Times Past 16.10.09

25 Years Ago

The formation of a trust to support the arts in Shetland came a step nearer last week. Six trustees have been nominated to get the Shetland Arts Trust into operation.

Last Tuesday’s meeting of the SIC’s leisure and recreation committee approved five nominations suggested by Mr John Nicolson, director of leisure and recreation. The committee added a sixth name to give the trust a balance of three councillors and three non-elected members.

Those suggested are Mrs Chrissie Manson of Urafirth, Mrs Meg Smith of Lerwick, Mrs Rosemary Inkster of Sandwick and councillors Dr Mortimer Manson, Mr John Graham and Dr Albert Hunter.

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The possibility of wind generated power for Shetland consumers came a small step closer last Monday when the SIC’s development committee recommended the North of Scotland Hydro Board to be leased ground at Voe to erect masts to measure wind conditions.

If the tests are successful the board intends on erecting three or more three megawatt aerogenerators and an electricity substation. The committee agreed in principle to sell 44.5 acres of ground in the area to the board if the project goes ahead.

The council will monitor the masts’ effects on TV and radio reception, but it was agreed that the board had a good record of ensuring there was no interference.

50 Years Ago

The Old Rock – Nationally and locally the election results confounded all forecasts. It was, of course, freely predicted that the Tories again would form the government and that Mr Grimond would continue to represent Orkney and Shetland. But those who ventured beyond this were in deep water.

In Shetland the result silenced forever the Tory and Socialist sneers that the Liberals are only supported by aged crofters and pensioners. In the wider sphere it silenced the plaintive Tory cry that liberals would “let the Socialists in” for, this time it was Labour voters who swelled the Liberal ranks. There were many constituencies where Tories increased their majorities against an increased Liberal vote – even against first time Liberal intervention.

Mr Grimond’s call for a new radical party went forth before polling day. Now, with 1,600,000 supporters, he leads a true radical movement in this country. As he has pointed out, no one – not even the Tories – expects Tory Government to last forever. Socialists who no longer believe in socialism are unlikely candidates for power in the future. It is Nationalism they now seek to abandon. Baby is about to be thrown out with the bath water!

The people of Orkney and Shetland have every reason to be proud of their political record. Their unwavering loyalty to Liberalism is now rewarded not only by splendid personal representation at Westminster, but by the distinction of having given the nation a leader and statesman.

100 Years Ago

Earthquake in Unst – The island of Unst was visited by an earthquake of no ordinary kind very early in the morning of October 2. As the disturbance took place at 2.10 am, most of the inhabitants of the island were in their beds at the time, probably under the influence of the god of sleep, and for this reason very few appeared to be really aware of the fact.

Even among these who heard the unusual noise, there is some inconsistency in detail; for some say that they were aroused by two peals of thunder, but affirm that they saw no lightning.

Mr Barclay, police constable, Uyeasound, states that some time in the morning of the 2nd October he was aroused by a peculiar noise, during which he felt a shaking sensation all over his body as if he were the victim of palsy. To him the noise resembled that of a heavy cart being drawn quickly on a rough road.

In the mansion house of Maundeville, the residence of Mr John P. Sandison, J.P., the earthquake was felt by most of the inmates.

Mr Hamilton Sandison, on hearing the rumbling noise, instantly got up out of bed; for he imagined that it was a destructive cyclone, and therefore betook himself to look after the safety of his boats, which he imagined would be swamped by the force of such a cyclone. Mr Sandison looked at his watch as soon as he heard the terrifying noise, and states that according to the time the earthquake occurred at 2.10 am.

There were two shocks of earthquake, the first lasted for about 38 seconds and the second 24 seconds, and there were scarcely four seconds between the shocks.

My own narrative is that I was not sleeping at the time, but I was suddenly startled by a peculiar noise which grew louder and which really appeared to be a multitude of heavy loaded carts drawn by strong horses at full gallop. Then concerning the time which the shocks lasted and space between them, we all agree as above stated.

Whether these shocks were felt over the whole island is as yet unknown. The earthquakes to which Unst is subject, seem in a way the most remarkable of all seismic disturbances. An earthquake which occurs in Unst (strange to say) occurs nowhere else, not even in any of the other parts of Shetland.

It will be remembered that the Unst earthquake of 1866 shook the lighthouse of Muckle Flugga, where traces of it can be seen to this day, and that at the same time the mansion house of Clivocast was severely shaken. It may be mentioned that in the current “Zadkiel’s Almanac” an earthquake is predicted in the North of Scotland in the vicinity of the Shetland Islands.


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