Isles Views

Email update

The SIC community work office and Shetland Recreational Trust have teamed up to offer folk in the North Isles a new tailored email service. Anyone can now receive the community newsletter and/or updates from the local leisure centre via email.

This will help the staff in those offices and their impact on the environment while making it easier for everyone to find out what is happening locally. They are aware that not everyone uses email and this will only appeal to some.

The community work office sent out a letter along with a stamped addressed envelope to every household at the end of November. As well as an explanation of the scheme it offered a number of options in the form of boxes to be ticked.

If names and email addresses are sent in then the North Isles community newsletter, the what’s on update and regular updates from community work can all be sent by email. People can opt for any of the above or they can ask to be informed as before.

The SIC and SRT are registered as data controllers in terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. The information provided by members of the public will only be used for the purpose of the North Isles email update and for no other purpose without explicit consent.

Yell Leisure Centre manager David Gear said he had received a few returns but the response was not nearly as high as hoped. He went on to say that it was not too late to sign up and if anyone has lost their form they can get another by emailing the community work office at To sign up for this only takes a couple of minutes and it provides a ready-made way of keeping up with the events and dates of interest to the community as a whole.

Valentine’s bingo in Skerries

The parents of the school-age children in Skerries held a Valentine’s bingo evening to raise money to help with the costs of building a new porch on the Skerries Kirk.

The hall was romantically decorated with roses and hearts. Waffles were served with jam and cream, and tea, coffee and home bakes came for afters. A great time was had by all and the total amount raised was £300.

Yell water

The snow has had a slight impact on progress since the beginning of the year on the new water scheme for Yell. However, the building work is going well and contractors Tulloch Developments are currently working on the concrete floors.

The delivery of process equipment is expected early next month from Memcor. Local contractors Ness Engineering Ltd and Ocean Kinetics Ltd will be working on the electrical and mechanical fittings.

Tulloch Developments will soon be concentrating efforts on installing the external pipes and ducts around the building before starting work on the concrete tank and pumping station. Temporary lighting will be provided for Memcor until the new power supply is provided.

Poor weather has also hampered progress on the raw water intake work but that is now nearing completion. The pipe laying on the east side of Yell is about 75 per cent complete and project manager Raymond Aitken said he hoped work would start on the pumping main to Cullivoe early in March and this work will be done by Frank L Johnson.

Mr Aitken also said Scottish Water was working with Sepa to finalise abstraction and discharge licences and it still has to organise abstraction agreements.

Tingwall noticeboard

Motorists travelling north towards the Toft ferry will have noticed that the information board at Tingwall is out of action and giving out no information. This is due to an internal fault that will be fixed sooner rather than later.

Ferry services resources manager Colin Manson apologises for any inconvenience caused to travellers. The spare parts needed to make the repairs cannot be bought off the shelf; they have to be specially made.

For this reason Mr Manson has ordered two units to be made so that in the event of a similar fault occurring they will have the necessary spares to hand.

Hard winter

By common consent this winter of 2009/10 has been a hard one weather wise. The early winter was all gales and rain and since the middle of December snow and frost.

It is a measure of just how much snow fell that despite a spell of much milder weather a lot of snow still lies in the hills and, in places, right up to the edge of the road.

It has been especially difficult for crofters and their stock. One crofter said that in an average winter he would feed his sheep every third or fourth day but with the snow it was every day.

Older folk look back to the winter of 1947 as being the mother of all winters but there is no doubt that snowy winters have been known to people of present day generations and to past generations.

It is a long-held belief that a hard winter brings all sorts of benefits like killing germs and bugs.

“A green winter maks fur a full kirk yard,” so the saying goes. Another belief is that a tough winter is a forerunner of a good summer but this scarcely stands up to close scrutiny.

Looking back at records it seems that the winter of 1894/95 was an example of a year when this did not hold good. It is said that the snow fell on Old New Year’s day, 13th January, and was still lying in the glens when the folk went out to dell in voar.

The frost was severe and the snow was deep. In north Yell it was so deep that you could walk on to the roof of the Haa of Houlland. For a long period there was no wind and the sea was as still as a loch.

Men from Midbrake in Cullivoe took a boat to a temporary noost at a place called Houllnan and went to the fishing every day; the fresh fish caught made a welcome change to the usual salt food of the winter. However, when the thaw came they discovered that their gaet to the noost was over the rooftop of one of the mills in the Burn of Midbrake.

At that time, in Unst, there was no road to Burrafirth. Stores for the Muckle Flugga lighthouse were taken by boat the length of the Loch of Cliff. The remains of the jetties can still be seen at either end.

The late Tammy Stickle of Pettister told me that he had heard his father speak about this winter.

With the loch frozen they could not use a boat on it but the ice was so thick that they took the stores from Baliasta in Baltasound to Burrafirth up the loch with a horse and cart until the thaw set in.

The following summer was one of the worst on record. Newspapers of the day reported that in June the herring fishing boats working out of Cullivoe were tied up for 10 consecutive days because of severe gales and very heavy snow showers.

Even if the boats had been able to land fish it would have been impossible for women to work outside gutting and packing the herring. Later on in the summer, August, the paper said that there were landslides in Delting and a flood in Fair Isle. Bad weather is no new phenomenon!


In writing about the meetings held recently in Skerries to discuss the Blueprint for Education I said that the secondary department of the school was down to one pupil.

This is incorrect; there are currently three secondary pupils in the Skerries School and this will increase to four next year. I am sorry, I got this wrong.

The folk of Skerries who have contacted me want to make it abundantly clear that they wish the school to continue as it is. Not only that but they do not accept some of the figures quoted; they do not believe that they reflect true costs.

As they see it the waste of money comes from sending three members of staff to Skerries to tell the folk there what they knew already.

Yell women at war

Many thanks to Andrew Nisbet of Cullivoe for his email in response to the piece about Yell women at war. Andrew’s mother Mary (I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that she is an old lady now) knows something of the Henry family. They were a large family of 13 and as well as Barbara Catherine others Henrys were involved in the wars.

In fact two brothers were killed in France. I have forwarded Andrew’s email to Marsali Taylor and hopefully this might make a small contribution to her research. Thanks too to those who have contacted Marsali directly.

Lawrence Tulloch


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