In Print

Newsprint – 1946

[Despite virtually no mention of Rousay in the Orkney Herald I will continue to scan the newspaper’s pages – just in case something crops up! In the meantime I will include items of interest – such as the return of the Ba’ after its lapse during the war years.]

1946 January 1 Orkney Herald



After having been in eclipse during the six war years, Kirkwall’s age-old street ba’ games, contested between Up-the-Gates and Down-the-Gates, were revived on Christmas Day, to the intense interest of the younger generation who remembered the games only vaguely if they remembered them at all, and of the Servicemen and Servicewomen still in the Kirkwall area. Expectations voiced by some that the pre-war keenness of the games would be lacking, proved to be unfounded, and, last Tuesday, Uppie and Doonie feeling ran as high as ever.

An innovation this Christmas, and in the view of many citizens, not entirely a welcome one, was the provision of a ba’ contest for women, which was played between the boys’ and men’s games. There was considerable opposition to the holding of this game, on the grounds that it world prove to be an undignified exhibition, but notwithstanding a strong rumour which circulated on Christmas Eve to the effect that the women’s ba’ had been cancelled, the game duly took place, although there were a good many ladies who apparently were misled by the rumours and consequently did not turn up to support their side.

Boy’s Ba’ Over Quickly.

The boy’s ba’, thrown up from the Market Cross at 10 a.m. by Mr James D. Nicholson, was over in what must have been almost record time. Very few players had assembled and late-comers on this occasion were certainly caught on the hop, for less than five minutes after the ball had been thrown up the game was over.

A speedy Down-the-Gates youngster, securing the leather from the throw up, dashed down towards Albert Street, where he handed it on to a colleague. Evan MacGillivray, Laing Street, who raced off down into Bridge Street, and covering the remaining distance to the harbour basin in the manner of a rugby three-quarter, set the seal on the Down-the-Gates victory by dropping the ball in the water as required by tradition. He was himself declared the personal winner of the ba’.

The Women’s Ba’.

The women’s contest began at 11.30 a.m., and a good number of the town’s “Amazons” had gathered when the ba’ was thrown up by Mr David Flett, town librarian. Soon after play had commenced, however, there was an extraordinary development, the ball being smuggled out of the ruck of players and “mislaid” by, it is said, some individuals hostile to the women’s game. While the New Year’s Day ball was being procured, to use as a substitute, the missing article was found in the Cathedral churchyard by Mr Eoin Mackay and thrown up anew. From this point the ladies tore into it in a style more reminiscent of the Red Devils at Arnhem than of Kirkwall’s fair sex. No quarter was asked and none given, but there were complaints of too-partisan males taking an active part in the game, and while all of them could not be dealt with, at least one interfering “gentleman” took an aching “lug” home with him to his Christmas dinner.

The Uppies for a while exerted the strongest pressure, and the ball was gradually carried up into Victoria Street, but there the Doonies rallied, and, digging their toes in, damped their opponents’ over-confidence by regaining their lost ground and pushing the ball down past the Market Cross to Castle Street, where the scrum swirled down to Junction Road and an Uppie break-away there took the ball as far as the Police Station before the Down-the-Gates scrambled back into defence.

Play reached a stalemate at the Police Station and the ball had to be thrown up again by Mr Price, jr. Thereafter, with the Doonies resisting grimly, the Up-the-Gates, inspired by the nearness of the Scapa corner, forced their opponents along the road, and another breakaway brought the game to a victorious conclusion just before one o’clock. The ball was awarded to Miss Barbara Yule, of High Street, who had been an outstanding player for the winners.

There was nothing gentle about this contest of the members of the gentle sex, but fortunately none of the participants suffered any hurt beyond scratches and bruises. A couple of players were said to have fainted during the excitement of the scrimmages, but the casualties, for the most part, were confined to permanent waves, hats, scarves, shoes and stockings. Any lady rash enough to venture into the proceedings wearing her best Christmas finery had good cause to regret it.

The Men’s Ba’.

Chief interest, of course, centred on the men’s ba’, which was thrown up at 1 p.m. by Mr W. H. B. Sutherland, chemist, in the presence of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Augmented by Service people and other strangers who had never previously witnessed the unique Kirkwall game, it was one of the biggest “galleries” the ba’ has ever had. There was some surprise, however, that so few representatives of the Services took part in the game itself, and the players were actually fewer than might have been expected, though their numbers increased as the game progressed. There was a considerable number of recruits from the pre-war boys’ games, and Orkney ex-Servicemen were well represented, but one looked in vain for some of the old familiar faces.

