Times Past

25 Years Ago

Seventy-five Shetland exiles in New Zealand have already booked their passage home for the Hamefarin ‘85, the festival organising committee heard this week. And as the preparations for the Hamefarin gain momentum a package of brochures, newsletters and the official programme will be sent shortly to around 500 people worldwide who have expressed an interest in coming to Shetland.

After a long search the committee has found a boat for the floating tableau to be held on Clickimin Loch. The plan is to simulate a Viking raid on the broch, in which the Jarl is killed and then ceremonially burned on board his longship on the loch.

The 28-foot boat, supplied by Mr Henry Anderton, Vaila, was badly damaged by fire recently and the Up-Helly-A’ galley builders are busy making her watertight and kitting her out as a Viking longship.

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Our Readers’ Views: The threatened closure of the Lerwick telephone exchange and the police stations in Scalloway and Whalsay again illustrates just how peripheral areas are treated by centralised organisations. All too often the view from the centre takes little or no account of the effects of their decisions on remote areas, with local conditions, local jobs and a better local service taking second place to so-called savings and administrative tidiness.

Shetland must campaign vigorously against these proposed cuts and the Shetland Movement has written to British Telecom and the Northern Constabulary expressing these views.

John Graham

50 Years Ago

A unit of Royal Observer Corps is to be formed in Shetland this year. The unit’s function will be to observe radioactive fall-out in the event of an atomic or nuclear bomb being dropped in Britain.

It is proposed to have four underground posts at Sumburgh, Walls, Lerwick and Mossbank and there will be an establishment of 16 at each post.

In Shetland this week in connection with the setting-up of the unit was Ft. Lt. D. Brooks of the RAF, who is O.C. 30 Group Royal Observer Corps at Raigmore, Inverness. He will be back within the next six months to commence recruitment.

Membership is open to both sexes from 16 to 50. Service is voluntary, but out of pocket expenses will be met, and there will be opportunity for expense paid trips to the mainland to attend courses and camps.

Duties involve two hours attendance per fortnight and an RAF type uniform is provided.

Anyone interested in the Corps need not wait until Ft. Lt. Brooks returns to Shetland – they can get the particulars from his office.

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Tomorrow Lerwick boy Joe Greig will don the uniform of PC Boot for the last and 2,248th time as Salad Days ends a world record run at the Vaudeville Theatre, London.

Since 6th August 1954, Joe has been unsuccessfully attempting to arrest a piano, which set all London dancing. Except for holidays he has only missed two performances – once through a slight indisposition, and the other through a train delay.

Salad Days has been seen by one and a half million people and taken £750,000 and is now set to tour for the next 40 weeks.

Joe has decided not to go with the tour for two reasons – his two sons Andrew and Neil, both born while he was in the show, and who with their older brother, Robert, make Joe very much a family man.

100 Years Ago

North Yell Debating Association: On 17th instant, nearly all the male community of this district, with some from other districts, assembled in the Public Hall, Cullivoe, for a Mock Parliamentary Election. There were three “candidates.” Mr John M. Henry, Liberal; Mr J.S. Ratter, Unionist; and Mr P.M. Sandison, Socialist. At 7.30 sharp the proceedings were begun.

Mr Jas. W. Anderson (Liberal), Chairman, in a few well-chosen and pointed remarks introduced his “candidate.” Thereafter, Mr Henry proceeded to lay his views before his “constituents” and a few minutes sufficed to prove that Mr Henry was a “candidate” of no ordinary ability. He expressed his views clearly and convincingly on all subjects of political interest, and afterwards was assailed with hosts of questions, all of which were satisfactorily answered. It was moved and seconded that Mr Henry was a fit and proper person to represent “this constituency in Parliament.” This was carried by a large majority.

The Unionist “candidate” then proceeded to address the meeting, but it was seen from the first that his case was hopeless, and this proved correct when the “candidate” appeared at the bottom of the poll.

Mr A. Henderson (Socialist) Chairman, was now free to introduce his “candidate.” This he did in a way which proved he was an ideal chairman. Mr Sandison then rose to address the meeting, and gave some advanced views on Socialism, which seemed to appeal slightly to the audience. The “candidate” spoke for some considerable time, and at length appeared to be gaining ground. His determined attitude and large promises helped to win him a majority. He answered a number of questions in a very humorous way, which added much to the “candidate’s” popularity. A vote of confidence was passed in Mr Sandison, while a vote of no confidence was defeated.

The polling then took place, after which “Sheriff” Sinclair announced the result as follows: Mr P.M. Sandison, Socialist, 26; Mr J.M. Henry, Liberal, 21; Mr J.S. Ratter, Unionist, 14. Socialist majority, 5.

The successful candidate then addressed the meeting, commenting on the straightforward fight, and promising to form a ministry on March 14. The unsuccessful candidates also addressed the audience and thanked their supporters. The very successful and amusing evening’s proceedings were brought to a close with a vote of thanks to “Sheriff” Sinclair and the chairman.


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