Times Past 29.05.09

25 Years Ago

Shetland’s links with Scandinavia were strengthened on Monday evening when the Smyril Line’s ship Norrona made her first trip to Lerwick. The ship will run between Faroe, Shet­land, Norway, Iceland and Denmark during the summer.

The Norrona’s schedule is tight – her longest stop at any port is Torshavn were she stays for four hours. The rest of the week is spent plying across the North Sea and North Atlantic.

To fit Shetland into this tight schedule means she arrives and departs at very unsocial hours, stopping for only one hour, around midnight on Mondays and Tuesdays.

A party of Shetlanders – councillors and officials, shipping representatives and members of the tourist industry – were invited to join the 24 hour inaugural run to Bergen and back. They were welcomed on board by managing director of Smyril Line Mr Ole Hammer and Mr Sofus Polson, the Faroese attaché in Aberdeen.

Mr Hammer said that it was the British harbour authorities and Lerwick Harbour Trust who made it possible to include Shetland in the Norrona’s schedule. The whole project would not have been possible without the help of P&O, Smyril Line’s agents in Britain and the tourist office in Lerwick, he said.

Mr Polson emphasised that the service was Britain’s only Scandinavian car ferry link north of the Tyne. He was looking forward to a great effort being made by all those concerned with the link in Shetland to make sure it was worthwhile.

Mr Edward Thomason, on behalf of the SIC, said it was good to have the Smyril Line coming to Shetland. This was a test year, he said, but thought that there was a lot of support in Shetland which would make the venture a success.

The boat arrived in Bergen at midday on Tuesday. Since the stay was a short one, only two hours, most of the passengers on the round-trip contented themselves with a visit to the fish-market, but one or two of the more enterprising took a trip in the funicular railway to the top of Floyen, where there is a spectacular view of Bergen and the fjords.

The future of the Noronna’s link with Shetland depends on the tourist industry, and the Shetland Tourist Organisation, in conjunction with Smyril and Air UK, invited a group of Norwegian journalists back on the trip from Bergen to Lerwick. Next week a journalist from Iceland Radio will be here and a Finnish journalist is preparing a travel feature on Shetland.

Tourist Officer Mr Maurice Mullay described Norrona’s visit as an historic moment for Shetland, providing links with Scandinavia. It is Shetland’s only international ferry service and he stressed that everything possible should be done to secure its future operation in Shetland.

50 Years Ago

The shortage of dentists in Shetland is still causing Shetland Health Executive Council considerable concern, but they are doing everything they can to induce someone to set up his plate in Lerwick.

At a recent meeting of their Finance and General Purposes Committee there was read a letter from the Lerwick agents for the Polish fishing fleet; stating that some of the fishermen required emergency dental treatment; but, as was to be expected, the only available dental practitioner could not promise early attention, and enquiring whether anything could be done to improve this unfortunate situation.

It was decided to inform the agents that the Council are only too well aware of the inadequacy of the present dental services, and that efforts to improve matters have been unsuccessful, largely because of the national shortage of dentists and the obvious attractions of practising in the cities and towns further south.

Arising from this discussion it was felt that had there been a house available the proposition might have been much more attractive to those who enquired as a result of the Council’s advertisement, and it was decided to re-advertise, at the same time asking Town and County Councils whether they could see their way to make a house available for the use of a dentist.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the Executive Council it was reported the Town Council had agreed to earmark a municipal house for a dentist, but that there had been no reply from the County Council.

At another meeting of the same sub-committee there was submitted a report on local dental services, prepared by the Local Medical Committee, in consultation with Mr P. B. Laurenson and the school dental officer. It had been prepared at the request of the Scottish Association of Executive Councils to assist the British Dental Association in their investigations into the means of improving the services.

The report gave all the necessary statistical information about population, etc., and noted that of the 12,000 people outside Lerwick about one-third had to cross some sea in order to visit the town, and probably had to stay one or two nights away from home.

The most accessible large centre of population where dental treatment might be obtained was in Aberdeen — about 200 miles away by sea.

The report noted that mention had been made of the scarcity of dentists in England, where Sunderland had the poor ratio of one dentist for every 10,540 persons. Shetland, and possibly other parts of Scotland, could show a worse ratio than that.

The regulations which permitted executive councils to pay the travelling expenses of dentists visiting outlying areas were of some use at a time when there were more dentists in Shetland.

Such schemes might help to spread the services available more evenly over the county, but as long as dentists were scarce they did not result in any more people being treated. In fact the total number treated would be rather fewer if the dentists available spent valuable time in travelling.

100 Years Ago

The Ladies’ Public Waiting Room which has recently been erected by the Lerwick Harbour Trustees near the Harbour office on the Esplanade, was opened on Tuesday this week, and it is intended to supply a long-felt want on the part of women going by or arriving from the steamers or coming from Bressay or other parts of the country to do their shopping in town. The room, which is bright and well-ventilated, has a fireplace, is fitted with seats for a number of persons, a wash-hand basin with towels, etc., and also the usual sanitary appliances. There is a woman in attendance. No charge is to be made for the use of the room, which will be open from eight o’clock in the morning till nine in the evening, and later on Saturdays during the fishing season.

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On Sunday, 16th instant, a ewe on the island of Linga dropped a peculiar lamb. There were two lambs joined together from the fore-shoulders, and while both bodies were perfectly formed, there was only one head. The strange freak, although apparently matured, was dead when lambed.


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