Times Past

25 Years Ago

Reawick Lamb closed its doors this week after the receiver was called in by the directors and the bank.

Amid bitterness and recrimination between the SIC and the company and the agricultural community, many crofters and farmers have not been paid for animals sent to Reawick. They also face the problem of disposing of the animals while the company’s 16 employees, who are all owed wages, face the dole queue.

Yesterday the company’s directors met the 16 strong workforce, who have been working for the past week with little hope of payment, to tell them that, following a special meeting of the SIC which had refused to make £77,000 available to underwrite the company’s overdraft, the Bank of Scotland had called in the receiver.

The manager of the Bank of Scotland, Mr Rodger McArthur, said the directors of the company “asked us to appoint a receiver which was the only thing they could legally do. We are disappointed that it has come to this because we have had a long association with them and enjoyed a good working relationship. I think they felt they had no alternative”.

The news has been greeted with dismay by the crofting community as Reawick is the biggest buyer of Shetland hill hog lambs.

Last week the council decided to withhold £77,000 of a £100,000 grant which has to be used as working capital until the slaughtering season ended.

A series of meetings followed which culminated in a letter from the chairman of the Reawick Lamb Marketing Company, Mr John Scott, asking the council to decide by mid-day on Wednesday whether to honour its £77,000 commitment in two instalments of £58,000 and £19,000; to make £75,000 available to reduce the £150,000 overdraft and a commitment to purchase Stump Farm at a future date for no less than £75,000. He also asked them to reaffirm the commitment to develop a new EEC standard slaughterhouse at Stump Farm.

Blaming the council for the crisis in confidence over the company’s financial position, Mr Scott said that if the council did not agree to the terms the company would be wound up.

50 Years Ago

Lerwick lifeboat and the Norwegian rescue ship Haakon 7 spent over twelve hours at sea yesterday, vainly searching for the source of a series of red distress rockets which attracted the attention of Fetlar coast watchers in the early hours of the morning. As on previous occasions, the assumption is that these were Red rockets – with a capital “R.”

The two vessels left harbour about 4.30a.m. to investigate reports that red rockets had been fired in a position north-east of Strandburgh Ness, Fetlar. While they were on passage, the Skerries seine netter “St. Clair” headed for the position given. The three craft searched in vain and at noon a Shackleton aircraft from Kinloss was diverted from a training flight to assist them. The Haakon was 20 miles north of Unst, the lifeboat 20 miles east of Fetlar and the aircraft had flown twice over the area before the search was abandoned.

In recent days other lifeboats have been called out in similar circumstances and in previous years both Aith and Lerwick boats have spent many fruitless hours on this type of work. The general assumption is that Russian ships – known to be in the Shetland area at present – use red rockets for inter-ship communication.

Strangely enough, the lifeboat call out came at the end of a very stormy period. The wind rose to gale force last Friday, and it continued blowing fiercely until Wednesday. The air services were cancelled on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and B.E.A. ran a duplicate service yesterday to clear the backlog of passengers. Many intending air passengers used the sea route. Even here there were delays, particularly as far as the St. Clair and the Earl of Zetland were concerned – the Earl didn’t get down from the isles until noon on Sunday, and didn’t leave Lerwick again until Tuesday forenoon. The St. Clair’s Tuesday night sailing was delayed until 8p.m. and it was Wednesday evening before she got to Aberdeen.

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A selection of Shetland knitwear, tweeds and rugs has just ended a most successful twelve month tour of America.

It is about two years since the Scottish Tourist Board got in touch with the Shetland Council of Social Service to see if Shetland would be interested in an exhibition of island products in B.O.A.C display windows in America.

Five Shetland firms took part – Messrs T.M. Adie & Sons, Voe; L. J. Smith, Sandwick; Messrs Shetland Wools, Lerwick; Shetland Woollen Manufacturing Company, Scalloway; and Messrs John Tulloch (Shetland Products), Ltd., Lerwick.

It was in September, 1960, that the articles were sent off from Shetland – transported free firstly by B.E.A., then by B.O.A.C.

Since then the articles have been on sale in B.O.A.C windows. New York was the first stop, then came visits to Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and other places where the Corporation have ground floor premises with suitable windows.

100 Years Ago

Yell School Board – A meeting of the Yell School Board was held at Gardiesting, Mid-Yell, on Thursday, the 12th inst. Present – Dr Taylor (Chairman), Rev. D. Scott, Rev. L. Macfadyen, Messrs P.M. Sandison, John Sutherland, and William Brown.

Before proceeding to business, it was resolved to put on record the Board’s deep regret at the early death of Mr Gilbert Williamson, a respected member of the Board, and to convey to the family an expression of the members’ sympathy.

The minutes of previous meetings having been read and confirmed, the attendance reports for September were submitted, the percentage of attendance for the various schools being as follows: Gutcher, 99.5; Ulsta 98.5; Greenbank, 98; West Yell, 98; Westsandwick, 94.5; North-a-Voe, 94.3; Mid-Yell, 82.7; Burravoe 81.2; East Yell, 79.8.

The Clerk was instructed to send warnings to all making less than 75 per cent of attendance.

The Clerk reported that the plans for Gutcher school enlargement had not been returned from the Department.

Intimation of the following grants were received: Ulsta School, £36 7s 3d; East Yell school, £65 2s 3d; Gossabrough side school, £10 9s.

The Clerk submitted minute of the Education Department of 8th August, providing for grants in aid of Educational expenditure, etc., also circular 445 regarding children sent to Industrial Schools.

Miss Annie Nisbet was appointed teacher of Vatster Side School, and Miss M. Henderson teacher of Gossabrough Side School.

It was agreed to supply tools for Westsandwick school garden.

Subject to the approval of the Department, it was agreed to appoint Mr Charles Brown as monitor at East Yell School.

It was unanimously agreed to appoint Mr Laurence Johnson, Setter, a member of the board in place of Mr Gilbert Williamson, deceased.

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Tragedy at Delting – Crofter Hangs Himself – On Sunday forenoon the quiet district of South Delting was terribly upset when it was learned that Mr Benjamin Johnson, Sursetter, near Voe, had committed suicide by hanging himself early that day in a stable on the croft. The unfortunate man had been in indifferent health for some time, and the only surmise for the rash act was that his failing health had preyed upon his mind until his reason had got unhinged, and while in this condition he ended his life as stated. He seemed to be in his usual state on Sunday morning and was served with tea in bed by his wife, who afterwards went to the kitchen to prepare the breakfast. On returning to the bedroom later, she was surprised to find that her husband had risen and left the house. Between 11 and 12 o’clock a search was made when his wife found him hanging in the stable, suspended by his cravat from one of the rafters. Her cries brought the eldest daughter to her assistance, and he was at once cut down, but life was found to be extinct.

There was no better known man in the parish than the deceased, and his terrible end has cast a gloom over the whole district. He was 49 years of age, and leaves a widow and seven of a family.


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