Times Past

25 Years Ago Major changes at the Post Office could mean the loss of six jobs in Shetland. A big re-organisation of services throughout the country is forcing many staff to move to new workplaces – and Lerwick Post Office must take its share, said a management spokesman.

The shake-up has already resulted in Postmaster Mr Bill Hadden being transferred to Elgin and another 14 counter and administrative workers have been given forms asking them to state a preference for transfer.

They have not been told, however, what will happen if they refuse to move. It could mean having to leave Shetland if they want to continue working for the Post Office.

Mr Alex Paton, local representative of the Union of Communications Workers, told The Shetland Times this week that there was “a lot of talking” to be done.

“There are many questions to be asked”, he said. “We only really learned what the plans would mean at the start of the week.”

The changes result from a major reorganisation of the Post Office, which made a £134 million profit last year. There will now be separate operations for counter services, letters and parcels and job re-allocations are inevitable, said a management spokesman.

Workers in Lerwick have been told there are now five or six too many counter and administrative staff. Postmen and women are not affected, though.

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The centrepiece of Lerwick harbour at the weekend was the handsome Norwegian sail-training ship Sorlandet. The white-painted three-master docked at Victoria Pier on Friday evening and was open to the public on Sunday afternoon before sailing for Kristiansand on the last leg of her summer cruise.

The Sorlandet was built in 1927 and was used as a training ship by the Royal Norwegian Navy until the invasion in 1940. After the war she was restored but fell into disuse again and it was not until the late 1970s that the ship was completely refurbished and re-rigged. She is now owned by the non-profit making Sorlandet Trust and her crew of 19 run courses for up to 70 trainees of all ages.

50 Years Ago

Sheriff-Substitute R. J. Wallace retired from his position on Monday of this week, after over 26 years on the Shetland bench – a record unequalled by any of his predecessors.

Sheriff Wallace presided over his last public court sitting on Friday forenoon, when he intimated his retiral.

He said it had been a very pleasant thought to take away with him that the relations between bench and bar had been consistently of a most friendly nature during the 26 years and four months he had occupied the bench.

He had been very fortunate in having the most invaluable services of the sheriff-clerk, Mr R. A. Johnson, during his entire term of office. The procurator-fiscal, Mr L. H. Mathewson, had been prosecuting for the Crown during a similar period with that moderation which seemed to characterise prosecutors who acted under the Crown.

He could also congratulate Mr Peter Goodlad on having endured the Sheriff’s period of service, and on having frequently appeared in court during that time. The other members of the bar had joined at various times since, and he thanked them all for the way they had conducted their cases.

He also had to thank the other court officials including the deputy fiscal and the deputy sheriff-clerk for their services, and Zetland Constabulary for their co-operation and friendly relations.

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When the nation’s economic situation was debated in the House of Commons last Wednesday, Mr Jo Grimond, the local M.P. and Liberal party leader, naturally had some comments to make.

Following after a Tory M.P. Mr Birch, of West Flint, Mr Grimond said: If the speech we have just listened to was not preaching, I do not know what was. Mr Birch must be a slightly awkward ghost to his own Front Bench. When we hear of a seven per cent Bank Rate and of vigorous attempts to stop government expenditure from rising further, our minds go back to his days, because all this has been said before. What has been the result? Here we are, back to the same old position and hearing the same old speeches from the government.

The Right Hon. Gentleman accused some people of telling the same joke three times. I have heard this speech many more times than three. I remember the present Minister of Aviation, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, saying that we were trying to do too much. We suggested to him that we should give up making the hydrogen bomb, but we are still making it. Who has been in charge of this country for ten years? If we are trying to do too much, whose fault is it?

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Hundreds of people turned out in brilliant weather conditions on Wednesday afternoon to witness the naming ceremony and service of dedication of Aith’s new lifeboat, “John and Frances Macfarlane,” at Gudataing Pier, Aith. Over a hundred cars were parked in the vicinity of the pier.

The boat is the gift of Mr John Ewing Macfarlane and his wife Mrs Ann Frances Macfarlane, after whom the boat has been named. It was Mrs Macfarlane who performed the ceremony in a most gracious manner.

100 Years Ago

A Visitor from Nova Scotia – Descended from Lerwick Parents – The grandson of one of the sons of Lerwick, who was taken by the press-gang in 1798, is presently on a visit to Shetland, his object being to see the birth-place and to glean what information is obtainable of his mother’s father. The name of the visitor is Mr Hugh T. Whitford, and he arrived at Lerwick on Tuesday morning. He was born in Chester, Nova Scotia. He is a descendent of one of the founders of Liverpool, N.S., from Rhode Island. He can trace his descent from an ancient Scottish family, who suffered the loss of everything during the Cromwellian times on account of their allegiance to King Charles I. He was the contributor of the articles in the “Dictionary of National Biography” relating to Colonel Walter Whitford, and his father, Bishop Walter Whitford of Brechin. They were very brave and determined men, and so was the father of the bishop named Adam Whitford who was put to the rack to confess having conspired against Morton, the Regent of Scotland, but without avail – the accusation being false.

Mr Whitford was present with the Colonials on July 30, at the special service of the University of Aberdeen on the visit of the representatives of His Majesty’s Dominions beyond the Seas, which was most impressive and long to be remembered. He particularly noted the motto over the vestibule of the university – “They haif said, Quhat say thay? Let thame say.” He considers this sentiment very Scottish and characteristic.

An account of Mr Whitford’s maternal grandfather is given in Des Birsay’s “History of Lunnenburg County.” It states – “Two of the crew of the La Hogue, by permission, left that vessel at Halifax and went to Windsor. The ship having been ordered home sooner than was expected they were left behind. One of them, John Erasmus Anderson, who had been armourer on board the La Hogue, was born at Lerwick, and was pressed into the service at the age of 12 years. He bought a piece of land, settled at Windsor, and there married. Subsequently to his wife’s decease, he removed to Chester, where he again married. Mr Anderson was an ingenious worker in brass and iron, and made the most delicate surgical instruments. Some of his recollections of his early days were very interesting. He frequently referred to the pious teachings of his mother in the far-off Shetlands, remembering particularly one oft-repeated remark made while washing him, “Johnny, I can wash your body, but only God can wash your heart.” He died at Chester, where his daughter and grand-children resided until their removal to Bridgewater.”

The father of John Erasmus Anderson was Andrew Erasmuson, blacksmith in Lerwick, a notable man in his day. He is referred to in one of Miss Chalmers’ poems in the following terms: – “Ere to the artizans I bid adieu, One grand achievement presses on my view, The ‘Tongue of Time,’ which marks the fleeting hours, And on the mind impressive feeling pours, Aptly in all its various parts design’d By Thule’s self-taught artist formed we find.”

(Address to the United Trades Society of Lerwick, 1813) A note explains that the phrase “Tongue of Time” refers to a clock constructed by Andrew Erasmuson, blacksmith, Lerwick, who enjoys no advantage from education or any aid, except that derived from native genius.


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