Though it was a very keenly-fought struggle there were no unusual incidents such as have marked out some famous ba’ games of the past. Play hung for well over an hour in Broad Street, the players sweating and straining in the drizzling rain till the steam rose from them. The Up-the-Gates made one early effort which carried the ba’ about 20 yards to the “Up” side of the Market Cross, but the Down-the Gates retrieved their position, and from then on they slowly but inexorably consolidated their position. When, shortly after two o’clock the scrum entered Albert Street it was clear that, barring “smugglings” it was destined to be a Down-the-Gates victory. Nevertheless, the Uppies put up a dour resistance, and, first at the Royal Bank, and again at Hourston’s Close, made unsuccessful attempts to break away.

Followed by an ever-growing crowd the Doonies pressed relentlessly on down Albert Street and Bridge Street, and at 3 o’clock the ball was flung into the basin, where, whether by intention or by accident, several players followed it. It was quickly retrieved (likewise the players) and awarded by unanimous agreement to Mr Hector Aitken, engineer, a Down-the-Gates stalwart.

All three of the day’s games were played in miserable weather, and the attendances were, this being considered, surprisingly good.

[The powers that be at the Orkney Herald saw fit not to give any of the New Year’s Day ba’ games any coverage at all. So, Uppie Violet Couper never saw her name in print in that particular newspaper as the winner of the second, and last ever, Women’s Ba’ game! – Doonie Jack Donaldson won the Boy’s ba’, and Uppie John Hourston the Men’s.]

1946 February 26 Orkney Herald

TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS INTERRUPTED. – The recent gale, accompanied by a heavy snowfall, which swept Orkney during the weekend, caused breakages in the telephone system in the county, through fallen poles and wires. For a considerable period on Saturday, Kirkwall Exchange were unable to make any contact with Birsay, Evie, Orphir, Sandwick and Hoy.

STROMNESS – WEATHER. – The weather last week was the worst of the winter. Up to the present, the weather has been, on the whole, extremely fine. Orcadians woke to a white world on Thursday morning, with snow two inches deep everywhere. The rain came on Thursday night and washed all the snow away. Friday was a fearsome day – bitterly cold and rainy. On the night of Friday-Saturday damp snow fell and made a grey, dirty mess of the whole landscape. On Saturday morning the Kirkwall-Stromness road was blocked in parts. The s.s. St Ola set out from Stromness Pier on Saturday morning but made a hasty return. While this is being written (Saturday afternoon) there is no sign of an improvement. If there is no improvement, there will be no Stromness News this week. Clear-blue cold skies and blinding blizzards alternate rapidly.

1946 March 5. Orkney Herald

INTERRUPTED SERVICES. – The heavy snowfall which covered the North of Scotland with a blanket of white, with drifts of several feet, caused widespread dislocation of traffic. County buses were unable to travel, while several out-lying farms were isolated for a short period. The County Council had some snow ploughs on the roads to clear a passage for traffic. Large numbers of army transport were ditched on the ice-bound roads, but fortunately there were no incidents of a more serious nature. Sledges became the main mode of transport in some districts, while, in the town, the youngsters made full use of the facilities provided for tobogganing, mostly at East Road, School Place and the Clay Loan. In Caithness snow ploughs could make little impression on the main roads which remained blocked to traffic for several days.

1946 March 12 Orkney Herald

THE THAW. – The thaw was neither dirty nor protracted; it came and disposed of the snow overnight. While it lay the snow was deep enough. Several funerals – there are always a lot of them at this time of the year – had to proceed to the Churchyard by sledge. The streets of Stromness were in fearful mess on the few days preceding the thaw. No attempt was made to clear the streets, although in Kirkwall a squad of men were engaged in making a clearance. People got a shock on waking up last Friday morning to discover that the snow had come back again – fortunately only a light coating of it, that melted in the sun during the day. The “real thaw” came on Saturday, with an afternoon of drenching rain that cleared off the last vestiges of the snowfall. One result of the very severe weather is that many people are suffering from a mild type of influenza, which necessitates going to bed for a few days in most cases.    

1946 April 16 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FARM. – The recent spell of wet and cold weather has greatly hampered farm work in the fields and suspended sowing operations, but it has helped vegetation and a flush of green has spread over the earth. Now the weather gives promise of a fine period, and all farmers should be sowing this week. The open winter apparently had a bad effect on sheep, and there has been much complaint of mortality in the lambing season as a result. But many lambs are gambolling over the fields.

1946 April 23 Orkney Herald

EGILSHAY – ST MAGNUS MONUMENT. – On April 16th a wreath was placed on the St Magnus Monument, Egilshay. The wreath was given by Miss [Margaret Traill] Baikie, Tankerness. The monument was erected in the year 1937 by the Rector and congregation of the Church of St Magnus the Martyr, by London Bridge, and the minister and congregation of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall.

