Times Past

25 Years Ago

The receiver appointed at Reawick Lamb has held out hope for crofters and farmers who have been left with no realistic market for their lambs following the closure of the slaughterhouse.

Shetland Islands Council was asked to consider a proposal from the receiver Mr Paul Finn of Hodgson Impey that the council should underwrite the cost of re-opening the slaughterhouse to allow the killing season to be completed.

Mr Finn said: “I have met with representatives of the farming community and the council. There is an urgent need to slaughter these animals. My dutues are clearly defined and I am not allowed to take risks but if the council are prepared to underwrite the re-opening of the abattoir then the slaughtering can recommence.”

Mr Finn met with the steering group of the co-operative which it was proposed would take over the running of Reawick Lamb which went into receivership when the SIC withdrew its financial support last week and refused to underwrite its overdraft.

Steering group member Mr Lollie Graham said: “Our most urgent concern is to see that the killing season is completed. We only hope that some way is devised to sort out the problem with lambs which have not been slaughtered yet. It all seems to be in the hands of the SIC. It would be cruelty to keep the lambs on when there is no pasture for them.”

The long-term future of the Westside slaughtering operation and the proposed £2.5 million EEC slaughterhouse is still in the balance.

Mr Graham said: “It will be the second week in November before the co-op can be formed and we cannot take any more steps at the moment.” Mr Finn is thought to be considering at least one offer for the business from outside Shetland.

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The Hughes Food Group, which bought Shetland Fish when it went into receivership earlier this year, are now believed to be serious contenders to take over Scalloway-based Iceatlantic.

The SIC’s charitable trust agreed in principle to sell its 47 per cent share in the company to the Cleethorpes-based Hughes group, if the price is right.

However, the English company are still waiting for official confirmation of the council’s decision before they can proceed with their bid.

Hughes have also been in negotiation with Highlands and Islands Development Board who have a 25 per cent share in the company and Mr Gordon Davidson of Glasgow who owns an 18 per cent share. If all three parties sell Hughes will have a 90 per cent interest in the company.

Hughes’ financial director Mr Andy Johnson said: “The Iceatlantic plant is on an ideal site and has a lot of potential.”

It is believed the group intend a £250,000 investment programme in Iceatlantic if their bid is successful. It is also understood that both the SIC and HIDB have asked to have the option of repurchasing the shares if Hughes deided to pull out of Scalloway in the future.

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Shetland’s doctors have asked the health board to reconsider the first phase of the £4m extensions to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

A special meeting of the area medical committee, after hearing the views of Dr Jill Macdonald, chief administrative medical officer, and Mr Alastair Coutts and Mr John Parkin, the consultant surgeons, agreed unanimously to recommend against going ahead with the £2.5m first phase of the hospital for which tenders are due to be opened next month.

The reasons were that neither of the two consultant surgeons was given the chance to comment on the proposals before the health board approved them; the development of phase one “would not significantly improve patient care”; the “most pressing” needs at the hospital, for new laboratory and physiotherapy space, were not included in phase one; and the the development did not address “the more urgent need for better provision for the frail elderly in Shetland, many of whom being at present inappropriately housed in the acute beds of the Gilbert Bain Hospital.”

50 Years Ago

Mr Jo Grimond, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has seen the Secretary of State for the Colonies Mr Maudling about the future settlement of the people of Tristan da Cunha.

Mr Grimond emphasised any scheme to resettle them would need to be well thought out and adequately financed. It would only be worth undertaking if the people of Tristan da Cunha wanted to settle in the area and if the Government were willing to sponsor an all-round scheme for the rehabilitation of some district.

As there was already unemployment in the two counties, the scheme would have to be accompanied by an increase in employment. But to merely put the Tristan da Cunha people down in an area without a proper scheme might simply swell the ranks of the unemployed and lead to further depopulation through failure.

Mr Grimond and Mr Maudling discussed various areas, such as Yell, North Roe and other parts of the Shetland mainland and North Isles and Scapa Flow areas of Orkney. He felt the best type of employment was an extension of fishing.

