Times Past

25 Years Ago

Shetland’s posties have been literally run off their feet this Christmas, with the Post Office reporting a five per cent increase over last year in the volume of Christmas mail. The total number of letters and parcels delivered in Shetland between 1st and 23rd December was a staggering 576,000.

The TSB bank reported that four times the usual amount of money had been withdrawn from the cash machine in the week before Christmas.

A spokesman for the Clydesdale Bank said that in the past two weeks over £1 million had been withdrawn by customers. The Royal Bank’s cash machine gave out £82,500 in the week before Christmas and the Bank of Scotland reported £80,000 was withdrawn from their cash machine.

: : : : : : : :

A Lerwick schoolteacher has won a £700 scholarship to study young people “at risk” in island communities in the North Atlantic and Baltic.

Mr Stewart Hay, principal teacher of history at Anderson High School, has been awarded the travelling scholarship by the Florence and Don McGregor Trust, which he read about the in The Guardian newspaper.

50 Years Ago

Highlights of 1960 There was regret at the news that the Flying Angel mission had closed its doors after operating in Charlotte Street since just after the first world war. However the mission continues to play a very useful role as a mission for Norwegian fishermen. British seafarers will be catered for in a handsome building to be erected at the other side of the Fort by RNMDSF.

A great change in dairy standards has taken place in Shetland in re­cent years. The county sanitary in­spector was able to report that every producer’s premises now confor­med to the desired standards. Twenty years ago not one of them did. Perhaps it will take as long for the Education Committee to achieve as high a standard of oral hygiene in an all-out assault on the problem of bad teeth. The intro­duction of fluorides is being investi­gated, but an immediate practical measure has been the em­ployment of a third school dental surgeon.

First moves towards providing Shetland with a TV service came in March when BBC technicians visited Fair Isle. In the summer a BBC team erected experimental apparatus on the Ward of Bressay, which appears to be the likely site for the TV station, due to be completed by 1963.

A Scottish Education Department assistant secretary who spent three days in July touring school proper­ties in the islands told Shetland Education Committe to “be bold” with their replacement programme. And bold they will certainly be, for at a recent meeting the convener of the Property Sub-Committee said that the officials’ report “was a clear invitation that building could pro­ceed to the maximum capacity of the professional and technical staff available.” The largest job in the immediate future is the exten­ision of the Anderson Institute, and the modernisation of the Central School. A new school is being erec­t­ed in Scalloway, and many schemes for reconstruction or com­plete rebuilding are on the drawing boards.

In September the Education Committee accepted several recommend­ations from their study group in education and industry. These included a proposal that navigation should be taught in every secondary school in the county. Later the same group turned down a proposal for a Shetland sea school on the grounds there were plenty of vacancies at Leith.

The imports ban because of foot and mouth further south has not been reflected in any shortages in the shops, with the exception of eggs, and that is mainly due to many local people going out of the poultry business. The town, in fact, has been so busy that the old “parking problem” has occupied the attention of the Harbour Trust once more. No doubt wherever you park your car they will join us in extending to you good wishes for this festive season. And remember – if you drink, don’t drive.

100 Years Ago

Yule-Tide Festivities – Merry-Making in Lerwick – As is usually the case, the advent of the Christmas season with its brightness and cheer has been greeted in town with general rejoicing. Trade prospects, while not particularly bright, are by no means stagnant, and the herring fishing this year has brought more money into the islands than for a good number of years back, so that there is a prevailing feeling of satisfaction, and the Yule-tide rejoicing has been all the more hearty in consequence. The town has held a large number of visitors, both natives returned from the south and from abroad and visitors from the islands themselves. The shops have all been suitably decorated for the season and during all the week Commercial Street has worn a bright and animated appearance. Christmas Day (Sunday) was celebrated in fitting fashion in all the churches in town, with services appropriate to the times. Scarcely had the bells of the Town Hall clock died away at mid-night on Saturday when the chimes burst forth with “It came upon the midnight clear.” During Christmas Day several other hymns were pealed forth by the bells.

In the Congregational Church at three o’clock an interesting children’s service was held, of which the whole programme of carols, solos, and recitations was borne by the children. There was a good attendance and the service was a very pretty one. A similar service took place in the Parish Church at the same hour, which also was well attended and the programme was very attractive. St Ringan’s United Free Church was crowded in the evening, the annual carol service being given by a large choir, assisted by the Lerwick String Band. Rev. Dr Willcock, minister of the church, presided. As usual the service was if an excellent description. It was repeated on Tuesday morning.

The annual holiday was fixed for Tuesday. Monday unfortunately was a bleak and wintry day, and heavy showers of sleet and snow fell frequently, leaving the streets in a sloppy condition, but nevertheless the number of guizers who appeared during the afternoon and evening was very large – probably greater than has been seen for a considerable number of years. There seems of late years to be some indication that the custom of guizing on Christmas and New Years’ Eves is coming back once more into general favour, as was the case before the recent revival of the Uphelly A’ festival. During the afternoon and early evening the “peerie guizers” appeared on the streets in alarming numbers, un­deterred by the elements, and there is no doubt that they preyed upon the passers-by very suc­cessfully and collected sufficient cheerfully-given donations to enable them to have a right royal Christmas. They kept the streets very lively and some of their costumes were very effective.

Later on, the time of the guizers came. By this time snow had ceased to fall, though walking was wet and difficult, but the weather had no power to damp enthusiasm for the fun. Many of the townspeople opened their houses for the occasion, and their kindness was taken advantage of to the full by the various troupes.  There was plenty of spirit and joviality in the whole proceedings. The fun was kept up in some instances until after four o’clock.

Tuesday was like the ideal Christmas Das as seen in pictures and Christmas cards. A touch of frost during the night had hardened the fallen snow and the landscape round the town was covered with a white mantle. The air was keen and refreshing. Quite early in the day the holiday-makers began to put in an appearance on the streets, which soon began to look animated. Large numbers, taking advantage of the snow, proceeded to Gullet’s Brae, where they engaged hilariously in sledging. The day, however, passed quietly.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.