Times Past 20.03.09


The Salvation Army has refuted claims that an extension to its hall will be used as emergency accommodation for “vagrants, or the homeless”.

The army has recently been granted planning permission to extend the hall in the North Road.

However, Lerwick Community Council had objected to the application as it was felt it was going to be used as a hostel for emergency accommodation. The council pointed out that a previous application had been met by vociferous objections and a petition from people living adjacent to the hall.

In a letter to The Shetland Times Major Robert Hunter, Salvation Army divisional commander for the north of Scotland, said: “This facility is not designed for the housing of vagrants, or the homeless.”

He said that there had been some misunderstanding about what had been meant by “emergency accommodation”. Major Hunter said that the accommodation will be used in cases where a member of a family might need overnight accommodation while a domestic difficulty was sorted out by Salvation Army officers, or in other emergencies which only require a short-term overnight stay.

“There is no suggestion whatsoever that long-term residential accommodation at Lerwick as far as the Salvation Army is concerned for this aspect is more than adequately covered by the council’s own social services.”


An action by Major M. Buthlay, of Bieldside, Aberdeenshire, arising from a curtailed holiday cruise to Orkney and Shetland last spring, has been dismissed by Sheriff Aikman Smith at Aberdeen.

In his judgment, the Sheriff said an allegation by the major that there was hardly a road fit for motor traffic in Shetland was not only “quite unwarranted” and “slightly absurd”, but made him think the major was inclined to exaggerate.

Major Buthlay sued the North Company for £35 11/4, with interest and expenses, the sum representing advance payment for hotel accommodation he did not use, freight charges, shore dues, and car handling charges.

He claimed that after completing the Shetland stage of the cruise, he and his wife had to cancel their proposed stay at the Standing Stones Hotel, Orkney, because of illness.

Concerning the car charges, Major Buthlay claimed the company had told him it would be worthwhile taking his car, but on arrival he had found there was hardly a road fit for traffic.

Sheriff Aikman Smith said that the evidence as a whole suggested disappointment with the weather was largely the reason for the decision to curtail the holiday. The Sheriff found Major Buthlay liable for expenses in the case.

The chairman of the Shetland Tourist Association, Mr A. I. Tulloch, stated that his association had been considering how best to refute the allegation that Shetland had “hardly a road fit for traffic”.

Said Mr Tulloch: “Never before have we had a complaint about our roads. In fact, many visitors express surprise that our roads are so good while, just a few weeks ago, a well-known travel writer commented on the fact that there was not a single by-way that could not be used in safety and comfort.”


Current Topics column – So, my old friend, Mr Robert Robertson, of Westerscord, [Delting, born 1829], is dead. I cannot but say I was surprised when I opened my paper last week, and found an account of his life in it. I thought he was dead some time ago. It is some five or six years since I last saw him. At that time he struck me as being little more than a wreck, both mentally and physically. His mind has certainly lost its alertness, and there was an entire absence of that elasticity which characterized him in former years. Besides, he was suffering from a serious internal complaint which cuts down men in a short time, even when they have a shorter number of years behind them than did my friend. When we parted, I expressed the hope that I would see him again. As we shook hands, he said, “Maybe we will; but if we are to meet again, it’ll hae to be soon; or it’ll no’ be in this world.”

It does not seem very long since Robert and I first met, yet it is almost thirty years ago. And our meeting was most unexpected. It was in the month of June, and I was spending a short but well-earned holiday in the country. The day had been exceptionally fine, with bright sunshine and scarcely a breath of wind. In the early evening fog came down, and I decided to go trout-fishing. I am not going to commit myself as to the burn I was going to fish in, and I certainly will not describe my outfit and tackle, lest the followers of the “gentle Isaac” should vote me an outcast. However, the night was fine, and I was enjoying myself, there being plenty of trout. I had landed almost a dozen, when there came up to me he who was to prove my friend in later years. His rugged face was all aglow, for he had been travelling. He had on neither boots nor socks. His hat was on the back of his head, exposing his fine high forehead, and giving a dignified look to his otherwise grave face with its deep-set grey eyes. We had a long talk that evening, and when he left me I had promised to call on him soon.

We had many meetings after that night. I have several times spent a night in Lerwick with him; but more frequently it was in the country we met. He was altogether an extraordinary man. He had, in his early youth, taken the place of his schoolmaster, the late Mr John Anderson of Moorfield, and carried on the school for almost a year with credit and success. At that time he was a great reader. I never discovered if he had any great favourites in literature, but I judged if he had any leanings, it was to Macaulay. He was as sure of Macaulay, as Macaulay was of everything under heaven. He was orthodox and old-fashioned in his theological beliefs, was a great reader of the Bible, and knew both the Shorter and the Longer Catechism by heart.


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