and that harm was being done to the ecology by letting the seal population rise. Mr Gray thought that the seal population was reaching “alarming proportions” and said a sensible licensing system should be set up. However, Mr Edward Thomason thought a great deal more investigation was necessary before “such a provocative motion” was adopted and Mr Chris Dowle thought that the idea of a cull was “the most outrageous rubbish I’ve ever heard”. It was agreed that a report should be drawn up on the seal population before any further decisions were made.

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Pathetic wallpaper hanger Willie Binns of Gulberwick is still looking for a couple of rolls of Spiderman paper. His sons Rory (5) and Iain (3) loved the idea of Spiderman paper in their bedroom, until dad realised he hadn’t bought enough to cover the whole wall. As luck would have it, the paper is no longer sold, so Willie placed a desperate advert in last week’s paper.

When asked about his dad’s wallpaper hanging, young Iain, who was three on Monday, just gave a deep sigh and raised his eyes to heaven.


Mr Alex Irvine, of Boddam, Dunrosssness, died in a Lerwick hospital at the age of 82 years, after a brief illness. The funeral on Wednesday from Dunrossness Parish Church was one of the largest ever seen in the district. It was conducted by the Rev. H. R. Bowes, Scalloway Methodist Church, assisted by the Rev. A. G. Paisley.

The many floral tributes included wreaths from Shetland Sheepdog Club and Shetland Marts, with both of whom he was closely associated.

Mr Irvine’s claim to fame was, of course, in livestock circles. He was a son of the late Mr Alex Irvine of Tingwall, but moved with the family to Vatchley, Dunrossness, when he was only two years old.

As a young man he started hiring with a horse and gig, and introduced carting. For many years he ran the mails from Vatchley to Dunrossness, and later started a butcher’s shop at Broonie’s Taing, along with his brother-in-law, under the name of Irvine & Tait.

When his brother John died twelve years ago, the grocery business at Robin’s Brae, which was carried on under the name of Alex Irvine & Sons was taken over under the name of Irvine Bros.

Another section of the business was the operation of motor transport – both buses and lorries.

Mr Irvine was a regular attender at livestock sales and agricultural shows throughout the county. His services as a judge were always in demand, and he showed unerring judgement in picking out the best collies, sheep and dogs. His greatest interest was the Shetland collie, and he had been a breeder for about sixty years. Many of his young dogs were sold throughout Britain and overseas, and he was a founder member of the Shetland Sheepdog Club, of which he was president for many years.

He was also a founder-member of Shetland Marts, Ltd., and a former chairman of the company.

He held many appointments outwith agricultural circles. For 57 years, he was a member of Dunrossness District Council, and at the time of his death he was vice-chairman. He was member of the old School Board for Dunrossness, and he only gave up his post as clerk to the District School Management Committee some three years ago.

As chairman of the Dunrossness Hall trustees he played an important part in the extension of the present building.

He was chairman of the original Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society, and he was one of the first men in Shetland to run a poultry station under the Board of Agriculture.

An ardent Methodist, he was a lifelong member of Dunrossness Methodist Church.

Mr Irvine will be greatly missed by a very wide circle of friends in many walks of life in the islands.


Medical Officer of Health Report. The hospital under the control of the Local Authority are the Infectious Diseases Hospital, and a temporary wooden erection for cases of smallpox, situated at the Knab, which was erected in 1904. The Infectious Diseases Hospital is a comparatively modern structure, with 8 beds, and is finished in a satisfactory manner. The nursing staff consists of a trained nurse and two servants, who will also assist in nursing when required. As I have already mentioned in previous reports, the present Hospital accommodation is quite inadequate to the increased population, as was found out during the past year, when the hospital was filled, and it was found necessary to erect a temporary wooden extension to the hospital. The scheme of amalgamation with the County for a joint hospital, which has been under consideration for some time, has now been settled, and the work of extending the hospital is now being proceeded with. The wooden erection at the Knab for cases of smallpox was principally intended to be of a temporary nature. During the past year, it was employed for the reception of cases of scarlet fever when the Infectious Diseases Hospital became full, and was of considerable value. I, however, do not consider that this place is fit for occupation by patients during the winter months. There is no provision at present existing for the nursing of cases of smallpox, should such arise. There are no houses of reception in the Burgh. Cases of infectious disease are removed to the hospital by means of a closed conveyance, which is kept solely for this purpose, and is disinfected subsequent to each time of use. This vehicle is most unsuitable in every way for the removal of patients to hospital, and, as I mentioned previously, it is high time that some form of ambulance should be provided by the Local Authority.


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