Isles Views 12.06.09

New head at Cullivoe

Claire Lawson has been appointed head teacher at the Cullivoe Primary School.

Mrs Lawson, herself the mother of seven, lives about half a mile away and she has been associated with the school for some considerable time. She was born in Leith and before coming to Shetland was a teacher in Musselburgh.

Last year, when the school was in the vanguard of the production of the musical The Sound of Music, she was the director and was regarded as a key figure in the success of the show.

Mrs Lawson actually succeeds her husband Mark in the job. The Lawsons came to Yell when Mr Lawson was appointed head of the Cullivoe school six years ago. When he was appointed head teacher of Mid Yell Junior High School he continued as head at Cullivoe.

The shared headship proved to be highly controversial and, due in no small measure to pressure from the parents and public outwith north Yell, it was decided that each of the schools should have its own head, hence this recent appointment.

Unrelated to the appointment of Mrs Lawson, there will be other changes. Leaving the school is Katherine Jamieson who lives in Sandness. Her contract finishes in July.

The school will be sorry to lose Mrs Jamieson. She is popular with pupils and parents and was also predominant in The Sound of Music, where she starred as Maria.

Mrs Lawson said she was looking forward, very much, to starting her new job after the summer holidays.

The Cullivoe School is a small rural school that has lived under the threat of closure for over 40 years but is currently enjoying a period of relative security. The school has a roll that is on the increase and will, next term, be a two-teacher school.

It will also cross the threshold of 20 pupils, 20 being the number emerging from the much-criticised Blueprint for Education, published last year, as being minimum size of school to be retained.

Lund is no more

The House of Lund was a very well-known ruin in the Westing of Unst. In its day it was a grand haa house, the home of the man who built it, Scott of Greenwell, in the early years of the 18th century.

Like Windhouse in Yell it had a reputation for being haunted and no-one has lived in it for a very long time. Its roof was taken off in 1947 and materials from it were sold off by auction.

More recently the structure became unsafe and visitors were advised not to venture inside because there was a danger of masonry falling down from the tops of the walls.

It seems that, in the past, some colourful characters lived in Lund.

One laird was unhappy, angry even, because folk attending the nearby kirk would leave their horses grazing on his land. In those days kirk services went on for a long time and the laird thought of a novel way of putting paid to this practice.

He took a young man (we are not told if the youngster volunteered), tarred him and covered him with feathers, fixed a tail on him and sent him into the kirk in the middle of the minister’s sermon.

The minister and the entire congregation were convinced that they had had a visit from the devil. So terrified was the minister that he never preached in that kirk again. Lund seems to have had a special relationship with the “wicked one” because a hoof print exists on a flagstone near the door.

To secure the old house and make it safe was never an option so demolition is what has happened. Tulloch Developments, who did such a great job in Uyeasound building the new harbour, were given the task and the walls have been lowered to around waist high.

The stones from the old house have made a somewhat undignified end. They are being used as hardcore, bottoming for a new road: the Hillend bypass in Mid Yell.

Bookstart birthday

Yell and Unst bairns got together recently for a special 10th birthday celebration for Bookstart in Scotland Rhymetime in the Baltasound Hall. Teacher Catherine Gibb said a brilliant afternoon was had by all with over 30 bairns attending, Children have been receiving packs of books from Bookstart for 10 years and this has been expanded to include Bookstart Rhymetime sessions for bairns and their parents. Anyone who is interested should be on the outlook for notices in the local shops giving news of future sessions. All are welcome.

Recalling the St Vincent

Folk in North Yell are currently interested in hearing news of the former fishing boat St Vincent, a familiar sight when she fished out of Cullivoe for about 10 years from the mid-1950s until the mid-1960s.

The St Vincent was skippered by the late Andrew Willie Spence who was a legend in North Isles fishing circles. He was physically a very big man and it is said that once he sailed a fishing boat from Cullivoe to Lerwick on a pitch dark winter’s night without any navigational aids save a compass and an alarm clock.

He had a perfect understanding of the wind and tide on the night and he knew which course to steer and exactly how long he should steam in any one direction and this is where the clock came in.

His crew on the St Vincent consisted of his brother Jeemsie Bruce, George Henry and Robert Anderson from Midfield who was to make a name for himself, in his own right, as a highly skilled and successful fishing skipper with the Winsome. Charlie Tulloch also crewed on the St Vincent when he covered for illness.

In those days four small seine netters worked out of Cullivoe but the St Vincent was different from all the rest. She was slim and sleek with a Zulu stern and she was powered by a 72 horsepower Gardiner engine which seemed to be high revving and made a totally different sound from the usual slower Kelvins.

The St Vincent was built in Banff in 1910 by Stephen as a sailing drifter. She was carvel built of timber and before coming to Cullivoe she worked out of Eriskay and Wick. In her time she had several different numbers.

The first was CY405, later WK117, but in Cullivoe she was LK272. This is the same number as the present day Cullivoe boat the Guardian Angell. Although fishermen are loathe to admit to being superstitious it is considered, by some, that any number adding up to 11 is lucky. The Winsome’s number was LK704.

When she left Shetland the St Vincent went to Grimsby where she was owned by Sydney Carlton and worked as a trawler. After that she was in Lowestoft, owned by Brian Tubby and fished until the late 1980s.

When her fishing days were over she was converted to being a pleasure craft and renamed the Nautilus and was to be found in North Shields. Her present owner took her to Arbroath where she is being refitted. The intention is to re-rig her with two masts and two lugsails.

Simmer dim competition

The annual Simmer Dim trout fishing competition in Unst will be held overnight on Saturday 20th June. This is a charity event and this year all the proceeds will go to the Teenage Cancer Appeal.

While the main aim is to raise money for the charity, the organisers also want to promote and highlight the excellent trout fishing opportunities in Unst. They want to attract as many anglers as possible from all over Shetland and there are some coming from Scotland. Author Bruce Sandison, along with his wife Anne, is coming home to his roots to open the event and raise the profile of this unique event.

Registration and the draw for partners will take place at 7pm at Saxa Vord and the weigh-in will also be at Saxa Vord on Sunday morning at 8am prompt. Breakfast will be provided.

Keen angler Davie McMillan poses the question: “Where else on the planet can you fish, in the Simmer Dim, for wild brown and sea trout of the size and quality of the ones caught in Unst recently?”

The entry fee is £10 and to enter or find out more contact Davie on (01957) 711554 or mobile 07919 391237 or Steve Palmer on (01957) 711212 or mobile 07799 857593.

Pentecostal service

A Pentecostal service was held in the Fetlar church with folk from Yell and Unst attending.

Janet Kelly says that it was a successful and joyous occasion and the congregation raised £282 for the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal.

Lawrence Tulloch


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