Times Past

25 Years Ago

Despite a recommendation from the SIC’s planning department that the council go ahead with the huge office complex at Hayfield, and the pressure from council officials who complain of their present cramped working conditions, councillors at Wednesday’s planning committee meeting deferred making a final decision.

They will be holding a special meeting to hear public concern about the plans. Wednesday’s meeting was presented with a petition opposing the Hayfield plans signed by almost 50 local residents and a series of letters from individuals.

Councillors heard from depute planning director Mr Jimmy Anderson that there was “no question” that there would not be inconvenience caused to local residents. “But if you want to accommodate all your staff it’ll have to be big. I can’t think of an alternative site in Lerwick.” He added that the development would be Shetland’s biggest office block and there would undoubtably be a significant increase in traffic.

But Mr Anderson hoped the widening of Hayfield Lane would ease potential traffic problems and the question of whether or not Hayfield House should be demolished was “not really relevant at this time”. He explained that the council was considering granting outline planning permission for new council headquarters, not the demolition of Hayfield.

Although the department was in favour of going ahead with the £10 million plans, Mr Anderson recognised that “there’s no way we can build it without fairly severely inconveniencing people for a fair period of time.”

The department recommended, however, that the height of the building be reduced from the original plan of five storeys to three storeys, and that the office complex should be surrounded by a “buffer zone” 15 metres wide, on which there would be no buildings.

Mr Bill Smith, councillor for Lerwick Central, wondered if councillors had realised the scale of the development. “We have to think about it from the point of view of people living in nearby houses. It would be wrong to think about granting outline permission until this has been thoroughly aired.”

Councillors agreed that a final decision should be deferred until after a public meeting. They also supported a suggestion from Dr T.M.Y. Manson that the council should examine alternative sites – he mentioned to the north of Clickimin and another in Gremista as possibilities.

50 Years Ago

Members of Yell District Council are seriously perturbed about the possibility of increased unemployment on the island when the quarry at Warbeck, Cullivoe, is closed down.

This matter was discussed at a recent meeting of the Council attended by the two county councillors for the district.

It was stated that the road tarring programme in Yell is likely to be completed within the next year, and this will likely lead to the loss of employment for about thirty men.

The District council decided to write to the County Council regarding the situation, suggesting that instead of importing chips into the island the possibility of opening a quarry at Burravoe should be considered. Members contended that this quarry could easily provide the necessary stone for road widening, passing places, etc.

The need for an extension to the present pier at Ulsta was stressed. Members described this pier as the lifeline link for hospital cases, and they wanted the extension proposal to be divorced entirely from the larger question of the long-term north isles transport system.

It was stated that recently great difficulty had been experienced in getting hospital cases on board the boat, while there were no proper facilities for disembarking passengers.

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Our Readers’ Views In my opinion those who guide our spiritual and material affairs are making too much of an issue concerning teenage drunkenness. Adventurous youth is bound to be a bit wild – after all, are we not continually reminded of our Viking ancestry? Drunks are a pest at any age, but what preachers and politicians – who always appear so ignorant of human nature – fail to realise is that the more you nag a person, especially a young one, the more stubborn he gets. It is natural for youth to kick against petty restrictions and more rules imposed only means more rules broken.

In any case, as all normal people know, the drunken brute of today is the fanatical pussy-foot of tomorrow – anyone who wants proof of that is welcome to have a look at some of the names on the various petitions of which I have quite a collection, and at the present rate of “conversion” there will soon be no revelry at all to worry about.

Hayfield Hotel, Lerwick.

100 Years Ago

Proposed Home for Fishermen at Lerwick – For some time past – in fact, since Lerwick became the headquarters of English fishermen during the months of the great herring fishing – those who have felt themselves responsible for the material and spiritual welfare of the great army of men who follow that calling, have realised that Lerwick’s greatest want has been a place which could be recognised as a home for fishermen, who might, by any chance, be incapacitated from following their calling for even a short time. With a view to remedying this state of matters, the gentlemen who recently formed the deputation to Shetland in connection with the Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, after surveying the various places in Lerwick near the sea shore and finding it impossible to secure a suitable site for the erection of a home for fishermen, have turned their eyes on Fort Charlotte, and are now anxious to secure the large drill hall for the purpose of carrying out their philanthropic work among the toilers of the deep. With a view to bringing the needs of the community before the powers that be, they have addressed the following petition to the Lords of the Admiralty: – “We, the undersigned, on behalf of ourselves and other fishermen, appreciate very highly the interest the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen has shown in procuring for use the only available Hall able to be hired in Lerwick, small as it is, for dressing of cuts and bruises, etc., with facilities for writing and reading, including refreshments. We realise the difficulty experienced in finding any site near the Fish Market and quay for a suitable building. Hearing of one in the best position, which might possibly be granted to the Society of which the King is Patron, the first act after His Most Gracious Majesty’s Coronation being on behalf of this Mission, by laying the foundation stone of a Home for Fishermen and Sailors in St John’s, Newfoundland, we do earnestly desire to be allowed respectfully to approach the Lords of the Admiralty through the Society, in the following circumstances. At the Lerwick Fort there stands dismantled and disused for the last year a large Hall, which would enable the Mission to provide most kindly for us here what it does at sea by means of its Hospital Mission Ships. There is no chance at present of the Lerwick Hospital being enlarged in order to accommodate the many cases brought ashore, some proving fatal in consequence, the small cottages being too full in the fishing season to admit of proper treatment in tiny overcrowded bedrooms. We seek without delay for the Society a place where they would have space for beds for the men and a home for their representatives in charge of the work, as well as rooms for services and meetings, the splendid building aforesaid affording means for all that is needed. We humbly pray that the Lords of the Admiralty may enable the Mission to looks after us, fishermen, in this way, for which we should be found most truly grateful, feeling as we do constantly, what a blessing this would prove to the thousands of us so far away from our homes.”

This petition has been very largely signed by the stranger fishermen presently at Lerwick, and will be forwarded to the Lords of the Admiralty in due course.


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