Times Past

25 Years Ago

Mrs Madeleine Smith of Scalloway got a surprise recently when a strange menacing creature emerged from a basinful of Egyptian potatoes. She was going to clear up the sink and dispose of the tattie peelings when she was confronted by a creature nearly two inches long which suddenly opened its claws, raised its tail and showed a nasty looking spike.

It was obviously a scorpion but of what species we will never know since her family, who responded to her screams, quickly killed it and washed it down the sink – which was just as well since a scorpion’s sting can be very dangerous.

Scalloway Meat Company, who sold the tatties, have pointed out that the large bags of potatoes contain a lot of sand and earth and it is quite possible that a small creature like this could have survived the long journey from Egypt to Shetland.

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The prospect of the entire population of Shetland being airlifted to safety in the event of the Chernobyl-type disaster at Dounreay was this week described as “completely ridiculous” by Mr Mike Gerrard, chief executive of Shetland Islands Council.

The scenario of aircraft being diverted from the likes of Heathrow to fly Shetland and Orkney islanders away from any nuclear cloud was outlined by Mr George Milligan, emergency planning officer with Highland Regional Council, at the long running Dounreay inquiry last week.

Mr Milligan, who was being cross-examined by objector Dr Kenneth Delbray, said responsibility for evacuation of Shetland would lie with the islands councils, in the “unlikely event” of a large release of radioactivity.

“There are aircraft available not too far away, in terms of flying time, and if an evacuation were ordered – and the emphasis must be ion ‘if’ – then I should think that air transport could be provided,” he said.

He mentioned Heathrow dealing with a million passengers, to which Dr Delbray retorted: “I cannot quite visualise how Concorde or Jumbo jets would land at Kirkwall Airport, can you?” And Mr Milligan replied: “I was not mentioning any particular type of aircraft.”

But this week Mr Gerrard, who would have responsibility for the evacuation, said: “It didn’t make a great deal of sense and it’s a marvellous piece of buck-passing.”

50 Years Ago

Since 1946, Zetland County Council has provided 255 houses for general needs. So reported Mr W. L. Hastings, county sanitary inspector, in his annual report, which was before the County Council recently.

Mr Hastings observes that provision of suitable housing accommodation is one of the local authority’s more important activities. The basis of policy has been the provision of municipal houses and to encourage private owners to erect new buildings or modernise their houses by aid of grant schemes under the Housing Acts.

Much of his department’s time was incurred investigating applications and interviewing tenants for municipal houses. This difficult, and in many instances, thankless task is an unenviable one, as it is natural for every applicant to think his own case to be in most need of consideration. An entirely neutral attitude is always maintained by the sanitary inspector when submitting reports for the authority’s consideration.

During the last year the remaining 22 of the scheme of 32 four-apartment houses in Scalloway were completed and occupied.

This brings the total since 1944 up to 255, which Mr Hastings describes as a praiseworthy effort to alleviate the housing problem which faced the country immediately after the World War II, more so when it was remembered that the landward area of Shetland was essentially rural.

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We regret to announce the death at his home at Brough Lodge, Fetlar, on Monday night of Sir (Harold) Stanley Nicolson, 12th Bart. of that Ilk and Lasswade, at the age of 77. The funeral took place in Fetlar yesterday afternoon.

With Sir Stanley dies the Baronetcy first created 332 years ago, for he leaves no heir. He is survived by his widow, formerly Miss Jean Landles, and he was the only hereditary title-holder resident in Shetland. Sir Stanley succeeded to the title in 1952, on the death of his elder brother, Sir Arthur.

He was one of the family of three sons and one daughter of the late Sir Arthur Thomas Bennet Robert Nicolson, and was, in fact, that last survivor – his brothers Arthur and Lionel predeceased him some years ago, while his only sister, Vera, Lady Herschell, died only a few months ago. His sister’s death was a great blow to him, and he had been in failing health since then, although he has only been ill for a few weeks. His end late on Monday night was sudden and peaceful. Lady Nicolson and Mr John Scott, the island missionary, were with him at the time.

100 Years Ago

Opening of the New Roman Catholic Church – The new Roman Catholic Church in Lerwick was formally opened for worship on Sunday last. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Chisholm, Aberdeen, who was accompanied by the incumbent, Father McQueen, Inverness, and by Father Maurus Caruana, or Malta, who was the preacher of the day.

The church, which is a very finely built and fitted structure, erected on Albany Street at its junction with Harbour Street, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord and to St Margaret, Queen Patron of Scotland. In the sanctuary has been erected a magnificent altar from Antwerp, constructed of solid oak. The centre panel is a reproduction of the painting, “Our Lord’s Last Supper,” by the famous artist Leonardo da Vinci. The tabernacle in the centre is made of solid brass, one panel of which has the lamb, and the other a pelican feeding its young. This tabernacle was the gift of Mrs Hacon, Dornoch. Above is a magnificent crucifix, also of brass. Three statuettes are placed on either side of the tabernacle – on one side the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ; St Andrew, the Apostle of Scotland; and St Magnus; and on the other side St Joseph; Queen Margaret, Queen and Patron of Scotland; and St Columba. Before these are placed six solid brass candlesticks, which harmonise well with the solidity of the rest of the altar. The sides of the altar are ornamented with finely constructed wings. A thick green carpet covers the floor of the altar and the steps leading up to it.

At the other end of the building, under a window, is placed a memorial stone of white marble edged with black, on which is the following inscription: “In affectionate and grateful memory of Margaret Cruickshanks, a large-hearted and munificent benefactress to this church, who died on 26th December 1910. We loved her in life. Let us not forget her in death. Pray also for our other kind benefactors: their name is legion.” This part of the building is adorned by an exact replica of the statue by Michael Angelo in St Peter’s at Rome, entitled “God descending from the Cross.”

The church was opened for worship on Sunday last at eleven a.m., in the presence of a large congregation. For the occasion it was beautifully decorated with flowers, some of which were the gift of Mrs Hacon, while Mr Hyslop lent others. Bishop Chisholm knelt before the altar and offered up a dedicatory prayer. Afterwards in a short address he expressed his gratification at and his congratulations for the good work which had been done. It had been a labour of love to Father McDonald. They all knew the difficulties Father McDonald had had to encounter in the work of his priesthood amongst them in these islands. This must be a very happy day to them, and a day upon which they would all congratulate themselves upon the completion of this good work. And he himself certainly did congratulate the good priest on what he had done, and upon the successful realisation of his most ardent wishes. He would like to thank all those who had contributed to this work, those within the fold and those outside who had helped, and he had to thank the architect for this very pretty and very handsome and very elegant church which had been created under the auspices of Father McDonald, and also he would like to thank the contractor.

The service was then proceeded with. Hymns were sung by an excellent choir, and Father Maurus Caruana preached an eloquent sermon upon the sacrifice of the Mass. At the conclusion the Sacrament was dispensed.


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