“ISLAND DIARY” by Islandman. – I think I mentioned last week that the accordion is the favourite musical instrument of Orcadians. In recent years it has completely ousted the fiddle from country weddings, barn dances, and family gatherings.

It is a change in the wrong direction, I can’t help thinking. There must be some reason, however, for the popularity of the “squeeze-box” in Orkney.

The first point to note is that it is a comparatively new instrument, and novelty always attracts. The second point is that it is infinitely easier to master than the violin, which requires a life-time of study.

The third and final point is probably, from our island point of view, the most interesting. The accordion makes more noise than the fiddle. Notice, you readers of old Norse literature, that the Scandinavians and Orcadians of old rarely praised their gods upon stringed instruments. The reason? Why, because the music that came from these old guitars and harps, though very soft and melodious, was in many ways incomprehensible to the Northmen. You cannot spend all your life among howling winds and mournful sea-surges, and hope to develop a taste for soft, dreamy melody.

The Norsemen liked the harsh, stirring music that their horns gave out – the music of their native seas and winds, strident tempestuous music like the Overture to the Flying Dutchman.

The intervening centuries have not changed our tastes. When the accordion reached Orkney – I do not know when, but it cannot be very long ago – our island music-makers received it, with open arms.

Here at last was an instrument they could understand and appreciate. Nowadays, whenever at a country wedding or a barn dance you see the accordionist nursing these “heaving bellows” in his tireless arms (with a glass of foaming home-brew at his elbow), you will understand that this is the translation into twentieth-century art of the winds and waves that rave round our coasts, the cry of the seagulls and the lilting accents of the island people.

And meantime the poor fiddler takes a back seat, and as he scrapes away at his exotic instrument he knows that he is fighting a losing battle.

[In the first six months of 1946 the island of Rousay was not mentioned once in the columns of the Orkney Herald. In the past fortnight every island and mainland parish celebrated Victory Week and took part in Welcome Home functions for their returning servicemen and women. Not a word from Rousay. As we already know, Rousay lost four men in WW2 – but the fate of not a single one of them was recorded by the ‘newspaper’, unlike many of those from other parts of the county.]

1946 May 7 Orkney Herald

STROMNESS – MAY DEW. – Only very few Stromnessians observed the traditional custom this year of going to the slopes of Brinkie’s Brae and washing their faces with May dew in the early morning of May Day. The custom appears to be dying out, which is a pity. Among other things, May dew has valuable cosmetic properties, and is said to give the features of whatever maiden makes use of it, irresistible charm. The dew of Brinkies Brae, say the local old people, is ten times as powerful and beauty-giving as the dew in your back garden. A lot of valuable stuff went to waste this year.

1946 May 14 Orkney Herald

EVIE – ON THE FARM. – The fields which have been under the action of the plough and the harrows during the past weeks have now been nicely neatened off, and the seed is “springing fresh and green.” The soil is in fine condition for the preparation of the turnip crop which now claims attention, but some warm showers would do much good in promoting growth. The weather this month makes the hay crop.

PEATS. – Peat time is here again, and the trek to the hills has begun. The dry bright sunny weather of the past week has been ideal for cutting the turves, and the moors were never in better condition for employing the tusker. With more limited supplies of coal in view, a greater effort than ever will be made to obtain peat fuel this year, and we hope to see at the homesteads bulky stacks as in former days when peat was the sole fuel in the county.

1946 July 1 The Scotsman

SEAWEED SURVEY. – Captain E. E. Fresson of Scottish Airways Ltd., has carried out an aerial survey of banks of seaweed off the Orkney islands with Dr Woodward, Technical Adviser to the Scottish Seaweed Research Association, Edinburgh. Good banks of seaweed were observed off North Ronaldsay, Sanday, Stronsay, Westray and Rousay. The Association are paying the islanders £3 a ton for dried tangles, plus 5s a ton for bundling.

1946 August 6 Orkney Herald


[This column was written by ‘Islandman,’ aka George Mackay Brown, and this particular week’s tale was a brief account of a Sunday afternoon bus trip around the West Mainland. Having explored Birsay the party arrived at the landing stage at Evie. GMB continues…..]

All the party set out in the evening sunlight to inspect the Broch at Aikerness, except me. Though I am interested in a mild way in the lives lived by our pre-historic ancestors, as manifested by the ruins they have left behind them, I admit to a congenital laziness which makes any great walking feat out of the question as far as I am concerned. The broch, they said, was two miles away and more, over the ribbed sea sand.

