Times Past 01.05.09

25 Years Ago

A Chinook helicopter with 47 people on board ditched at sea about six miles from the platform on Wednesday afternoon.

Fortunately the sea was calm and visibility fine when the Chinook, en route from BP’s Magnus oilfield to Aberdeen, suffered a hydraulic failure and made a controlled landing in the sea at 1.50pm.

Helicopters from the oilfields and supply boats went to helicopter’s aid, the Sumburgh search and rescue helicopter was scrambled, as well as a Nimrod aircraft from Lossiemouth which also went to the stricken helicopter.

The pilot kept the Chinook’s twin rotors running to get closer to the Cormorant platform and to provide buoyancy, but this created problems for the passengers trying to get into the life rafts, and all but 14 people had to take to the water after the engines shut down and the helicopter over-turned.

They were in the water for up to 20 minutes before being winched by helicopters on to the supply vessels Typhoon and Stirling Cormorant and a nearby accommodation rig.

Nine people, including the crew, were taken by helicopter from the rig to Sumburgh and then on to Aberdeen, while the two supply vessels took the other 35 passengers to Lerwick. Arriving at BP’s Holmsgarth base about 11pm, they were immediately given new clothes and boots before being taken to the Lerwick Hotel. Then men were flown to Aberdeen from Sumburgh yesterday.

As the 44 passengers and crew of the three from the Chinook recover from their ordeal some of the passengers have criticised the standard of safety equipment.

One of the passengers said it was very lucky that the sea had been calm or there would have been a lot of casualties. When the aircraft ditched the passengers and crew had to get out of the aircraft after 20 minutes as it began to take in water. But after only seven people had got into the first life raft the line snapped and the raft was pushed away from the chopper by the downdraft of the rotor blades.

The other life raft was launched but the line on it snapped too with only seven on board. The rafts are designed to hold 22.

The rest of the passengers and lastly the three crew had to jump into the water before the Chinook turned over when the rotors had been switched off. There were a number of complaints that the survival suits let in water and the zips were broken.

But the men were full of praise for the crew and particularly stewardess Mrs Brenda Old, who they said had acted very calmly during the ordeal and even found time to read a magazine as the chopper went down. One of the men said she had refused to get into the life raft before the passengers “even though there were tears running down her face and she was obviously as scared as us” claiming it was her job to wait until the passengers were out.

50 Years Ago

The Garrison Theatre was twice filled to capacity on Wednesday night, when the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society presented Lerwick’s first ever professional mannequin parade.

That meant something like 750 ladies saw the fashions presented by five models, and there is no doubt that the show was a complete success – although not all the spectators were agreed on what were the highlights. Yesterday the show was a big talking-point amongst the local ladies.

Mr Clement Thomson, SCWS executive officer, introduced Mr Stephen Green, fashion display manager, to the audiences. Mr Green acted as compere during the show, introducing the models, describing the clothes – and intimating the prices, which were all in the “reasonable” category. A lot of the articles displayed had been picked out from the local shop stock that afternoon, but in other cases a preview was being given; but the ladies were assured that these models would be available locally within the next few weeks.

In 1¼ hours no fewer than 83 different outfits were shown. The majority were cotton frocks for summer wear, but there were also suits, coats, sports clothes, play suits and raincoats modeled. Among the five models were one teenager and one matron. A four year old local girl, Helen Smith, charmed the audiences when she displayed clothes for the tiny tots.

Although the audiences were exclusively female, a male member of the display staff showed a blazer and flannels, a sports suit and a raincoat.

The show ended with a bridal party, including the bride’s mother, the attendant, and guests. Then Mr Green created a bride’s dress on the stage in a few seconds, using two lengths of lace and eighteen pins!

The Garrison stage was attractively decorated with spring flowers, and to give the best possible view to the large number of people a portable ramp was built out into the audience.

100 Years Ago

A very pleasing ceremony took place, in connection with the erection of the Isbister Public Hall, Whalsay, on Saturday.

The occasion was the laying of the corner stone by Mr Thomas Henderson, Whalsay. Mr White, Brough, presided, and briefly introduced Mr Henderson, who thereafter engaged in prayer, dedicating the building unto God and top His people. He afterwards addressed the company in an interesting and impressive manner and expressed his best wishes for the prosperity of the Hall, and its many promoters and friends.

At the close of his speech Mr Gifford Gray, contracted, handed to Mr Henderson the trowel and material with which to lay the corner stone. This was well done and was watched with interest by all.

Mr Laurence Arthur gave a short and most inspiring address, expressing his pleasure at the success of the undertaking and also thanking all contributors for their kindly and substantial help. Great gratitude is felt for the handsome help so generously given by Dr Carnegie, who has shown his practical sympathy with the strong desire of the people to advance them educationally. A sum of about fifteen pounds is now all that is required to complete the necessary cost.

The weather was splendid, and added greatly to the enjoyment of the day’s proceedings.

The building is intended to contain a hall, library and kitchen. The cost is expected to be about £350.

It is Mr Gray’s intention as far as possible to employ local men on the job.


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