Views from the Scord 22.05.09

History newsletter

Burra History Group has produced the first of what are intended to be an occasional series of newsletters with information on their recent activities and plans for the summer.

From 7th June until 30th August, the Burra History Centre at Easthouse, Duncansclate will be open on Sunday afternoons from 2pm until 6pm. During that period, visitors to the croft house can see a selection of the exhibits that made the group’s March exhibition of Craft Through the Ages so successful. There will also be photographs of the original exhibition on show.

Anyone wishing to visit out with those hours should ring (01595) 859623 or (01595) 859276. The history centre is also available for hire and, to date, quite a variety of different groups has made use of its facilities. The newsletter contains booking details and is available at Halcrow’s shop in Hamnavoe, the Scalloway Museum, the Scalloway Post Office, the Scalloway Health Centre, the Shetland Museum, Shetland Amenity Trust, RW Bayes and the Lerwick Tourist Centre.

Harbour movements

The week up to Friday marked the start of an upturn in oil-related shipping movements for Scalloway Harbour, with a number of vessels expected this week.

The first arrival was the 2,820grt, Lowestoft-registered survey vessel Ocean Observer which called in for shelter and to make repairs on Saturday. She was followed the same day by the 255grt chase-boat Marja, which came in to collect a crewman. The Marja is accompanying another survey vessel to the west of Shetland.

Perhaps the most enigmatic visitor for a long while was the Bergen registered workboat FOB Jr, which arrived at the beginning of last week. The particularly distinctive vessel is registered to weigh in at only 25grt and 14.99m in length, though her length and weight are deceptive as a further three metres of deck has been bolted on to her stern. She can ballast herself for heavy lifting operations with 230 tonnes of water in trim tanks and her deck, above twin hulls, is almost square at 10.7 metres of beam.

Her most distinctive feature has to be her flat, vertical bow, rising straight up to the forward superstructure and wheelhouse windows. This unusual configuration allows the vessel exceptional load bearing capabilities which befit the mighty crane she carries which has the seemingly disproportionate lift capability of 37 tonnes close in and over 10 tonnes at 16 metre extension.

She was known to have been engaged in off shore wind turbine maintenance in Norway though her crew has been notably tight-lipped about her presence in local waters. Her deck has some fairly serious seabed lifting, or salvage, equipment and ROV craft on display.

Fishing activity was fairly consistent through the week, with the Fertile landing each day and other reasonable landings coming from the Alison Kay, Atlantia, Valhalla, Venture and Venturous which had the largest single landing of the week at 266 boxes. The combined total landings were 932 boxes.

Firefighter honoured

Watch manager Michael Goodlad was honoured by the fire service and his fellow fire fighters on Saturday as he retired after 37 years of loyal and devoted service.

As a measure of the recognition Michael’s status, input and influence within the fire brigade the farewell meal organised by the Scalloway fire crew in the Scalloway Hotel was attended by the Highlands and Islands chief fire officer Brian Murray, as well as local group manager Duncan Macdougall, Lerwick station manager Mark Loynd and SIC representatives on the regional fire board Allison Duncan and Alistair Couper.

Michael received the Silver Axe emblem, presented to firefighters leaving the service after 25 years or more, from Mr Murray and it was asserted that his length of service set him within a very elite few in the region.

The series of speeches on the evening spoke in praise of Michael’s “great help, commitment and hard work” with Mr Murray describing his “exceptional achievement” and saying that “the Highlands and Island Fire Brigade is a better place for having had Michael as a member”.

He also spoke in recognition of the fact that in recent years it was due to Michael that the Scalloway crew had “gone out of their way to look after the unit”.

Michael joined the service in 1972 when fire cover for the area was a very much more humble affair. The station at that time was little more than a locker next to the Scalloway Motors garage, with a standpipe, key and hose and the fire engine on any given “shout” would be the most suitable vehicle available from the garage, where many of the fire crew, including Michael, worked.

The first fire engine to be provided to Scalloway came around 1983 in the form of a two-seater van which, although inadequate by the standards of today, was a huge leap forward for the crew of the time as it featured various items of equipment, including for the first time a petrol engined water pump and ladders.

It was during this era that the attitude of self-determinism and improvement, which Michael has imbued to the current crew, was formed as the crew of the time equipped themselves with items above the minimum level that was provided for them by the brigade.

Over the years that followed a rooftop fire siren for the garage, which drew men to the fire station, was acquired as a defective unit from the Lerwick station, to be repaired and installed by the Scalloway crew. A radio for the van was paid for through a coffee morning, a pager system was bought and proper waterproofs were acquired from another unit to replace oilskins.

Through constant fund raising they went on to supply their own radio handsets, and even got community support and funding to build the current fire station and its later extension. The crew even acquired a set of fire service approved cutting gear to allow them to be trained to deal with road accidents.

As Michael says: “We had to fight for everything we got. We fought for the best for Scalloway.”

In recent years when Michael, as senior officer, has been at the forefront of this effort, it was said to be this persistent dedication to improvement that pushed Scalloway to the top of the list for a new station. The development of the station was announced at his retirement and work is expected to begin in April 2010.

Michael’s promotion to watch manager began in 1992 when he became a leading firefighter. In 1993 he was awarded for his long service and then in 1997 became the station sub-officer before the new brigade management system led to his appointment as watch manager in 2006.

Mr Murray has known Michael for 10 years through the fire and rescue service and as he says: “I’ve got to know him and seen the improvement of the Scalloway unit.

High on the agenda for us a now is the new fire station and it is Michael’s investigations that have provided a suitable site in the vicinity.

“At the last fire board meeting it was agreed that Scalloway was top of the list for a new building. We still have to secure the capital funding but in previous years we have been successful and we will be again and the Scalloway unit will get the fire station they deserve.”

He further reaffirms the point that Michael’s legacy to the fire and rescue service is in leaving behind a unit that is keen, dedicated and highly motivated.

Michaels reflected on his time in the service by saying: “I’ve really enjoyed it, the whole time I’ve been in it. I will miss it because it’s been such a part of my life.”

The Scalloway unit is now served by retained firefighters, after being upgraded and receiving a new fire engine in 2002. In charge of the Scalloway unit now are Andrew Hunter and Eddie Leslie.

Norwegian visitors

The Norwegian Flag Day was commemorated at the Shetland Bus Memorial on Sunday afternoon by a crowd of over 90 people, including a visiting delegation of 12 Norwegians from the Sund Kommune and the crews of two visiting Norwegian yachts.

Mark Burgess


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