When they had all gone, and were no more than tiny moving specks against the yellow sand, I climbed on to the top of the bus, and studied with fond recognition the brown hilly outline of Rousay, two miles distant across Eynhallow Sound.

Rousay is another favourite place of mine. I lived there for a month in the summer of 1942; four sunlit peaceful weeks, while Russia was undergoing the great agony of Stalingrad, the first immense birth pains of victory. In gratitude for the happiness Rousay gave me in the days of my extreme youth, I took out my note-book and made a careful sketch of the island, as seen from the Evie landing stage.

The Almighty, however, has not in His infinite wisdom, seen fit to endow me with sketching talent. Had the result been good, I should have asked the Editor to reproduce it for your delectation somewhere in this column. However, it was an abortion that came from my pencil, quite unworthy of a lovely island; and though it remains in my notebook, no other eye but my own fond one will ever look at it…..

1946 August 13 Orkney Herald

FROTOFT GALA DAY – Successful Picnic and Sports. – The annual Frotoft picnic was held at Frotoft School, Rousay, on Friday, 12th July. Although the day was dull, rain did not fall until the sports had ended. After milk and “cookies” had been served at 3 p.m., the sports began. Tea was served in the school about 6 o’clock. After tea Mrs Maclean, Sourin Schoolhouse, presented the prizes to the winners. She was accorded a hearty vote of thanks. Votes of thanks were also given to Mrs Harcus and the picnic committee. Then followed a short programme of songs, dances and recitations by the school children. By 8 p.m. a large company had assembled and dancing was carried on with great zest till 2 a.m., when the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” brought to a close a very enjoyable evening…..

1946 August 20 Orkney Herald


Cattle entries were well maintained, though horses and sheep were fewer than pre-war, at the annual show of Rousay Agricultural Society, held on 6th August in a field granted by Mr Robert Seatter, Banks.

At the Society’s dinner in the evening Sir Basil Neven-Spence, M.P. for Orkney and Shetland, introduced by Mr Moar, president, was accorded musical honours. The singing was led by Mr Stanley Firth. Sir Basil Neven-Spence replied to the toast of his health, proposed by Mr Moar.

The show judges were Messrs P. Davidson, Skaill, Sandwick, and J. N. Flett, Howan, Dounby.

The show arrangements were carried out by Mr Moar, president, and a Committee, with Mr Ronald Shearer as secretary.

Mrs M. Flaws, Store Cottage, formally presented the prizes, and the ladies of the Horticultural Society supplied the judges and committee with teas during the day and the dinner in the evening.

Prize List.

Sheep: – Pair H.B. Ewes – 1 and 2 R. Seatter. Pair H.B. Lambs – 1, 2, 3 and 4 R. Seatter. Best five Lambs – 1 and 2 R. Seatter. – Special Prizes. – Five Lambs – 1 and reserve, R. Seatter. Pair Ewes – 1 and reserve, R. Seatter. Best Sheep – 1 and reserve, R. Seatter.

Cattle: – Calf (1st October) – 1 Mrs T. Inkster, 2 J. Russell, 3 and 4 R. Seatter. Calf (1st March) – 1, 2 and 3 R. Johnston, 4 J. Russell, 5 W. Alexander, 6 R. Seatter.

Polled. – Bull – 1 R. Johnston. Cow – 1 and 2 R. Johnston, 3 C. Flett, 4 W. Corsie, 5 J. Russell, 6 R. Seatter. Three-year-old Cow – 1 W. Corsie, 2 J. Russell. Heifer in Calf – 1 R. Johnston, 2 J. Russell, 3 Inkster Bros. Two-year-old Heifer – 1, 2, 3 and 4 R. Johnston. One-year-old Heifer (1st Oct.) – 1 Inkster Bros., 2 J. Russell, 3 R. Johnston; ditto. (1st Mar.) – 1 Inkster Bros. Two-year-old Steer – 1 and 2 R. Johnston, 3 W. Alexander, 4 W. Corsie. One-year-old Steer (1st Oct.) – 1 R. Johnston, 2 Inkster Bros.; do. (1st Mar.) – 1, 2 and 3 R. Johnston, 4 W. Alexander, 5 and 6 Inkster Bros.

Shorthorn. – Cow – 1 Mrs Mainland, 2 R. Seatter, 3 W. Corsie, 4 J. Munro, 5 J. RusseII. Heifer in Calf – 1 R. Johnston, 2 W. Corsie. One-year-old Heifer (1st Mar.) – 1 J. Munro. Two-year-old Steer – 1 and 2 R. Seatter. One-year-old Steer (1st Oct.) – 1 W. Alexander. One-year-old Steer (1st Mar.) – 1 J. Russell, 2 and 3 Inkster Bros.

