Times Past

25 Years Ago

The arrival of 31,000 yearling salmon parr on Fetlar on Sunday marked the beginning of a new era in the island’s history. The salmon farming project is an ambitious attempt to diversify the economy of Fetlar, presently heavily dependent on agriculture.

The first phase of the salmon project will be growing salmon to the smolt stage, when they will be sold, apart from a number retained to grow on to mature salmon in pump-ashore tanks – a pilot scheme for Shetland.

The salmon farm is just one of the schemes run by Fetlar Com­munity Enterprises Ltd., a com­munity co-op which was set up last year with assistance from the HIDB and the SIC research and develop­ment department.

The co-op is multi-functional and is also involved with the development of tourism on Fetlar. This year there will be a fortnightly tea room and home produce market at the new community centre, starting tomorrow. This too is a pilot scheme, run in conjunction with Shalder Coaches Ltd., and hopefully will show visitors there is more to Fetlar than birdlife.

Other projects which the co-op is investigating are an agricultural machinery project, construction work, a lamb marketing scheme and a regular haulage service, which, apart from being a service to the community, may also help to make smaller projects such as horticulture more viable.

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So many councillors have taken seats on the new education committee that it will be larger than the full SIC, when the churches’ and teachers’ representatives are included.

At the first meeting of the 27 member committee Mr Bill Smith was re-elected as chairman and Mr John Graham will serve another term as chairman.

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Millions of tiny jellyfish have forced a salmon farm to close down in Ronas Voe and the voe may have to be abandoned as a fish farm site, despite shelter and deep water which otherwise make it ideal.

Mr Gibby Johnson, a partner in Feal Salmon Ltd., confirmed this week that 200 adult salmon had died in the Ronas Voe cages recently, apparently because they had eaten jellyfish, each the size of a human fingernail, which contained small amounts of poison. Mr Johnson said that the problem was first noticed last month and returned a few weeks later when the affected fish died.

The swarm of jellyfish caused a crisis for the firm which was about to take delivery of 10,000 smolt. They were transferred to cages in Dury Voe on the east side of Shetland.

50 Years Ago

The transfer of patients from the old Gilbert Bain Hospital to the magnificent new building was accomplished very smoothly at the weekend – within two hours after lunch on Saturday all patients were comfortably in residence in the new building.

Other patients were taken from the Isolation Hospital to the old Gilbert Bain, which is to be used as a convalescent centre meantime.

First patient actually to be “admitted” was Linda Goodlad, a 10-year-old girl from Scalloway.

The first direct admission, however, was a young Polish fisherman, Michal Nowinski, who had been landed from a Polish trawler with a hand injury.

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Youth unemployment in Shetland was discussed by the County Council. It has been referred to them by the Education Committee, after hearing a report by the Youth Employment Sub-Committee. At the end of the discussion the matter was remitted back to the same sub-committee to present a report which involved the preparation of what could be termed a “black list” of local employers who refuse to operate a proper apprenticeship scheme.

The letter from the Education Committee noted that the percentage of unemployed youth in Shetland was 20.1 per cent, compared with the national overall average of 1.9 per cent, and the Scottish overall percentage of 3.7. The percentage was particularly high in the north and outer isles – 29.7 per cent.

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At least ninety per cent of Shetlanders will be able to receive the BBC’s TV and VHF service when the Shetland transmitter comes into action – but no date has so far been announced.

This does not satisfy Shetland County Council, who agreed by a majority vote on Tuesday to ask the BBC to endeavour strenuously to cover the whole of Shetland. The BBC will also be asked to hasten the work of building the stations.

The BBC [said] it did not anticipate any difficulty in obtaining sites. The station site would be on the Ward of Bressay and the link on Fitful Head.

100 Years Ago

“Only Tree in Shetland” – A correspondent in Vancouver, British Columbia, kindly sends us the following interesting extract from the Vancouver “World”. Probably the extract which the “World” quotes from the “Fruit Magazine” had its origins in the lucubrations of the news-editor of a certain London ha’penny paper, whose writings some years ago, as far as they concerned Shetland, were more remarkable for their power of imagination than for their strict accuracy. His fables have travelled far. However, this quotation is very interesting.

“Up a little lane of Lerwick’s one street, says the ‘Fruit Magazine’, there is a garden. At least, it is an enclosed space. In the middle of this space there is a tree. It is not a very tall tree; you could in fact, toss a biscuit over its branches, but still it is a tree – the only tree in Shetland. And Shetland is proud of it. Children who are brought for the first time to see the wonders of one-streeted Lerwick are shown this tree. This is not fiction. It is the only tree in Shetland.

“As there are no trees in Shetland, there are no birds, except, of course, the sea-gulls, which you can number by the thousand. The seagulls are the sparrows of Lerwick, and, as such, they have a greater share in the town’s life than the sparrows of London. In the morning-time you will not that a seagull sits on every chimney pot. Seagulls swoop and hover over every roof in the town.

“The air is full of their strange, high, plaintive, haunting cries. Their sad, shrill, long-drawn cries are to Lerwick as the chattering of spar­rows or the cawing of rooks are to us. Every house has its own familiar seagulls and every street has its own band of seagulls. They never mix. The children in each house have a pet name for their own particular seagulls, and, having called them by those names, they feed them every day. And each seagull knows what is meant for them.

“No seagull attached to one house ever seeks to eat the food scattered from the house next door. He does not dare; the other gulls would kill him. So all day long the seagulls hover and call over the roofs of Lerwick. The people of the town, if they come upon a little pile of rice laid upon the roadway, step over it with care. They know that it is placed there for some seagull. And at night the seagulls leave their own appointed chimney pots, and fly grace­fully away to their resting places on the rocks of the Isle of Noss.”

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A Rare Find – Last week, while a man belonging to Sandsting was walking over the hills he noticed something sticking out from a deep moor bank that had been cut away by the water. On drawing it out he was surprised to find that it was a very ancient horn. It had been lying embedded in the moor for centur­ies. It measures about 19 inches long, and is very thick, being about 8 inches in circumference at the thickest part. It is very much curved and in a wonderful state of preser­vation. Judging by its great thick­ness and strength, it must have belonged to a very noble-looking animal, probably of the buffalo species or some other breed that has been extinct for centuries.


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