Times Past

25 Years Ago

The battle to get a new school for Whalsay took two new twists this week when parents and teachers voted to close Symbister Junior High School for a day of protest next week and Whalsay and Sker­ries councillor Mr Henry Stewart re-opened the question of convert­ing the building into a fisheries training centre.

A public meeting in the school last Friday voted unanimously for the one-day stoppage on Tuesday week – 18th March – and passed a resolution that the island would “no longer accept” the conditions in which Whalsay pupils are taught.

In a letter to The Shetland Times this week, eight parents representing those who were present at the meeting say that in the next month or two they will “see if the council really cares about the building and facilities needed in Whalsay. If the sight of the children being taught in cellars and cupboards cannot move them to action, nothing else will.”

They say that Whalsay has now been waiting fourteen years for a new school and has been neglected during the oil years.

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Reawick bricklayer Brian Kelly let charity supporters put their money where his mouth is … and raised £1,000 with a nine-week sponsored slim. Mr Kelly, aged 21, lost 47 lbs with a fast “fast” and the cash has gone to the Arun for Aith lifeboat campaign.

“I intended losing weight any­way, but I thought it would be a good idea to raise some money at the same time,” said Mr Kelly, who now tips the scales at 13 1/2 stone and is still losing weight. “I had some very generous sponsors – one person gave me a pound a pound – but I don’t think they expected me to lose quite so much!”

The cheque for £1,000 was handed over to Mr David Garrick, secretary of the lifeboat appeal, at a supper and dance in Aith Hall last Friday. The fund-raisers are now around £34,000 short of their target.

And Mr Kelly’s recipe for slim success? “I cut out food, more or less,” said the new-look bricklayer.

50 Years Ago

There will be no Sunday air services to and from Shetland this summer. This was stated by B.E.A. this week, when they announced that there will be no services from Aberdeen at all on Sundays.

The news has caused some disap­point­ment locally, because there is no doubt that a Sunday service during the peak holiday period in the summer would benefit the islands’ tourist trade.

Mr R.L.C. Manson, town clerk and hon. treasurer of Shetland Tourist Association, said he thought there was a definite demand for the extra service. Most people still had to start and end their holidays at a weekend, and a Sunday service would have been extremely useful from the local viewpoint because Saturday and Monday services were inevitably booked out during the peak of the season.

A spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce said that in this day and age there certainly should be a Sunday service, but they hardly expected it this year after what happened in 1960. He recalled that B.E.A. had it all organised, but at the last minute the Ministry of Civil Aviation levied excessive landing charges at the airports and killed the scheme. B.E.A. wanted to provide the service, and the Shetland Chamber would support any efforts to provide one.

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Angry householders in Heddell’s park housing scheme spoke yester­day of vandalism on Wednesday night. Most of the damage was con­fined to the Gardie Lane and Chapel Place corner of the scheme – tenants woke on Thursday morning to find many young trees and shrubs torn from other neighbours’ property, and their pavements a mess of mud and earth where trees had been drag­ged along by their roots. Several gates had been removed from their hinges and carried off.

Yesterday Town Council employ­ees were busy cleaning up the pavements and replacing some of the plants. The council’s head gardener, Mr John Constable, said as he surveyed the damage, “This is undoubtedly the worst case of vandalism I have seen in this area. We have had reports of minor damage before, but never anything like this.”

Mr James Edwardson, 3 Chapel Place, said, “The damage must have been done sometime late at night. Shrubs in my garden were torn up by their roots, and I heard that trees which had been taken from neigh­bouring gardens have been found in other parts of the scheme. This has certainly not been done by children – it is more probably the work of teenagers.”

100 Years Ago

Fire Outbreak in Lerwick – Blazes in Bootmakers’ shops – By a curious coincidence, after being happily immune from fires for a considerable time, two fires broke out in Lerwick at the beginning of this week within a few hours of each other, and both in bootmakers’ premises.  They were both soon got under, but not before, in the second case at any rate, a considerable amount of damage had been caused.

About four o’clock in the after­noon of Monday a chimney in the back shop of the premises of Mr Thomas Strong, boot and shoe maker, Commercial Street, went on fire. The chimney is apparently a built-up one, unlined, and the fire took hold in some of the crevices and continued to burn for about an hour, sending forth dense volumes of smoke. The help of the Fire Bri­gade was requisitioned and played water upon and down the chimney and upon the walls and roofs of an adjoining house. It was difficult, how­ever, to get at the root of the fire, and some time passed before it was extinguished. The damage, which is slight, was confined to the back of the shop and to the adjoining house, and was mostly caused by water.

The second fire occurred the follow­ing morning within the boot-repairing premises on the South Esplanade of Messrs Goodlad & Coutts, Commercial Street. While Mr George Irvine, baker, Charlotte Lane, was coming to the foot of Mounthooly Street about half past four, he observed a heavy smoke in the direction of the pier, and felt a strong smell of burning. Suspecting a fire he made his way to the square below the Market Cross, and there saw that Messrs Goodlad & Coutts’ premises were on fire. There was a great quantity of smoke, and the crackling of wood in the blaze could be distinctly heard. Approaching the window he saw that the interior of the building was well alight.

The Fire Inspector (Mr Emslie) and the Brigade were immediately summoned. While the Brigade got ready the apparatus, Mr Emslie and a few assistants made immediate use of a hose, which had been left behind the post office from the previous fire. In a few minutes the proper apparatus was brought down from the shed, and after a short but sharp attack the fire succumbed. In half an hour after the hoses were brought into play the blaze was well under, and another hour or so saw the last of it extinguished.

The severest damage was to the workshop on the ground floor, which is situated in the part of the building nearest to the Esplan­ade. The cause of the fire is un­known but it seems that it originated here and spread to the staircase and upper storey, destroying a large quantity of leather and boots, boots for repair, workmen’s tools and benches, as well as doing extensive damage to the partitions and fit­tings. The fire was only caught in time, for it showed signs of spread­ing to another part of the building where a large stock of inflammable material was kept.

Messrs Goodlad & Coutts have in this week’s issue inserted an advertisement publicly thanking the local Fire Brigade for the timely and effective assistance rendered.


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