Special Prizes. – Best animal in Cattle Section – 1 and reserve R. Johnston. Shorthorn Cow – Mrs Mainland; reserve R. Seatter. Best Cow in Yard – Mrs Mainland; reserve R. Johnston. Best Shorthorn under 2½ years – R. Seatter; reserve R. Johnston. Pair Yearlings – R. Johnston; reserve Inkster Bros. Four Cattle drawn from any section – 1 and reserve R. Johnston. Butcher’s Animal – 1 and reserve R. Johnston. Best Animal in Cattle Section, under £20 rental – C. Flett; reserve J. Munro. Best Animal in Cattle Section, under £12 rental – C. Flett; reserve J. Munro. Cog-fed Calf – Mrs T. Inkster; reserve J. Russell. Best Calf in Yard – Mrs T. Inkster; reserve R. Johnston. Best two-year-old Heifer calved between 1st Jan., 1944 and 1st Jan., 1945 – 1 and 2 R. Johnston, 3 W. Corsie.

Horses: – Mare with Foal at foot – 1 J. Russell, 2 W. Alexander. Draught Mare – 1 and 3 R. Johnston, 2 J. Craigie. Two-year-old Filly – 1 J. Russell, 2 & 3 J. Craigie. One-year-old Filly – 1 R. Johnston. Draught Gelding – 1 Inkster Bros. Two-year-old Gelding – 1 R. Johnston. Foal – 1 W. Alexander, 2 J. Russell. Garron – 1 Inkster Bros., 2 and 3 J. Munro.

Special Prizes. –  Best Animal in Horse Section – 1 and reserve R. Johnston. Best Mare with Foal at foot – J. Russell; reserve W. Alexander. Gelding – R. Johnston; reserve Inkster Bros. Best Foal in Yard – W. Alexander; reserve J. Russell. Best Garron – Inkster Bros.; reserve J. Munro.

1946 August 27 Orkney Herald

ISLAND DIARY (By Islandman). – In the South, especially in England, if you want to take up golf you have to be one of the idle rich. It is almost unthinkable for a working man to contemplate it, unless he decides to starve his wife and children. In most good golf clubs in the South the subscription fees, are, for the poor man, impossibly high.

In Orkney we are fortunate in having three excellent golf courses – Kirkwall, Stromness, and Rousay – which are not beyond the pocket of the poorest message boy. Grainbank (Kirkwall), as a straightforward classic course, is superior to the other two. Stromness and Rousay are more thickly sown with maddening magnificent bunkers, and both command views which for sheer beauty are equal to anything in the country.

Pardon this preamble. What I wanted to say is that I was present as a spectator at the Hamilton Cup competition the other day at Stromness Golf Course, and I did enjoy watching the 25 golfing stalwarts struggling for the Orkney championship.

Ten of the 25 came from Kirkwall, the other fifteen were all Stromnessians. Rousay sent no competitors, as most of her players are too busy these August days in the harvest field. But I’ve seen the Rousay golfers playing, and know that their best players are as good as anything that comes out of Kirkwall or Stromness. Certainly it is true that golf in Orkney is not popular with manual workers – most of the town golfers are clerks and shop-men…..

1946 September 3 Orkney Herald

[Editorial leader article]


Every newspaper, the ”Orkney Herald” included, is essentially a co-operation between those who combine to produce the newspaper, and those who read it.

If any newspaper allows its contents to fall below a certain standard of merit and entertainment, its readers will desert it. If, on the other hand, a newspaper knows what the people want and how to give it to them, that newspaper will prosper.

A newspaper which loses touch with the people is asking for trouble, for it is really the people who mould the shape and editorial policy of every journal.

We want the “Orkney Herald” to be a real co-operative effort between the people of Orkney and ourselves.

Usually the regular readers of a newspaper are content to take what they get and say little. This applies particularly to Orkney readers. The Orkney people are noted for their extreme reticence. They dislike intensely to retail their opinions on any subject whatever. The political persuasions of the average Orkney farmer is usually a shrouded mystery, even to his nearest neighbour.

Occasionally, however, your true Orcadian launches out, and when he does speak he takes good care that nothing is left, in doubt. When an Orcadian pens a Letter to the Editor, he means every word he says.

Not all Letters to the Editor are fit for publication, and we of the “Orkney Herald” could, had we a mind to it, print a best-seller out of letters of the past eighty-five years which we have trembled to reproduce in our columns. But the vast majority of the Letters to the Editor which reach us are printed. We believe that it is right to do so.

The people of Orkney have a right to let their opinions be heard. The “Orkney Herald” is open to anyone who has something to say, unless it is libellous or seditious.

