Times Past

25 Years Ago

The uncertainty over the Old Gilbert Bain Hospital’s future deepened this week after a big display of public opposition to plans to turn the building into council offices.

Now Shetland Health Board is to take the Feuars and Heritors of Lerwick to the Lands Tribunal in an attempt to get the decision over-ruled. And if the board wins is case it will try to make sure the feuars and heritors pay the board’s legal fees.

Almost 150 Lerwick property owners crammed into the council chamber in Lerwick Town Hall last Thursday night for a special meeting of the feuars and heritors. The meeting was held to reconsider a decision taken in November not to waive a legal condition dating from the turn of the century preventing the building being used for anything other than a hospital. The vote was overwhelmingly against waiving the condition – stopping the board selling the old hospital to SLAP, the SIC’s property firm.

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Community councils in Shetland face spending curbs after the SIC policy and resources committee last week rejected plans for them to spend 28 per cent more than in the past financial year.

The committee agreed to restrict the growth in community council spending to just five per cent – in line with estimates of inflation – and to claw back 90 per cent of unspent money which many community councils had laid by for contingencies and special projects.

If approved by the full council later this month, the decision will mean the loss of £37,570 in all by 14 of the 17 community councils in the islands. But SIC finance director Mr Malcolm Green told the meeting that even after this the SIC would still be spending about a hundred times more on community councils than the rest of Scotland.

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Lerwick police are investigating one of the most bizarre thefts ever seen in the town – a stuffed tortoise. The beast was a popular conversation piece on the windowsill in Bowie’s Restaurant at Chapel House, Lerwick, and it was removed some time during the weekend. The police, whose inquiries are proceeding at a snail’s pace, would like to hear from anyone who can help them trace the 24 inch by 18 inch tortoise, described as “a fine specimen”.

50 Years Ago

Lerwick schoolboys who have not had the benefit of physical training instruction on a serious basis since last summer, when the last male P.T. instructor resigned, will be knee-bending and arm-stretching again after the Easter vacation.

A local man, Mr Reginald Williamson, has been offered a post as P.T. teacher in the Lerwick schools, to commence duty at the beginning of this term if possible.

Another ex-Anderson Educational Institute pupil is to return to his old school in a teaching post – Mr John Tait, B.Sc. (Hons. mathematics). He has been offered the post of acting principle teacher of maths at the Institute from the beginning of the new term.

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Despite most inclement weather – a strong north-easterly wind, accompanied by heavy showers of sleet – several hundred people turned out in Lerwick on Wednesday afternoon to see Mr Jo Grimond, M.P., lay the foundation stone of the R.N.M.D.S.F.’s new Lerwick institute in Harbour Street. It has been stated the cost of the new building will be in the region of £40,000.

100 Years Ago

Mysterious Disappearance in Toronto – Supposed Shetlander Goes Amissing – We have received a communication from Mr G. Anderson, 90 Rhodes Avenue, Toronto, relative to the strange disappearance of a young man named Angus Gray.

Gray was last seen on the evening of 9th March, and although he had been enjoying good health and prosperity for some time, he seemed on that occasion to have met with some shock and retired early to his room, refusing to be disturbed. In the morning he was gone, and up to the date of our correspondent’s letter (19th March) no trace of him could be found. Enquiries were made at the shipping offices and at all other likely sources of information but without result, and his friends fear that he may have wandered into the lake and been drowned.

Not much is known of his origin, but from the fact that Shetland papers have been found among his possessions it is surmised that he may have had some connection with the islands.  “Mr Gray,” adds our correspondent, “although a young man, had made a name for himself both in social and business circles. He was considered a born leader and as such was highly respected and admired. Though quiet and reserved, he was good company, and is sadly missed by all who knew him.”

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Mr George Cruikshank, the Burgh Surveyor, has completed a large scale map of the town of Lerwick, which was submitted to the Town Council at their meeting on Tuesday night. The map is on a scale of 60 inches to the mile, and shows in the most minute fashion the boundaries, streets, lanes, piers, wharves, and houses within the town. It also displays in various colours the water pipes, sewers, water taps etc. The work is beautifully executed and is mounted on rollers for hanging on the wall of the Council Chambers. It took Mr Cruikshank a year to complete it.

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Mrs Eldredge’s new hat had just arrived from New York. The brim had the fashionable downward tendency, the ribbon was exquisite, and a heavy wreath of large, many-hued globular objects encircled the picturesque crown.

The feminine members of the household eyed it approvingly, but could give no name to the botanical portion of the decorations. Mr Eldredge, however, regarded the creation with mild disfavour.

“I can see, John,” said the owner of the hat, pinning it into place and smiling at her husband, “that you don’t admire my hat. But why? Isn’t it becoming?”

“It’s becoming enough,” returned Mr Eldredge, examining it critically, “and it seems to be a nice hat, in spite of all those onions, beets, and carrots; but you know, Sallie, I never did like a boiled dinner.”


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