Times Past

25 Years Ago

Shetland Islands Council has turned down a planning application – from Shetland Islands Council!

The proposal to carry out earthworks next to the Clickimin sports ground in North Lochside, Lerwick, was thrown out after fears were expressed that the site might become a dump.

The original plan was to excavate and then fill in the spare land with rubble and waste from nearby coun­cil house refurbishment projects. Officers said that would save on removal costs and eventually provide the area with new playing fields.

But after a site visit, councillors agreed that dumping would be impossible to control and contractors and fly-tippers would inevitably get rid of their rubbish there and the area would be soiled.

At the same planning meeting, an application by the council – which officials had advised be refused – was given the go ahead.

This proposal involved the relocation of stone crushing plant at Scord Quarry, Scalloway, which is becoming old and needs to be replaced.

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Parents and teachers in Whalsay are refusing to accept temporary classrooms because they fear that the portable buildings might be used as an excuse to delay still further the building of a new school at Symbister.

Mrs Loretta Hutchison, a member of the special joint committee set up to deal with the Symbister school problem, said after a meeting with education director Mr Robin Barnes last Friday: “If the diggers were starting work on the foundations of the new school then maybe we would accept even portacabins but unless we get a definite go-ahead on the new building we’re not accepting them. We’re afraid that if we take in more wooden buildings then we’ll never get a new school.”

Mrs Hutchison said the meeting had agreed a list of points drawn up by Mr Barnes to present to the education department in Edinburgh, but the committee had not yet seen a draft of the detailed arguments making the case for the school. She hoped that this document would be before the next meeting of the joint committee a week on Monday. Mean­while, parents and teachers are drawing up a list of possible alter­native uses for the present junior high school premises.

50 Years Ago

Shetland County Council’s Land­ward Committee seem quite prep­ared to provide special houses for old folks in rural areas – but the trouble is finding anyone willing to live in them!

At Tuesday’s meeting, there was a letter from Yell Development Council in regard to the provision of such houses in Yell.

It is noted that a recent survey of the population of Yell showed that out of a population approximately 1300 there were 250 people over sixty years of age. That was an alarming proportion when it was realised that many of these people were in isolated crofts.

Since the Crofters Commission was complaining that Yell crofts were not worked to capacity due to the age and disability of many of the crofters, would it not be in the interests of the community to put up small groups of houses suitable for old age pensioners?

The question had been raised before, but surely the Council should not be averse to such a scheme, especially when it was considering putting up a swimming bath for £40,000!

The county clerk pointed out that the Council had agreed to a prototype scheme in Scalloway.

Mr J. R. Smith thought it was a pity that the Development Council had taken the age of sixty – that meant one fifth of the total popula­tion. A Shetlander at sixty should be able to swim even without a bath. The Yell people should have raised the age to about 70, when some people did begin to falter.

100 Years Ago

A Territorial Outing – Mimic War at Asta – Naturally, on a public holi­day and the occasion of a Territorial outing, the weather was not at its best. A strong, chill wind from the south-east blustered gustily over the hills and level land, making it uncomfortable to stand or sit inactive for more than a few minutes. Then, as if the wind were not enough, the heavens were cloudy and several times threatened rain, though late in the afternoon the blessed warm sunshine put some comfort into the air and into the bodies of the great coat-less troops. But it would be conveying a totally false impression to insist upon these drawbacks, for they affected scarcely at all the pleasure of the day’s operations, and in the general enthusiasm were hardly noticed.

The turn-out of Territorial on this occasion was not so great as in some previous instances, but about fifty men paraded at Headquarters on Thursday morning. A detachment under Qr.-Master Lieut. Williamson was sent out at ten o’clock in charge of the provender, and half an hour later Capt. Grierson led out the remainder of the Force. The main body took its way over the North Road and Windy Grind to its destination, Asta Loch, where the Commissariat was already actively engaged in preparations for the newcomers’ comfort after their battle with the storm. On the way there were exercises in judging distances, etc., and when the camp­ing ground was reached, a lesson in tent erecting was given.

But the most interesting event in programme, as well as the most important part of the training was the sham fight which took place soon after dinner. Marching with a good half of the men into Scalloway, Capt. Stephen received considerable reinforcements there, and he led the combined forces in an attack on a knoll to the southwards of Asta farm. The defence was entrusted to Capt. Macdougall and the remaining men.  Right and left wings were thrown out by the defenders. The advance guard of the centre portion took up position on a kopje com­mand­ing the road, some two hundred yards from their base, and the wings also threw out advance guards. Soon the attackers were seen marching up the road from Scalloway. Halting about 900 yards off, under a knoll which protected them from the advance fire of the defenders, a small party was detached to the left to oppose the defence’s right wing. The first shot of the battle was fired at 4.20. Another party was thrown off to attack the centre, and as soon as it was in position, the main body advanced along the road upon the defence’s left centre and left. The defenders’ centre moved farther forward from their position to check the advance, their advance guards fell back, and soon a hot fire was raging all along the line. Cover was good for both sides, though the defence, being on the ground, had naturally chosen the best. The attackers came steadily on, at the risk of being annihilated several times over, and by-and-bye, when the two lines could almost have shaken hands, the fight was declared over. The umpire (Capt. Grierson) decided that the defenders had suf­ficiently repelled, or at least delayed the attackers, to permit of the camp in the rear being removed.  Then the friendly enemies mar­ched back together for tea. About seven o’clock the camp was struck, and the Corps made for home, the Lerwick contingent coming in by the South Road.


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