Views from the Scord 08.05.09

New museum

The plans to provide Scalloway with a new museum moved another major step forward this week with the news of the approval of £200,000 in funding toward the project by the SIC development committee.

The funding, which will come from the council’s economic development unit, and makes the current total almost £700,000 raised so far by SBFS Properties Ltd and signifies an important way point in the funding process.

The combined funds now available mean that the property company, an off-shoot of the Shetland Bus Friendship Society, is now in a position to invite tenders for the contract to convert the former knitwear factory to a venue suitable for housing the museum.

The conversion will transform the vacant premises into an energy efficient, standards-compliant building with a complete exterior renovation and disabled access provided. The southern wall of the building will be completely replaced by a glass frontage and main entrance facing Scalloway Castle.

This latest funding is added to the £100,000 from the SIC education and social care department, granted by the services committee at the end of last year, and the recently-announced £392,314 promised by the Scotland Rural Development Programme. Subject to some final procedural checks, the group is awaiting contracts for this sum at the current time.

The project volunteers may now proceed with some confidence but it still leaves the group behind the museum project with a long paper trail of fund-raising ahead, with nearly £300,000 still required to fund the creation of designs and high-quality displays for the interior of the museum and to engage a temporary project manager. This funding will be largely sought from UK national funding sources for projects of this type, outwith Shetland.

SBFS chairman Jack Burgess said: “I am delighted that the development committee has awarded this generous latest grant to the new museum. This sum, together with the money already raised will make it possible to start work soon on the museum.

“Then, at last, Scalloway’s fascinating history can be told in a spacious new appropriate building. The society is most grateful to the council and the SRDP for their support and encouragement.”

The story of the Scalloway museums, existing and future, is entirely dependent on the staunch efforts of volunteers and community spirit since the current museum was created in the Bona Vista building on Main Street in 1985, in time for the Hamefarin event of that year.

The museum collection originated from a collection of old objects and artefacts belonging to the late Davy Umphray, which he had collected in a garden shed during his life. These objects were gifted to the community by his family on condition that they are properly housed in Scalloway and this formed the basis of the existing collection.

Over the years the collection has grown considerably and the building has declined into a condition that now poses a risk to much of the collection.

As far back as 2003 curator Robbie Johnson started to try and find a new building to house the collection. This cause was taken up by SBFS, which formed a property company for the purpose and the empty knitwear factory, owned by SLAP, was identified as a suitable venue.

The proposed exhibition plans for the new museum incorporate five distinct themed displays, featuring: an introduction to Scalloway; an account of the industrial history of the village; the history of Scalloway at time of war which will put particular focus on the famed Shetland Bus operations; Scalloway as the ancient capital; and the personal histories of certain famed Scalloway personalities. The themes are deliberately aimed to provide an aspect of Shetland history specific to the village, to complement existing museum exhibitions elsewhere.

Work on fund-raising continues as before and it is speculated that the tendering process for the conversion will run into the autumn, with construction to commence around that time and completion of this phase hoped to be achieved by next spring.

Canoe club award

The Bridge-End-based Shetland Canoe Club had cause for jubilation this week as receipt was confirmed of £7,883 in funding for new equipment from the National Lottery Awards for All scheme.

The money will enable the club to purchase new equipment and through that the club will be able to help more people to participate and gain training through membership.

The club aims to purchase six new sea kayaks, and the related safety equipment, for members to use for training purposes in particular and for outings. As a new feature it will also be buying two Canadian style canoes.

Changes in the requirements of the UK national graded qualifications for canoeing mean that, to achieve certain accredited standards, canoeists must now also have a level of competency in Canadian style canoes. The acquisition of these will allow this training to begin this season.

The Canadian style canoes will also allow the club to further broaden its membership as participants that may have difficulty with kayaks will be more ably included in these new craft and the club has a long track record of assisting people with special needs to get involved with this healthy outdoor pursuit. These craft and the new kayaks also allow a greater range of activities to be offered to long-term members.

Club chairwoman Julie Phillips said: “A lot of our old gear is so old and worn it needed replacing, some of our canoes are an old design which is difficult for beginners to master, especially in windy conditions. They are also uncomfortable for really tall people. More modern boats make it easier to do training drills and help beginners master more techniques. The new boats will also be more user-friendly for younger or less able people; they are also stronger, more rugged, have better handling and should last longer. The new safety equipment is important and something you can’t compromise.

