Times Past

25 Years Ago

Off the Spike: The miner’s strike is over and the post-mortem’s started. There is no doubt the miners have suffered great financial loss as a result of their action. Likewise, as a result of going back to work with no coal board agreement not to close “uneconomic pits” a good number of them will lose their jobs.

The question on everyone’s lips in these circumstances is was it all worthwhile? Many would argue it was not. But, really, only a miner who has been on strike can answer that question.

Some commentators have argued that miners were sold out by their leadership who, by not bringing out their union members in a democratic vote, deprived them of other trade unionists and the general public.

Comments like that are an insult to the intelligence of miners. To suggest they followed blindly for 12 difficult months, a man, Arthur Scargill, who was intent on keeping them out on strike to satisfy some personal desire to bring the government down is folly. It has been obvious from the very early days there was no way the strike would bring down the government. Arthur Scargill is astute enough to realise that.

Arthur Scargill did his job well during the strike and for the strike to have gone on so long the views he put forward must have been the same as the vast majority of miners. The strike was not about personality as some would have us believe.

50 Years Ago

A Multiple Sclerosis Society branch has been formed in Shetland with the intention of raising funds and giving help and comfort where possible to sufferers of this disease in Shetland.

Some time ago Mrs P Wilson, South Lochside, contacted the society in Edinburgh in an effort to have a branch opened in Shetland, and they in turn approached Mr R H W Bruce.

At the inaugural meeting Mr Bruce was appointed Chairman, Mrs Catherine Groat, secretary; Mr Harry Drever, treasurer, and Mr Harry Reid and Mrs Wilson committee members.

Speaking on this subject in the House of Commons, Mr D M Keegan said that since the formation of the society in 1953 it had continued its excellent and successful work. It had over 6,000 members and would best describe itself as a mutual aid society.

Those who did not suffer a disability tended to take a far too academic view of the disease. They tended to ask whether or not there was a cure and forget that to be disabled in the way in which multiple sclerosis disabled was, in fact, to have one’s whole life altered in every aspect.

100 Years Ago

Roman Catholic Church for Lerwick – On Tuesday the plans of the new Roman Catholic Chapel for Lerwick were before the Town Council. The chapel is to be built on the vacant feu in Albany Street, opposite to Mr T. L. Arcus’s feu, and will be built length ways along Harbour Street. The plans show a building of 78 feet in length by 26 feet broad, with a total height of 37 feet, and a height to the eaves of 20 feet. It is to be built of selected rubble, with Eday freestone dressings. The windows are nine in number, four on each side, with a large one at the west end, and there are besides smaller ones to light the altar recess. Five buttresses are provided at each side and the building is gothic in design. The gables at the end of the building and also the top of the altar recess will be decorated by crosses. Internally, the building will be plastered, with wooden floor and white wood seats, and will be lighted with gas. The windows are to be of tinted cathedral glass. Seating accommodation is provided for 450 people. The congregation will enter by a door in the south side, at the east, or altar, end of the building, and at the opposite end, in Harbour Street, a small porch will be fitted up for the accommodation of the priest. The building will stand fifteen feet from the line of the street. The plans are by Malcolm Baikie, Kirkwall.

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The “Zetland” Cigarette – It is not generally known that the first shop for cigarettes in Britain was opened in London in 1861 by a Greek captain in the Russian Army, named Joh Theodoridi. The early cigarettes were made with card mouthpieces (after the old fashion still prevailing in Russia), while the tobacco used in their manufacture was imported from Turkey. There were four brands used in these far-off days; one of which was “The Zetland”. It would be interesting to know how such a name came to be given to a special brand of cigarettes manufactured in London nearly half-a-century ago, by a Greek captain of the Russian Army.


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