Times Past 15.05.09

25 Years Ago

Local milk producers supplying the Freefield Dairy are confident they will weather the effects of the new EEC milk quota better than other milk producers in Scotland with production pegged at lat year’s level instead of cuts of 5.8 per cent and nine per cent on last year as elsewhere.

President of the local branch of the National Farmers Union, Mr Brian Anderson, said this week he is “confident we will be pegged at the 1983 level” but there had been no official word from the Department of Agriculture: an official announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

Even if the producers get off with 1983 levels it will only be a partial victory. They have put forward a strong case, backed by the SIC, NFU and MP Jim Wallace, to be allowed to organise their quota system.

Mr Anderson feels, however, that the department will tell them that they will have to abide by the EEC rulings.

Mr Anderson said the producers organised their own quota as it is. “It would be stupid of us to increase the number of cows if we couldn’t sell the milk.” He added that the industry could work on the 1983 quota at present but if they found new markets the quota would stop them increasing production.

The producers are hopeful that with more activity in the northern North Sea and the possibility of more rigs being serviced from Lerwick they may be able to sell more milk to the oil industry.

50 Years Ago

Last Thursday was Fair Isle’s big day. And the isle never looked fairer than at nine o’clock that morning when isles folk walked down to their fine new pier to greet the 167 tourists from the cruise ship Meteor which already lay at anchor off the entrance to North Haven, her white hull and upper works sparkling in sunshine as she lay in blue water against the background of blue sky. Soon afterwards the familiar outline of the little Earl of Zetland was added to the scene as she steamed between the bigger ship and the shore, adding her quota to the record number who “invaded” the isle.

On the pierhead there were greetings and introductions as isles men in Sunday-best lent helping hands to the tweedy members of the aristocracy, the heavy-booted bird watchers and the so-obviously American tourists in the ship’s boats.

And just behind the Bird Observatory at North Haven, the “rarest bird in Europe” – an American song sparrow – obligingly hopped about at the edge of the banks, readily performing before a battery of cameras and even allowing his song to be recorded for the B.B.C.

By the time the county councillors and other visitors from Lerwick had landed from the Earl, the cruise passengers on the National Trust for Scotland’s island cruise were happily engaged in bird-watching, hill-climbing and in buying knitwear and tweeds. But few missed what was, for the islanders at least, the main feature of the day – the opening of the pier.

Mr George Stout, skipper of the island mailboat Good Shepherd declared the pier open. He cut the ribbon across the new structure after the Rev. R. McConnel had read from the 121st Psalm and offered prayer. “I have much pleasure in declaring the pier open. May it stand till the last trumpet sounds”, said Mr Stout.

Mr James Stout, Midway, welcomed the visitors on behalf of the islanders. He went on to convey their thanks to the people who made the pier possible – the Department of Agriculture, whose help to the island went back over forty years, and the County Council and the National Trust for Scotland. But those who had spent money on the pier were not able to put a true value on it as could the islanders, who had struggled without a pier all those years.

100 Years Ago

Sir Robert Stout, KCMG, Chief Justice of New Zealand, is now, says the Daily News, in London, after an absence from this country of forty-six years. He is a typical Norseman, stalwart and bronzed, with a genial presence and large heart. He left his boyhood’s home in the Shetland Isles as a young man of 18, and prior to his appointment as Chief Justice had served successively as a member of parliament, attorney general, Minister of Lands, Emigration, Education, and was Premier from 1884 to 1887.

Interviewed by a representative of the Daily News, Sir Robert said – “I was the first member to introduce a local option measure for dealing with liquor licenses in our General Assembly. I did this so far back as 1875, but failed. Eighteen years later Mr Seddon’s government introduced and carried a less advanced measure, but before this Bill was dealt with, female suffrage had been carried.”

“Was that in consequence of the women’s vote”

“Yes, after carrying female suffrage in 1893, the government were, I believe, afraid to go to the country until they had carried a measure which they knew would rally the women. Local option and female suffrage were granted almost simultaneously.”

“What about Colonial Preference” asked the representative?

“New Zealand,” replied Sir Robert, “has never asked for it. We have already given preference to England, and the only preference you could give us would be on wool and meat, for we export very little grain. I do not know how dear wool would affect your tweed or worsted manufacturers or your price of meat. These are points for you, not for us.”


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