Times Past

25 Years Ago

Four Norwegians intent on re-living Viking times arrived in Lerwick harbour on Monday in their two small longships. They have almost completed a voyage round Britain without the aid of compasses or charts, radars, radios or any other modern equipment – just as the Vikings would have done.

The leader of the expedition is Olaf Engvig, a maritime historian who has been interested in the Vikings’ navigating techniques for a number of years. He is a veteran of voyages done in Viking style with no mod cons and his reason is simple: “I like to put theories to the test.”

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There was general disappointment among Shetland Islands Council and its counterparts in Orkney and the Western Isles over the Government’s rejection of the main recommendations of the Montgomery Committee.

In a statement on Tuesday Scottish Secretary George Younger refused to give the islands councils more financial powers as recommended by the committee. Both the SIC and Mr Jim Wallace MP criticised the decision, but said it was in line with Government policy to take power from local authorities.

The Montgomery Committee of Inquiry was set up by the Government in February 1982 and was the result of a long campaign by the islands councils, strongly led by the SIC’s call for greater autonomy.

The Old Rock had this to say: “The Montgomery report itself was a snub for the Shetland Movement and the Secretary of State’s response to it represents a further watering down of its aspirations. For that at least it should be welcomed.”

50 Years Ago

In general, fewer young people are unemployed in Shetland this year compared with last year. But the position in the north and outer isles is still very grave, and, contrary to expectations, April figures were worse than January ones.

Figures were given at a meeting of the Youth Employment Sub-Committee last week. It was reported that 21 boys and 14 girls left school at Easter. Of these, 15 boys are now in employment, two are at Leith Sea School, and four are still unemployed. Twelve girls are in employment, leaving two unemployed.

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As reported briefly last week the Sandwick Boating and Swimming Club’s annual regatta at Sandsayre was postponed after only one race had been sailed on Tuesday, 19th July.

The postponement was due to the sudden illness of Mrs Catherine Smith, who died later that evening. One of her sons, Mr Duncan Smith, who was in charge of the guard boat, had to be called ashore when his mother became ill.

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In Lerwick Sheriff Court last Friday, Archibald Hutchison, 12 Bruce Crescent, admitted that on 28th May he was the owner of a dog found in St. Magnus Street without a collar bearing the name and address of the owner.

The fiscal said that a golden Labrador dog was hanging about St. Magnus Street that Saturday afternoon, and it was taken to the police station. It was not until Monday evening that it was identified as belonging to the accused.

Hutchison said he had searched all round Lerwick for it that weekend. The dog had a collar on it when it went out of the house, and this was the second collar he had lost.

The appearance in court of accused would have brought home to him – and the Sheriff hoped to other people – the fact that dogs must have collars on when they roamed the streets. He would dismiss accused with an admonition.

100 Years Ago

German Cruiser Visits Lerwick – On Tuesday the German cruiser and training ship Hansa, Fregattenkapitan Feldt, arrived in Lerwick from Bergen, after a lengthy cruise in Norwegian waters. The Hansa was built in 1898, and carries a complement of 460, but on the present occasion, that number is increased to over 600, including 26 officers, 60 midshipmen, and about 200 boys, who are being trained for the German Navy. Her armament consists of two 8.2 Krupp guns, eight 5.9 40-calibre Krupp guns, ten 3.4 30-calibre Krupp guns, ten 1 p.r. revolving cannon, and three torpedo tubes, one aft and one on each broadside. The present cruise began about two months ago and will last for about ten months more, extending as far as the West Indies. The vessel’s next port of call is Leith.

On the day she arrived Vice-Consul W.A.A. Tulloch paid the ship an official visit, and on leaving received the consular salute. The following day Provost Porteous, along with Bailie Laing and Bailie Stout, waited upon the commander, who returned the visit later.

During the time the Hansa is in port, the Gilbertson Park has been placed at the disposal of the ship, and on Thursday afternoon and evening the ship’s bands gave musical performances there. Evidently plentiful shore leave is given, and as many as three hundred of the lads are allowed ashore in one day. In the public park they spend much of their time in football. They also engage in drill, and generally amuse themselves there.

Commander Feldt was in Lerwick two years ago in command of the training ship Charlotte. His first visit to Lerwick was paid as a cadet 22 years ago. During the time his vessel, the Hansa, was in Norwegian waters recently, she was four times visited by the Kaiser.

The Hansa will remain at Lerwick until Monday. She is open to inspection daily between the hours of one and three and five and eight. On Sunday the public will be permitted to visit her from one o’clock till ten.

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Exorcising a Demon – A Crown application for enhancement of sentence and quashing of an acquittal has been before the Calcutta High Court. The persons concerned were charged with inflicting cruel burns and other injuries in the process of exorcising an evil spirit. The victim of the exorcism was the wife of one Kedu Faraji. She was little more than a child when she was married, but by reason of certain peculiar habits she was supposed among her husband’s relations to be possessed of an evil spirit, and this belief was strengthened by her own “admissions.” Her husband, anxious to live in peace, at last sent for two persons, supposed to hold occult power, to exorcise the demon. The usual incantations were uttered with an accompaniment of drums and gongs, and on the instructions of these two men Kedu Faraji and his friends branded her with glowing coals. She was then taken to her father’s house and left there. The police, being informed, sent up the two spell workers, the husband, and his three friends, who assisted in the branding, for trial.

The magistrate held that the accused honestly believed that the girl was possessed of an evil spirit, and that what was done to her was done with the genuine intention of exorcising the demon. He accordingly acquitted the husband and his three friends, and convicted the two witch doctors and fined them Rs.51 each.


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