“We’d like to thank the Lottery; our members are very pleased with this news. Without this support it would have taken years to afford this type of equipment.”

The club, which has existed since 1973, is currently made up of around 70 members of all ages and abilities. Training sessions for this season are already under way with 27 beginners keen to get out on the water.

The club currently offers training to a required level of competency before members can accompany more experienced kayakers on day or evening trips. There is basic training in responsible wildlife viewing and general outdoor safety. Indoor training is provided in the spring at Clickimin before outdoor training and organised trips begin in May.

For more information about the club and membership contact Julie Philips on (01595) 890364.

Trondra rowing

The Trondra rowing teams are on the lookout for new people to join their ranks. The teams met last Thursday night for the first time this season and welcomed some new participants to the fold.

It is hoped that these new participants may form the basis of an under-16 team for the yoal, to complement the existing men’s and women’s teams, though it is stressed that there is no obligation on anyone who wishes to get involved to compete in competitions.

Speaking for the group, Leslie Tait describes participation as “good exercise and good banter”.

The practice rowing nights for adult men and women currently take place on Tuesdays and Fridays and the under-16s will be going out on Monday evening.

New faces are always welcome, for any level of involvement, and more information can be sought from Leslie on (01595) 880416 or Clive on (01595) 880498.

Trondra’s main rowing event of the year takes place on 19th June, with the staging of the Round Trondra Race which starts from the Trondra bridge and provides a great spectator event as the boats power down the dramatic scenery of Clift Sound, returning to the bridge for the finish.

The Burra bridge provides an ideal midway viewing stage for spectators to cheer on the teams. This is followed by a get-together for soup and sandwiches at the Trondra Hall for all involved.

The regular rowing practice is free to the under-16s and only requires minimal voluntary donations of a pound or less from adults wishing to row regularly, making it an attractive opportunity to keep fit, or get fit, for anyone interested.

Harbour activity

The Ronja Settler was busy all week delivering salmon to the factory at Blacksness. The 474grt fish-carrier Gripfisk called in for shelter and supplies on Sunday. Repair and overhaul work on the variety of private yachts and motor vessels continue on the West Quay into this week.

At the beginning of last week the roar of heavy plant and clangs of heavy metal resounded around the harbour as a large section of the Foinaven anchor chain stored on the commercial jetty was bundled up and consigned for shipment to Aberdeen. This section of the gargantuan chain has been sold for scrap and the remainder on the pier is expected to be re-used at a later date.

Fish landings in the week up to Friday were a low average with a total of 874 boxes landed. The Comrades, Alison Kay, Atlantia, Fertile, Radiant Star and Valhalla contributed to the total with the highest single landing coming from the Alison Kay with 325 boxes.

Hamnavoe school news

Pupils from Hamnavoe Primary school have done well in recent music events with Callen Laurenson gaining a silver award for a tuba solo at the Shetland Schools Music Festival and Konrad Craigie achieving third place in the junior section of the Traditional Fiddle Competition and fifth place in the junior section of the Young Fiddler of the Year competition.

The school also held a well-attended and very much enjoyed concert on 20th April and would like to thank all who came along and supported the event.

The children enjoyed taking part in Da Voar Redd Up this year, in the particularly fine weather, and the good news from their participation was that there was less rubbish found this year, especially around the nearby beaches.

The fine spring weather has children of all classes working hard to improve their gardens and the grounds of the school. Each year group is allocated three pots to sow seeds and nurture the seedlings.

The plants are grown in the schools own homemade compost and topsoil. With activities such as this the school is working toward its fourth Eco Flag award which will earn them “permanent eco status”.

As part of this commitment the school is staging an Eco Action Day next Friday and they hope their hard work in planting will produce some beautiful results for the occasion.

The school’s P6/7 hockey team attended the recent primary hockey festival at Brae. The players did well and gave their best efforts throughout the six-game tournament with Burra players scoring goals in several matches.

Parent Council chairman Jonathan Duncan and vice-chairwoman Sharon Henderson recently attended the biannual meeting at the Islesburgh Community Centre. The event provides an opportunity for attendees to share ideas between Parent Councils.

This co-operation has generated the idea for a discussion forum to be set up for continued discussion and for the sharing of minutes. These ideas are to be pursued by quality improvement officer Maggie Spence.

Guest speakers and information on support available from various national organisations and websites are also provided through the event, along with ideas as to how to encourage greater parental involvement with the schools.

Mark Burgess


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