Mr Maudling said the Tristan da Cunha islanders wanted to take a little time to look round. Meanwhile they would be established in an army camp in Surrey. He pointed out they knew nothing about conditions of life in this country and had never seen such things as railways or a telephone.

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Of 180 babies born in Lerwick during the first nine months of this year, only one arrived in the home of the parents – all the other confinements have been in the maternity annexe of the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Figures for the third quarter of the year show that there were 59 births, 30 deaths, and 29 marriages registered in the district.

Of the 59 births, 30 were males and 29 females; there was one illegitimate and one still birth. One of the confinements took place at home.

Of the 30 deaths, 17 were male and 13 female. Six were aged between 60 and 69, seven between 70 and 79, ten between 80 and 89, and two were over 90.

100 Years Ago

A Shetland Passenger’s Luggage – An Interesting Legal Point – In Leith Sheriff Court on Tuesday an important decision, affecting shipping companies that conduct passenger trade, was given by Sheriff-Substitute Guy. James Robertson, residing at 17 Citadel, sued the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., for £14 6s 6d, which sum, he averred, was due by defenders to him for the value of a bag and contents belonging to him, which he had shipped as luggage on board the steamer St Ninian, at Aith, Shetland, for delivery at Leith. It was properly addressed, he averred, and duly delivered to defenders and placed in the ship’s hold, under a contract of carriage between him and the defenders. The bag and its contents were alleged to have disappeared.

Pursuer stated that on 15th August he arranged to send the bag as luggage on board the St Ninian at Aith, his intention being to sail to Leith from another port on a subsequent date. He was working alongside the St Ninian at Aith, taking the goods from her to the shore. His luggage was addressed, “James Robertson, passenger to Leith, ss. St Ninian,” and it was placed in the after hold of the vessel. He was not told that he would require to pay carriage nor had he heard of any charge being made for seamen’s luggage from the west coast of Shetland to Leith. He would have been quite willing to pay carriage if he had been asked to do so. He understood defenders had a lockfast place in their shed at Leith for the storage of luggage. He had occasion previously to send luggage in this way and had gone to the shed for a fortnight, or even a month afterwards for it. He was never asked for any charge for storage on that occasion. He never saw any conditions on the sailing bill to the effect that passengers must look after their own luggage and that the company were not responsible for it. He did not think he was entitled to go into the after hold of the vessel.

For the defence, Mr McCallum, agent for defenders at Leith, said the passenger tickets issued by defenders contained the following: “This ticket is issued subject to all of the conditions mentioned on the handbill, and the company is not liable for any injury, loss, delay, or accident to luggage.” The handbill referred to stated: “Passengers must look after their own luggage, the company not being responsible for any damage unless properly addressed and booked as cargo”; it would be entered in the manifest, and freight paid on it.

Mr Slater, purser on board the St Ninian, remembered seeing a bag addressed “James Robertson,” when he was down in the hold at Aith, and he assumed at that time that the owner intended travelling on the steamer to Leith, probably joining it at Aith or Scalloway.

The Sheriff-Substitute, in pronouncing decree of dismissal, said pursuer had set forth a contract between him and the defenders to carry his luggage as passengers’ luggage, but the facts were it was not carried as such. Pursuer did not travel as a passenger, and had no contract as a passenger until four weeks afterwards. He thought the end of the contract for passengers and their luggage was when the ship’s hold was opened and the passenger’s luggage laid out. If the passenger had not been on board the steamer at all he could not of course rely on any contract to carry passengers’ luggage nor that part of the stipulation that if the shipping company were to be liable, it must be set as cargo. There was no proper proof either that the bag was not laid out at Leith. With regard to the contents and their value, there was no material for him at all to give decree. He was quite clear that pursuer was not a passenger and he had no contract for passengers’ luggage and for freight, and he did not prove the bag or its contents. Defenders were granted expenses.


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