It has taken five years and tonnes of carefully chosen stone, but on Wednesday the reconstruction of the dyke at the Knab was finished.
With council convenor Sandy Cluness ill, the job of putting the final coping stone in place was left to vice-convener Josie Simpson, who paid tribute his former colleague the late Cecil Eunson, who had supported the reconstruction project and whose backing meant it went ahead.
Mr Simpson said: “When Cecil started something he never gave in so I think we should appreciate the work that he did on this. It’s fantastic to see the quality of work achieved and to demonstrate we can do this type of work in Shetland.
“I’m pleased to be here today and I think we should congratulate everybody who has been involved along the way.”
The two phases of the £423,000 reconstruction of the century-old dyke included re-aligning and relaying the footpath, as well as rebuilding all 600 metres of the dyke.
This began in 2005, however after a major rock fall the following year, a cliff stability survey had to be carried out resulting in changes to the proposed route of the footpath and dyke.
The final phase, which included reconstructing the wall with stone reclaimed from the existing wall and traditional lime mortar pointing, was undertaken by Shetland Amenity Trust staff.
Project foreman Bruce Clubb said the project hod gone very well: “It’s been absolutely excellent – we’ve had two good summers. If it hadn’t been so good it would have been a different story.”
He explained that all of the estimated 5,000 coping stones used to top the dyke, which were taken from a Bressay quarry for their colour, had to be cut by machine to a template then hand finished. “It made for a long winter,” he said.
Construction project manager with the Shetland Amenity Trust John Mackenzie said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this landmark project. This new wall should be here for at least another 100 years and provide a safe boundary for all who use and enjoy The Knab.”
The project was managed by the council’s sport and leisure service. Manager Neil Watt also paid tribute to the late Mr Eunson, as well as all those who have been involved in the project.
“This project has been on the go for nearly five years and like every project it started in the imagination of somebody. The guy in the council chamber who really championed this project was the late Cecil Eunson, who was member for the Breiwick area, so I thought at this time it was worth mentioning all the hard work and time and effort that he put in, in the council chamber, to get this project started.
“He was the kind of guy that met with [SIC leisure facilities officer] Magnus [Malcolmson] on a regular basis to look at plans and work out strategy of how he was going to get the funding to make the project happen, so I’m sure he’ll be looking down and will be really pleased by how this project has ended up.
“We’re very thankful that the Shetland Amenity Trust won the contract to do the actual dyke construction. I think from our point of view it’s been an excellent relationship, the workmanship is of the highest standard, the communication has been excellent and the staff working on it have been great to work with.
“Would like to thank the amenity trust and in particular all the boys that worked on the job, we know this is hard work but it’s certainly appreciated and you can see that from the standard of it.”
He also thanked the SIC’s roads staff, contract manager George Leask, Magnus Malcolmson and John Mackenzie, Jimmy Moncrieff and Brian Gregson from the Amenity Trust.