Times Past

25 Years Ago

Pelagic fishermen have gone on strike in protest against the poor price the klondykers are offering them for west coast mackerel. Up to 150 men on 11 Shetland pursers are involved, as well as about 40 Scottish pursers.

The fishermen complain that they had been promised £115 a tonne for the mackerel, on condition that they settled for £135 for North Sea herring when £157 a tonne had been demanded for the herring. Now that the herring season is over the klondykers at Ullapool have gone back on their promise and offered a maximum of only £100 a tonne for mackerel.

The Scottish Fish Producers Organisation met on Monday and agreed to boycott the fishery. Scot­tish boats were called off the fishing grounds and the Shetland boats were asked for support. Mr John Goodlad, chief executive of the Shetland Fish Producers Organis­ation, said that the Shetland fishermen had followed the lead of their colleagues from the south by suspending the fishery.

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Five Shetland schools were completely closed yesterday and two partly closed as teachers stepped up their campaign for an independent pay review.

A total of 58 teachers were on strike, completely closing the schools at Mid Yell, Aith, Olnafirth, Ollaberry and Quarff. Sandwick and Sound schools were partly closed.

Local further education lecturers are to be balloted on a package of measures recommended by the Educational Institute of Scotland. They will also consider such matters as withdrawing from curriculum development.

The EIS further education section claims that the lecturers have had a five per cent award forced on them by management. They see it as an attempt to avoid negotiations.

The teachers’ strike will be a long hard battle, Mr Fred Forrester of the EIS said. “There is little hope I can offer to anxious parents.”

50 Years Ago

There was a disappointing turn-out for Islesburgh House Community Centre’s annual general meeting on Tuesday – only a handful of people heard the chairman, Mr Charles Moar, say that the past season had been a record one with the income in four figures.

The minutes were read and everyone thought the balance sheet extremely satisfactory – the income has more than trebled over the last 10 years.

Mr Moar spoke of the wide range of activities in the House and thanked all the groups which had handed over money to the commit­tee. He also mentioned two English hostellers who had been so delighted with the hostel that they had given a donation of a pound.

Islesburgh had been extensively re-equipped with new tables and chairs and Mr Moar thought there had never been a time in history when this had been possible before.

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Grants have been accepted for two major road improvement schemes – Bixter to Voe, via Aith, replacement of culvert and road realignment of Crinigill Burn, grant of £2,880 towards cost of £4,800; Lerwick to Sumburgh, realignment on hill approaching Bridge of Eigg, Channerwick, grant of £3,315 towards cost of £4,420.

100 Years Ago

Torpedo Flotilla in Shetland Waters – Why They Are Here – As was stated in our issue of last week would be the case, a part of the First Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet, consisting of four parent ships with their attendant flotilla of torpedo destroyers have been in Shetland waters during the past week. They were expected to arrive some time on Sunday, but fog delayed their passage, and it was late in the day before they were properly in the waters. The flotilla is under the command of Captain Edmund B.F. Charlton, Commodore Second-Class Home Fleet. The ships in the squadron are the second-class cruiser Blenheim; the unarmoured cruiser Boadicea; the scout Pathfinder; and the scout Patrol.

Disappointment was keen in Ler­wick that a larger detachment did not visit the port. On Monday mor­ning a good number of townspeople took up positions of vantage to watch their arrival, but the only ship to put in an appearance was the cruiser Blenheim, which steamed up to her anchorage about the middle of the harbour. The Blenheim is of 9000 tons displacement, under Captain Douglas L. Dent and Commander Frederic V. Fargus.  About eleven o’clock another vessel arrived, a torpedo destroyer, which rushed into the harbour at great speed and then turned and went out again. Another destroyer, the Grass­hopper, 890 tons, Lieut. Charles A Fremantle, came in on Tuesday for mails, etc., which she took to the Fleet. On Wednesday afternoon two more destroyers, the Ghurka, 870 tons, Commander F.G. St. G. Brooker, and Afridi, 855 tons, Commander C.P. Byan, anchored in the harbour to the south of the Blenheim, and they took their depar­ture on Thursday, followed a few hours later by the Blenheim. It is understood that the flotilla will leave Shetland waters on Friday for the south.

At first it was anticipated that practically the whole fleet would visit Lerwick and remain in the port from Monday till Saturday, but when only one vessel came to anchor, and reports reached the town that various sections of the flotilla were seen in different bays and different places round the coast, speculation became rife as to why so large a fleet of destroyers had been sent up to Shet­land waters, which are practically deserted by ships at this season of the year.

We are in possession of exclusive but what we regard as thoroughly reliable information, that the reason of their visit here when the waters are deserted is to test the destructive power of an entirely new shell which has been invented and supplied to torpedo boat destroyers. Wherever the official tests may have been carried out, the results have been kept secret, and no information has been divulged as to the success or otherwise of the experiment. No doubt more will be heard of this at a later stage.


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