Readers will have noticed that we have no obligation to printing droll and eccentric letters. These are usually of first-rate entertainment value, and the repercussions and echoes usually go on for a few weeks. It has often happened, too, that in the past the overtly eccentric letter has proved with time to contain not a few seeds of genuine wisdom. All this is not to say that we identify ourselves with a certain few very eccentric letters which have appeared in our columns recently.

We invite you, then, to let us know if you think strongly about any matter which affects Orkney and Orkney life. The columns of a newspaper have always been a great winnowing-floor of the truth. For every opinion, no matter how thickly the chaff of irrelevance surrounds it, usually contains a sound kernel of living truth.

[You would think, I’m sure, the above editorial would have provoked some very interesting letters in reply. I’m sure folk did put pen to paper and send their letters off. Unfortunately not one of them found their way into the columns of the weekly newspaper.

I will persevere, and continue to scan each issue from the past, and leap at the chance of extracting any and every mention of…..Rousay – and all the time there isn’t, I will include reports of every-day life in the county I think will interest folk who appreciate Rousay Remembered.]

1946 September 10 Orkney Herald


To Let, with entry at Martinmas 1946, the Farm of LANGSKAILL, ROUSAY, as at present occupied by Mr C. A. M. Sinclair. The farm extends to over 300 acres, with right of grazing on 500 acres of hill. Good housing and suitable to the holding. For further particulars, apply to the Subscribers, who will receive offers up to the 30th September 1946. – T. P. & J. Low, Solicitors, Kirkwall.

[Charles Armit Sinclair was the son of Robert Craigie Sinclair, Sketquoy, and Ann Elizabeth Leonard, Cruannie. He was married to Annie May Robertson, daughter of Hugh Corsie Robertson, South Tofts, Egilsay, later Langskaill, and Mary Ann Marwick, Scockness.]

1946 November 19 Orkney Herald

TEACHERS’ TRIBUTE TO DR. MARWICK. – Teachers from all parts of Orkney attended a presentation in Kirkwall Grammar School on Saturday morning to Dr Hugh Marwick, O.B.E., on the occasion of his retirement at the end of this month from the post of Director of Education and Executive Officer of Orkney Education Committee.

The presentation of a gift of a set of the volumes, ” An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland,” and a cheque was made in the name of the teaching profession in Orkney by Mr John Shearer, M.A., B.Sc., successor (and former pupil) of Dr Marwick.

Joining Mr Shearer in paying tribute to Dr Marwick were Mr J. R. Learmonth, headmaster of Stromness Academy; Miss Robertson, Kirbister, Stromness; Mr Alex Leask, headmaster of Kirkwall Grammar School; Mr A. M. Fotheringhame, Orphir; Mrs McLean, Sourin, Rousay, and Mr Frank Kent, Sandwick.

They spoke of Dr Marwick’s brilliance as pupil, student, teacher, headmaster and school administrator, and referred especially to his researches into the ancient Orkney language and antiquities.

1946 December 17 Orkney Herald


Dear Mr Editor. – May I congratulate you most heartily on the excellence of “The Orkney Herald,” particularly in the last few weeks. Now that war-time restrictions are being removed it is evident that you pursue a very progressive policy, and seek to provide the maximum possible in news and views.

Your paper deserves to be read far and wide! – I wish you a Happy Christmas – and a still wider circulation! – Yours, etc., SATISFIED READER.

[I’m guessing the letter above was written by the Editor himself, or at least a relation of his! It was not inserted in the usual ‘Letters to the Editor’ column. I have scanned every page of every weekly issue of the Orkney Herald for newsworthy events and not one has caught my eye for many months now! No mention of Rousay, little or nothing from Evie, and the rest of the ‘local’ news from other islands and mainland parishes does not warrant reproduction I’m afraid.]

1946 December 21 The Scotsman

MINISTER’S DEATH IN CANADA – Native of Orkney. – The Rev. John Gibson Inkster, a retired Presbyterian Church minister, died at Toronto, Canada, on Thursday from injuries sustained when struck by a car (an Exchange Telegraph message states.)

Mr Inkster was born at [Cogar] Rousay, Orkney, and went to Canada as a young man. He began to educate himself while working on the land. Later he attended M’Gill University.

Returning to Scotland, he studied theology at Edinburgh, and also attended New College, Oxford. His first church was in Bristol. He returned to Canada between thirty and forty years ago and became minister of churches in London, Ontario, and on Vancouver Island. For many years afterwards he was minister of the Knox Presbyterian Church, Toronto. When he retired, in 1940, he went to New Zealand and Australia, with his wife [Alice Rowsome], on Presbyterian business.

