Times Past

25 Years Ago

Muckle Roe is to get a new bridge – but until it is built a 10 tonne weight restriction will have to be enforced on the present bridge.

A hundred people live in Muckle Roe and the present bridge was built in 1947. Tests and repairs are to be done to ensure that it can carry vehicles up to the 10 tonne limit.

Chairman of Delting community council, Mr Alastair Cooper, said this week that he did not know when the new bridge would be built. The people of Muckle Roe deserved better than the promise of a new bridge sometime in the future, he said, and the project should be treated as urgent.

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The owners of the main beef slaughterhouse in the islands have claimed they could go out of business if Shetland Islands Council does not abolish its meat inspection charge.

Boddam slaughterhouse, owned by butchers Flaws and Burgess, last year handled 471 of the 496 cattle killed in the islands. Then the meat inspection charge was £1.80 a beast. This year the charge has rocketed to £5.80 and Mr Henry Burgess claimed: “It seriously affects the viability of our business. It could put us out of business.”

The council decided to raise the charges in April to cover the cost of the operation. They are legally bound to either recover the full cost from the client or levy no charge at all and foot the whole bill. The council decided to put a dramatic increase on the beef charge while the charge on sheep increased from 60p to 65p.

There is no charge levied by local authorities in England and Wales and in some parts of Scotland for the meat inspection service, while in other areas the charge is not as high as in Shetland. There was no inspection charge here until eight years ago.

50 Years Ago

Despite a very poor month of June, Shetland has enjoyed a better tourist traffic this year than last. That is the summing-up of the present season by the Shetland Tourist Association’s information officer, Mr Lindsay Robertson, who presented a report to the executive last night.

He reported:- This year May was a good deal better, tanks to the Hamefarin week in the latter part of the month. June was, however, very poor and many people in the industry thought we were in for a bad season. I am glad to report however that July, August and September have been extremely good and while no figures are available yet, it would appear that the season had been better than 1959. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the early part of the season is to developed at all and it is up to the Association to consider ways and means of improving the trade in the early part of the year.

The Scottish Tourist Board figures for visits to Shetland in 1959 is 16,414 people. Up to now I have felt very diffident about using these figures but this summer I corresponded with the board and regarding the collection and make-up of their figures. I found that their returns were made up only from their returns from hotels and boarding houses. They did not take into account the shipping company’s round trip passengers nor the large number of people who come to Shetland and stay with friends or relations or someone who has been recommended to them and who is not on the official accommodation list. It is, therefore, correct to say that the figure of 16,414 is a very conservative estimate of the number of people who visited these islands in 1959. If one takes the average value of a tourist at a very low average of £12 one arrives at the rather interesting figure of £196,968 of income from this comparatively new and undeveloped industry.

The centre concludes its tourist year on the 20th September and preliminary work has already begun on preparing the 1961 accommodation list which will have to be printed and ready for publication in December. The Shetland Times Ltd. are also well ahead with the production of a guide book.

100 Years Ago

The Bressay Burglary – Recovery of Stolen Money – Most of the money stolen from the Bressay Post Office on Thursday night of last week has been recovered.

The story of the finding of it is that on Saturday three young boys were standing talking together at the Bridge of Nestigarth, when one of them remarked that there was a package lying on the beach. It was picked up and examined by another, who exclaimed that there were pennies in it. The three boys came to the conclusion that it must be the money stolen from the Post Office and they took it to that place, where they were detained until the police interviewed them.

But how did the money come to be there? Supt. Gray of the County Police has come at once to the conclusion that it was not put in that spot on Thursday night. The money was wrapped up in a handkerchief and the boys found it lying among seaweed where it would surely have been covered when the tide rose, yet the handkerchief and the money were quite dry. The place, moreover, is one by which dozens of wayfarers pass, and the package was so placed or thrown down that it must have been noticed at once had it lain there.

In all probability the thief was afraid. The rumour had gone around Bressay that the police had their suspicions, and whether correct or not, the story was sufficient to frighten the real thief, who took the first opportunity of getting rid of the money. But he did not get rid of it all. He retained £1 5s 2d for his trouble. The whole amount taken was £30 4s, and the money found on the beach was £28 18s 9d.

As was stated in our issue of last week, entrance was made through a window, the catch of which was thrown back. There were a few trifling marks upon the freshly-painted wood. A thin table knife which was usually lying outside the premises was gone on the morning after the cash was stolen. By experiment with a similar knife from the house, it has been found that at least another window could be opened with it.  When the hasp was forced back by inserting the knife between the frames of the top and bottom portions of the window, the upper half was pulled down sufficiently to allow an arm to be inserted to pull the catch right back.

Once inside the thief had an easy task. The cash was kept in a locked drawer, which, however, could easily have been forced, and a key fitting the lock was left in another drawer.

This case brings home clearly the risks which the country postmaster and postmistresses run. They are held responsible for all money belonging to the Department and expected to replace any which may be lost or stolen. Yet they are not provided with a safe, and it is absurd to expect them to buy one for themselves out of the trivial remuneration offered.


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