Whalsay woman pays homage to ancestors with unique creation

As the tall ships have sailed, one smaller edition remains at Shetland museum, a historic model yacht from Whalsay which now has fine lace sails knitted by Angela Irvine.

The Norwind was built by Thomas ‘Tammie’ Bruce before the Second World War, and named after a shipwreck on the east banks of Skaw and Isbister.

The model yacht was built in the design of the schooners Tammie had sailed on in the merchant navy.

Skaw men were the first to build model yachts in Whalsay and Tammie sailed the yacht with his eldest son, also called Tammie, before both going in the merchant navy during the war.

His son was killed in 1940 at the age of just 19 after the Firecrest ship he was on, which was carrying iron ore, was torpedoed off the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. No one survived.

Though Tammie continued to build boats afterwards, he lost interest in sailing following his eldest son’s death.

Norwind builder Thomas 'Tammie' Bruce in his merchant navy attire. 
Norwind builder Thomas ‘Tammie’ Bruce in his merchant navy attire. 

Now, over 80 years later, the Norwind stands in the foyer of the Shetland Museum with fine lace sails made by Mrs Irvine, Tammie’s granddaughter.

“All I could see in my head was this magical elegant, sophisticated ship with Shetland fine lace sails, tying me to the ship along with my grandmother Gracie who knitted fine lace scarves.

“The [sails] would be sea-themed old Shetland Fine lace patterns. How I could make them I did not know, but I would figure it out.”

Read the full story in today’s Shetland Times. 


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