Times Past

25 years ago

In the aftermath of the world’s worst civil helicopter disaster at Sumburgh last Thursday the future of the Chinook aircraft in the North Sea is in doubt. The three remaining Chinooks in the British International Helicopter fleet are likely to remain grounded for passenger flights until the findings of an interim report from the Accidental Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport.

A spokesman for the crash investigators said this week that the interim report, for circulation to the operators, the makers and aviation authorities, would be ready “shortly” but he refused to confirm national press reports that it would be produced in a fortnight’s time.

Also in the balance is the future servicing of the oilfields in the East Shetland Basin. Since the Boeing Vertol 234 “Chinook” was introduced five years ago there has been an increasing trend to by-pass Shetland airfields and fly oil workers direct from Aberdeen to the platforms and rigs. A recent survey of passengers’ wishes found a majority in favour of travelling by conventional aircraft as far as possible and keeping the length of the noisy and more dangerous helicopter flights to a minimum.

The Chinook has never been a popular aircraft with the workers who fly the long distance sectors to the offshore oilfields and the latest and worst helicopter disaster appears to have hardened attitudes.

Several local offshore workers who have spoken to The Shetland Times this week declared that they would never fly in a Chinook again. The view of one instrument technician from Lerwick, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, was typical: “Our boys have always hated them,” he said, “because they’re very noisy and very cramped. Some of our people have already told the company that they would prefer not to fly Chinook again. Personally, I would turn down another flight in one.”

:: :: :: ::

Pudsey Bear’s nephew has been kidnapped from his home in Shetland, and smuggled out of the islands to London. And the kidnappers have had the “bear” faced cheek to issue a ransom note.

Readers may remember that Pudsey Bear is due to arrive in Shetland from his home near Leeds next Friday for the Children in Need Appeal.

But just over a week ago, Pudsey’s nephew Fred Bear disappeared from Busta House, where he was staying with his owner Steve Hailwood for two months. An appeal has been launched to raise the ransom.

The ransom note left by the kidnappers – the Black Paw gang – demanded that £5 be donated to the Children in Need Appeal if Fred was to be returned safely. Mr Hailwood understandably needed time to raise that kind of money.

Mr Robin Black, the owner of Busta House, had been away but when he heard of the disappearance he called the police in without paws-ing for thought.

50 Years Ago

Unst, which at present shares the services of a policeman stationed in neighbouring Yell, wants a bobby of its own.

Unst District Council recently asked the Police Committee to station a man in Unst, but it was decided to ask for further details of the circumstances in which the District Council considers it necessary for a constable to be stationed there.

Other Police Committee items: Police clothing costing £272 has been ordered from four South firms.

The Chief Constable was authorised to send one constable on a month’s fingerprint training course in Glasgow.

:: :: :: ::

Shetland Football Association are advertising for a secretary – at a salary of £50 a year. At the annual general meeting of the association on Tuesday it was decided that an honorarium of £15 a year was just not attractive enough – in fact eight people at the meeting were asked to take on the job, including a lady supporter, Mrs Elizabeth Polson, but each one refused in turn.

After a long deadlock, Mr A. Cluness, who had already turned down the job, agreed to act as interim secretary until the results of the advertisement were known, and the meeting was able to continue.

Only about thirty people turned up to the meeting – only ten players amongst them – to see president Wright present the Madrid Cup and the overall trophy to Mr G. Keith, president of Scalloway Football Club, and the inter-county plaques and medals to the county team.

100 Years Ago

Dramatic Performances – It is not often that Lerwick is favoured with a visit from a theatrical company, and the announcement of a visit by Messrs Bell & Routledge’s company of talented artists should give general satisfaction to Lerwick readers. It is four years since the last dramatic company visited Lerwick, and Messrs Bell & Routledge’s company should receive a hearty welcome. This company has been touring the north of Scotland for some time now with great success. After a long and highly successful run in Wick, it came on to Kirkwall, where for the past four weeks crowded houses in the Temperance Hall have been delighted with the performances. Mr Bell, senior, was in Lerwick in the first of this week making arrangements for the commencement of the plays. We understand that when he arrived here, he intended to stop for a period of about seven weeks, and perhaps to produce a pantomime at Christmas, but the charges for the Town Hall, including rent, insurance, gas, etc., were so heavy, that he was forced to limit his booking in the first instance, for one week only. Whether he remains longer will depend on the encouragement he receives from the public, and whether more reasonable terms can be arranged as to the charges for the Hall. The company have an excellent programme for the week, and as each night there will be a different piece produced, there will be no lack of variety, and the whole gamut of feeling will be run – from very grave to very gay – while there will be two such old favourites as “East Lynne,” and “The Octoroon,”played. The other dramas are quite new to Lerwick audiences, with perhaps the exception of “Rob Roy,” which was last played in Lerwick many years ago. We would bespeak a generous support and hearty welcome to this company, for anything should be thankfully received which can in any way relieve the deadly monotony which hangs presently over Lerwick like a pall.

:: :: :: ::

Curious Theological Book Discovered – A meeting of the Edinburgh Bibliographic Society was held on Thursday night in the Philosophical Institution, Queen Street, Edinburgh – the president, Mr W.K. Dickson, in the chair. Mr Gilbert Goudie gave an account of the discovery of a theological work, the existence of which had not been known. It is entitled “The Holy Catholic Church … by a Minister of the Established Church,” and was written by Mr John Mills, minister of Dunrossness and Sandwick in Shetland. It was printed at Edinburgh by John Reid in 1773. Mr Goudie was prosecuting inquiries regarding Mill, when he was shown by an aged parishioner a fragment of a book, without indication of a title, which the old man insisted was from the pen of Mr Mills. No further information could be gathered, but later, when transcribing Mills’s “Diary,” Mr Goudie came upon an entry respecting the work and its nature, and recording the fact of its having been printed. This gave a clue to the title, and after a prolonged search a copy of the book was found. Renewed inquiries in likely quarters, including most of the great libraries, failed to bring another to light, although actually 1000 copies were printed. This unique copy is the only evidence of what was nearly one of the “lost books.”


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.