Times Past

25 Years Ago

There was another gas leak at Sullom Voe Terminal on Tuesday evening. It is understood production from the Ninian oil system had to be reduced and quantities of gas flared off when engineers overhauling a suspect pipe found it was leaking from a defective weld.

The pipe takes gas at a pressure of 450 lbs/sq. in. from the com­pressor to the fractionation plant. The defects were found during a routine X-ray inspection.

The recent gas blow-out at Sullom Voe was very worrying, Mr Willie Tait told SIC’s ports and harbours committee on Tuesday. It appeared that a colossal amount of gas had been flared off to avert any danger to the terminal, he said. The council could be sitting on a time bomb, he added.

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A major row has broken out over where to build the SIC’s proposed fisheries training centre. After a long argument both inside and outwith the SIC, councillors initially heavily supported building the centre at Port Arthur in Scalloway rather than Symbister House in Whalsay. But immediately the Scalloway site was narrowly rejected in favour of Lerwick.

The decision brought a storm of protest from Scalloway and other areas on over-centralising major projects and lack of discussion.

Scalloway councillor Major Bill Anderson has collected the six signatures of councillors needed to put a motion to next month’s SIC meeting calling for the decision to be reversed. Fish processors association chairman Mr Arthur Nicolson has also attacked the choice of Lerwick.

And Whalsay member Mr Henry Stewart has not given up his fight to get the centre in Whalsay. He claimed that using Symbister House JH School when the new school was built would save up to £2 million on a completely new building. He had a petition signed by 202 people in Whalsay, Skerries and Vidlin supporting the Whalsay site.

50 Years Ago

The Town Council have adopted a new policy concerning the erection of garages at municipal houses.

The matter arose when a Brae­wick Road tenant applied for permission to erect a garage at the side of the house he occupied.

Treasurer R.A. Anderson said he thought the time had come for the Council to seriously consider allow­ing tenants to erect garages at or near their houses, where that was possible. A large proportion of tenants now had cars and there was a serious shortage of garages, so he moved the Housing Committee agree in prinicple to consider ap­plications such as this – but in the first instance they should visit the proposed site of this garage. The committee agreed.

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Recently Mr Green, the Scottish Home Department’s lighting engineer, told councillors their proposed re-lighting scheme was very good. He said, however, he would prefer staggered lighting alternately on each side of the road. In King Harald Street this would mean overhead wiring, but as the height of the standards was 25 ft this should cause no difficulty.

He recommended concrete standards as these required very little maintenance, and the best type of lamp from the point of view of initial cost and maintenance was still the 140 watt sodium.

100 Years Ago

A White Seal’s Perambulations – Strange Visitor in Lunnasting – Our Lunnasting correspondent writes us: – On Thursday, 10th November, a somewhat unusual visitor paid a visit to Lunna in the morning, in the shape of a half-grown white seal, crawling about in a yard near the Mansion House. It stopped thereabout for a short time and then went up north the road about 180 yards, when it came to a shut gate abreast of the old schoolhouse. When the seal found it could not get through it had a look round. Then it turned and retraced its slow steps back again. About half way back there is a path branching off east from the main road, leading up to the Bergins. Up it went that way, then turned south and went along the length of two park dykes and a garden dyke, but when it had got that length it brought up again and had another look round. Then it got sight of the sea at the east banks, where it fain would have been, and made a start down the hill.  From there down to the sea it was safely guided by three people, of whom the writer was one, but it did not in any way appear to be grateful for the attention shown to it on the way, for oft-times it would turn round and stare with wild eyes, show its teeth or tusks, groan and growl, and make loud noises resembling the roar of a cow. But after all, about half-past three o’clock in the afternoon it got safe and sound to the sea. When there it turned its head and gave a look as much to say, “Good-bye, fare you well. I may not see you again for I am off to become a monster of the deep.”

Whether it came up from the west shore or the east shore to the place where it was first seen is not known, but likely it came from the west shore. But from either shore the distance was over two hundred yards, and in all from leaving the sea until it got back again it had travelled nothing short of one thousand yards.

It was not altogether like the common spotted seal. Its head was long and flat and very broad down across the nose and mouth. Its eyes were very large. Its fur was more like hair, and it had a somewhat long tail.

The writer would be pleased to know if anyone reading this ever saw or heard of a seal behaving in like manner before, and if white seals are different in appearance from the others.


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