Times Past

25 Years Ago

Hundreds of boxes of saithe have been dumped from Shetland boats this week – because of Government laws designed to “conserve” stocks.

Now the Shetland Fish Producers Organisation has called for a realistic sectoral saithe quota for Shetland to stop the waste.

No definitive figures are available of how much saithe has been dumped, but with local boats allowed only a 15 per cent by-catch it is likely that several hundred boxes have been dumped in the last few days.

SFPO chief executive Mr John Goodlad explained to The Shetland Times this week that Shetland has been offered a sectoral quota for saithe this year, but the total figure was so small that the SFPO had turned down the offer.

The figure Shetland had been offered, Mr Goodlad said, was based on the amount of saithe Shetland boats had caught over the past five years – for the bulk of that period Shetland boats had not caught a great deal of saithe. But over the last two years, with more efficient boats and greater demand on all species, the Shetland landings of saithe had increased dramatically.

The Government’s 20,000 tonne quota for saithe has recently been used up, and now Shetland boats are allowed to catch no more than 15 per cent saithe in any haul of white fish.

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Tangible plans for a new Shetland Museum are still a long way off, and the curator’s annual report makes fairly gloomy reading, with talk of overcrowding and understaffing in the museum.

Curator Mr Andrew Williamson presented the written report to the SIC library and museum sub-committee last week. Members were disturbed that “two persons are doing four persons’ work, and the standard of attention we are able to give visitors has inevitably deteriorated”, according to the report.

Assistant curator Mr Tommy Watt told sub-committee members that the staffing problem has been temporarily relieved by employing a summer student, and a retired former employee coming in when required.

Members agreed to recommend to the education committee that a trainee should be appointed to help solve the problem – but the committee rejected a similar idea earlier this year, due to a tight budget.

Understaffing problems have also led to security problems in the museum in the past year, according to the report. The problem was highlighted when, in February this year, a £3000 model ship was stolen from the museum and was later recovered, damaged beyond repair.

The sub-committee members agreed to recommend that a one-way glass panel be added to the curator’s office, and that the museum should rent a closed circuit television system.

50 Years Ago

Lerwick Sheriff Court was the scene on Friday of an occasion believed to be unique in the annals of Scottish legal history – the installation of a new Sheriff-Principal and a new Sheriff-Substitute at the same sitting.

The new Sheriff-Principal of Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland, is Mr Harold R. Leslie Q.C., who is no stranger to the islands. He is an Orcadian, and contested Orkney and Shetland in Labour’s interest at the 1950 election. Until now he has been a Sheriff of Roxburgh, Berwick and Selkirk.

The new Sheriff-Substitute is Mr Alistair A. Macdonald, an Edinburgh advocate, who is now the youngest man to sit on the Scottish Bench.

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Local drama enthusiasts will be interested to hear of the success of a former Lerwick amateur actress who is literally “going far” in the drama movement in New Zealand.

She is Mrs Greta Leask (formerly Miss Greta Coutts, Hillhead, Lerwick), who is now a member of the Tawa-Linden Drama Group which entered a play, “The Scarecrow,” in the Wellington festival of drama last month. Mrs Leask played the part of the girl with a Highland accent.

To the amazement of the group they were placed first for the Wellington area and presented with the A Grade Cup.

This meant they had to go forward to the divisional finals at Hamilton – a journey of 360 miles, where they were faced with the Auckland and Bay of Plenty finalists.

Again to the group’s amazement they were placed first, and next week they appear in the Dominion finals at Hastings. The adjudicator likened their play to “a perfect jewel of a water colour, with that essential touch of magic”.

100 Years Ago

Gored by a Bull at Gutcher – Heroic Rescue – Mr William Inkster of Gutcher, with his usual generous heart, obliged a friend by consenting to allow a young horned bull to graze on his land, preparatory to its deportation to its destination. Although belonging to North Yell, it was sent to Gutcher, because the pier there is specially adapted for the easy shipment of cattle.

On Thursday of last week, Mr Inkster resolved to place a stronger tether on the animal, which was grazing outside the school wall. Proceeding from his croft, which adjoins the school, to the place where the bull was tethered, he adjusted the stronger one, and was bending down to drive in a heavier stake in the ground, when he was suddenly charged by the bull and rendered unconscious. Everything was quiet in the village – men and women had returned from the field for their mid-day meal.

A man (David Henry) who is not in good health and lived near the school, happened to pass the north wall of the school, and looking along the east wall was surprised to see the white hair of a man outstretched on the grass, whilst a bull was proceeding to gore him. Although in weak health himself, he rushed to the rescue, unarmed. The distance would be about 50 yards, and, providentially, on the way he picked up a large piece of wood, and ran to the scene. Here he saw his friend William Inkster lying apparently lifeless, and covered with blood, whilst a fierce brute was doing its best to gore him to death. Not hesitating one moment, Henry endeavoured to defend his friend, and strike a fatal blow at the animal, but unfortunately the brute was too cunning for this. Charge after charge it made at the fallen man, only to be driven back by the blows of David, whose cries for help could not be heard. Not being successful in stunning the animal, Henry had done the next best thing, he had attracted the attention of the bull from the prostrate man.

The now maddened animal, bleeding from its horns, turned upon its assailant, and striking him on the ribs David fell and rolled down a slope, closely followed by the bull. The animal attracted away from Inkster, who lay almost lifeless at the school wall, seems to have become somewhat bewildered, and David, conscious that the bull was no longer prodding him, got to his feet, and with difficulty, managed to reach Inkster’s dyke with the animal close at his heels. Gaining the road his cries for help had now attracted numerous neighbours, who rushed to the spot to find to their sorrow the prostrate body of one of the oldest, kindest, and best respected neighbours weltering in his blood.

Unhinging a door from a neighbouring shop, the son and friends lifted Inkster and carried him home. A doctor was hastily summoned, and as quickly as possible arrived at the house. He found that life still existed, but that Mr Inkster had his ribs broken and a large wound on each thigh caused by the horns of the bull. The loss of blood had been great, even the grass at the place of the combat being saturated. Mr Inkster remained for days unconscious, with Dr Taylor in constant attendance. Though yet weak, he is now recovering slowly.


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