Times Past

25 Years Ago

The SIC is to commission a report on the viability and feasibility of a “roll-on roll-off” facility at Blacksness Pier, Scalloway.

Major Bill Anderson got the go-ahead for the £15,000 study at last Tuesday’s full meeting of the SIC. He said that it was important to have such a facility even if P&O did not make use of it when they introduced a second ship on the Aberdeen to Shetland route. He said: “The Faroe Line and other commercial shipping lines would be interested. The future of freight shipping is in ro-ro and any port which does not have it will become moribund.”

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The “beach” at Hay’s Dock in Lerwick could shortly become a stretch of concrete, providing extra space for Hay & Company’s sawmill operation.

Hays have applied to the SIC for planning permission to infill the western tip of Hay’s Dock, which is currently a rather messy beach. The “beach” is home for various small boats, most of them abandoned.

The total area to be filled in covers about 600 square metres, and Mr Lindsay Aitken of Hay & Company told The Shetland Times that the reclaimed area would provide extra space for working with wood for the sawmill. It would also widen a dangerous corner on the east side of the dock, he said.

Mr Aitken added that the plans would not affect small-boat users, and that most of the beached boats were derelict.

50 Years Ago

On his first visit to Shetland the Swedish Consul General in Britain, Herr Carl Bergenstrahle, has promised to look into the possibilities of persuading Swedish cruising ships to call at Lerwick.

Accompanied by the vice-consul in Shetland, Mr Magnus Shearer, the consul-general was received by the Provost on Monday and also met the vice-chairman and other members and officials of the Harbour Trust. He readily agreed to communicate with Swedish shipping companies when the subject of cruising liners was raised and spoke of a growing interest in short cruises from Sweden to British ports. Mr Shearer had already been in touch with him on the subject.

On Sunday Herr Bergenstrahle visited Unst where the Swedish mission kirk has stood empty and unused for five years. It is now to be wound up and communion silver and other valuables are being retained by the vice-consul until their future is decided. They were handed to the consul by Mr Stephen Saxby and Miss Lorna Saxby, who have followed in the footsteps of their father, the late Dr Saxby, in caring for the Swedish church at Baltasound. The family link with Sweden is of long standing for Dr Saxby was made a member of the Order of Vasa in 1911.

But while the number of fishermen at present visiting Shetland does not justify a special mission, Herr Bergenstrahle found that their welfare was being looked after by another Scandinavian country. In the Norwegian fishermen’s mission in Lerwick he met Swedish fishermen who had been made welcome there while their boats were in port for the weekend.

Herr Bergenstrahle told Mr Shearer that he had enjoyed his first visit and hoped to come back at a fairly early date accompanied by his wife.

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The Department of Health for Scotland is “sympathetic” about the proposed water supply scheme for Foula – but before any grant aid can be considered they want assurances about the island’s future. The matter has been passed to the County Council’s Outer Isles Committee for consideration.

Water supply works were, of necessity, a long-term investment, and, particularly where the expenditure was likely to be heavy, there must be a reasonable guarantee that the benefits to be conferred on the community served would, in fact, continue to be required over the greater part, if not the whole, of the normal life of the scheme – i.e. from fifty years upwards in a scheme of the kind envisaged for Foula.

In the circumstances, it seemed extremely doubtful whether in the absence of a significant change in econmic circumstances the provision of a water supply could assist substantially in arresting the persistent population decline.

100 Years Ago

The Speed Limit – The meeting of the Lerwick Harbour Trust, which took place on Tuesday this week, was largely taken up by the question of drifters exceeding the speed limit within the Harbour. It seems to us a great pity that members of a public board should forget themselves so far as to make direct charges against other members for which there is no foundation whatever, and subsequently have to “eat humble pie” by withdrawing in an unqualified manner all that they had said. As a matter of fact, there was no need for any display of temper whatever at the meeting. Thrice is he armed whose cause is just; and certainly a bad case cannot be bolstered up by bombast.

The question of steam drifters exceeding the speed limit within the Harbour of Lerwick is by no means a new one. It has been brought up season after season for some time, and there is not a fisherman or boatowner frequenting the port, but must be cognisant with the speed limit fixed. It imposes no hardship on anyone, for all are treated alike, and all that is asked of them is, that in the interest of life and property, steam drifters should not exceed a speed of four miles per hour within the harbour limits. During the present season, there have been not a few cases of excess speed, and those “black sheep,” as they are described at Tuesday’s meeting, have been warned time and again by the harbour officials to keep within the speed limit by conforming to the law of the port. That some of them at least have not done so is much to be regretted, for by their going through the harbour at excessive speed they seem to have set an example which others who were formerly obeying the law, have been tempted to follow, and as the Vice-Chairman wisely remarked, there was a danger of the whole matter of speed limit becoming demoralised. The accusation that the Trust was in any way seeking to harass their best customers was childish and nonsensical, and why the representatives of the fish trade should feel irritated or feel cause for friction by the Trust seeking to enforce the port regulations passes our comprehension. All that the Harbourmaster intended to do, according to the letter read at the meeting, was to take the speed of the drifters on a given day. There was nothing extraordinary in such a proceeding, for if these vessels were conforming to the law, there was nothing to fear; and if they were setting the law at defiance, it was the duty of the Harbour Trustees and their officials to see that for such conduct they were brought to book. In other ports throughout the United Kingdom there is no hesitation shown in enforcing the laws of each particular port without the question being raised of whether the offenders are good customers to the port or to the members of the administrative body.


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