While on passage from New Zealand to Australia, in 1941, their ship was torpedoed, but they were rescued and taken back to New Zealand. Mr Inkster was 79.

In Print

Newsprint – 1945

1945 January 2 Orkney Herald


The Editor and Staff of the “Orkney Herald” extend to all readers their heartiest good wishes for heath and prosperity in 1945.

To those splendid men and women who serve in H.M. Forces in all parts of the world with such steadfastness and devotion we say “Good health, good luck and may God bless you and keep you to return, as soon as possible, to all whom you have left behind and whom you hold so dear.

For those who are left at home to carry on their magnificent work for final victory our wish is for continued good health to enable them to supply our fighting men with all they need, so that once and for all the world may be rid of the foul and tyrannical doctrines of Nazism and Fascism.

And lastly, to those who must wait and watch for the return of their dear ones, we say “Be of good cheer and pray for the moment when the sun will shine again to drive away the last dark cloud of war so that Peace may be restored to a battle scarred and agonised world.”

May God be with you in your vigil, and may His blessing be with you in 1945 and always.

1945 January 9 Orkney Herald

STROMNESS NEWS – HOGMANAY. – Hogmanay Sunday was clear and cold. Towards midnight it became overcast and a slight drizzle set in. Quiet reigned during the last hours of the dying year; respect for the Sabbath bred in every British bone restrained any wild outbreaks of feeling. The pious section of the population took in the New Year in church; all other sections, the vast majority, welcomed it wherever they were standing – in dance-hall, canteen, home, or open street. The whisky famine had been mourned far and wide between Christmas and the New Year. Soon after midnight, however, a surprising number of bottles made an appearance – the result, as someone suggested, of hoarding all through the spring and summer. We observed nobody, however, who could be described as hopelessly drunk, and anyone who was inebriated reached that state in a sober dignified fashion, which was quite commendable. Stromness and Kirkwall have recently been described as the modern “Sodom and Gomorrah,” and certainly to anyone unacquainted with the rites of Hogmanay in Orkney, the streets and bye-laws of Stromness during the early hours of 1945 must have seemed inhabited by the depraved and the double-damned denizens of the lowest circles of the underworld. Intoxicated voices and the unsteady tramp of intoxicated feet kept honest citizens awake long after the usual hour. By seven in the morning most of the revellers had returned home, and the early morning light caught the last of them as they staggered, crawled, or were carried home to early breakfast. New Year’s Day, of course, was spent in disgusting in-action by the sober citizens of Stromness, and in sad attempts to regain sobriety by the swilling ones. Several of the latter category (by far the larger, we fear) repented on January the first, and swore never to touch drink again. But I quite agree with you, dear readers – we’ve heard that story before! We wish our readers a very happy New Year, and join with them in the fervent hope that 1946 will dawn on a world at peace.

1945 January 16 Orkney Herald

STROMNESS – HARBOUR FROZEN. – On Wednesday morning last a large part of the inner harbour was frozen over. An old Graemsay man of seventy years, who visited Stromness that day in his motor-boat, said he never remembered Stromness harbour frozen to such an extent before. When we passed on this opinion to a middle-aged Stromness man, he ridiculed the idea. He said he remembered two or three occasions of far thicker frost. But whatever it was like in the past, it was certainly very frosty last Wednesday morning. The wireless announcer spoke of a terrific snowstorm over the Straits of Dover. ln Orkney it was beautifully sunny and crisp – which is only one more proof of the superiority of Orkney’s climate to that of any other region in Britain.

1945 January 30 Orkney Herald



Orkney, like the rest of Britain, was last week in the grip of the most severe prolonged spell of Arctic weather for many years. All over the county roads were blocked and traffic held up. Few of the blocks were of long duration, but most roads were closed intermittently throughout the period. Even after more than a week only one traffic lane was available on most routes and great care was necessary.

Owing to interruptions to railway services in the North of Scotland, communication with the South by surface route was at times cut off, but on no day was Scottish Airways service between Inverness, Orkney and Shetland unable to get through, though some services were delayed. At Aberdeen, on the other hand, snowfall was such that Allied Airways were unable to operate. An aircraft which left there on Thursday, 18th January, was still in Orkney at this week-end.

There were few accidents due to the wintry conditions, and all bar one were of a minor nature. The exception was a sledging mishap on Clay Loan, Kirkwall, on Wednesday evening, as a result of which a member of the W.R.N.S., a Glasgow girl, sustained severe head and body injuries. At the time of going to press she was progressing as well as could be expected.

Writing on Friday a West Mainland correspondent reported: – We are completely snowed up here, with the worst snow block for many years. The frost, too, has been most severe. Most of the ordinary farm roads are full of snow, and moving is difficult except on foot, and even then not very easy. The public roads are not good either. Some attempt at clearing has been made here and there, but these roads are in poor shape for the reasonable safety of the public.

[The Stromness correspondent writes] ….. THE SNOW. – After ten days of looking at flawless snow-scapes, we are all beginning to long once more for the sight of good black earth; all of us, that is, except the children, who are “snow-borne” most of the day and night. There are not so many snowmen this year as formerly. Children nowadays are not satisfied with this mild form of amusement. They prefer to throw freezing ammunition at elderly gentlemen going home from work. And, of course, we daren’t blame the dear little things, as they are merely copying (in their own innocent fashion) their elders on the battlefields of Europe. Setting out to Kirkwall by bus in this weather is an adventure, and should only be attempted by men of steel. By this time probably the worst is over; and everyone you meet says we’ve had enough snow to last us till next year.

1945 February 6 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FARM. – The farmers have had a harassing time in the severe wintry weather of the past weeks, and are concerned about the delay in field operations. Ploughing already in arrears has been further delayed by the recent snow, and some hard work will have to be done to make up for lost time.

WINTRY CONDITIONS, – January 1945 has passed, leaving a memory of exceptionally severe wintry weather, which persisted throughout its course. Not for many years have we experienced such a long spell of snow and Arctic conditions. The rigours have been felt more keenly in the open spaces than in the town, and country folk have been greatly inconvenienced. But a snowfall is not without interest, and in the white world there were days of beautiful snowscapes with frosty decorations that claimed admiration. The discomforts, however, brought forth many maledictions. With roads blocked traffic ceased for a time and for some days there were no mails. All outside work came to a standstill, and with life stagnant a loneliness brooded over the place. Shopping presented a problem when stores dropped low. At the farms difficulties had to be faced in attending to the cattle and other livestock when water and turnips became frozen. All social functions had to be postponed, including Burns celebrations. With the advent of February we look forward to signs of spring, and as Candlemas was not bright and fair we hope that “maist of the winter has been and mair.”

1945 February 13 Orkney Herald

LOCAL AND DISTRICT NEWS – HELD OVER. – Owing to late arrival and non-arrival of copy, several items of news, mainly from the districts, have had to be held over.

[It is obvious there has been no ‘Rousay correspondent’ for a very long time. Articles do appear on a very irregular basis, and I am guessing they were written by the minister, for his name appears in every one at least twice! So, with such a dearth of island news I will continue to extract items of interest from Orkney in general, especially the ever-present scribe from Evie. His eloquent description of weather and farming would have been very similar for folks living either side of Eynhallow Sound…..]

EVIE – FARM. – The farmers, after strenuous days round the steading contending with the recent hard conditions, have lost no time in diverting their energies to the soil since the black earth appeared, and the plough teams have been busy turning up the sod. Looking round the fields one can see a considerable expansion of furrows. Housewives are engaged with their incubators preparing for chick-hatching.

THE THAW. – The snow is over and gone, and the earth restored to its normal appearance. Everybody welcomed the thaw, which was termed a moderate one, and the ill effects were negligible. The frost broke up slowly and the water was gradually released preventing a sudden torrent descending from the hills, which would have resulted in damage to roads and property. In the milder atmosphere which ensued there was the breath of Spring, but winter still holds sway over the land. From its covering of snow the grass emerged wilted and bleached, and the wet bleak fields, yet unrelieved by a spot of green, present a dreary aspect indicative of the season.

1945 February 20 Orkney Herald

ECCLESIASTICAL EPISODES No. 17. – After the Disruption of 1843, when the “Free Kirk” broke away from the Established Church of Scotland, many ministers in Orkney, as elsewhere, who had identified themselves with the schism, found themselves without any churches to preach in. Accordingly, on Sundays, when the weather permitted, they preached to their congregations in the open air. Sermons in those days took several hours to deliver. One Orkney minister whose name has not come down to us, was in the midst of a prolonged discourse on Hell and its horrors to a sleepy Sunday afternoon congregation, when a Whitemaa swooped out of the blue and dropped its usual load on the minister’s bald head. Many members of the congregation were so bold as to laugh – the ladies tittered, the children squeaked, and the men guffawed with merriment at the minister’s misfortune. The minister, however, was not a man to lose his head in such ludicrous circumstances. “My friends!” he thundered out, ” laugh to your heart’s content; but at the same time don’t forget to render thanks to God that he didn’t make cows fly!”

1945 March 6 Orkney Herald

EVIE – HIGH WINDS AND HEAVY SEAS. – Last week was characterised by high winds and heavy seas, and much blew in with the lion showing his teeth. The worst seas of the winter were witnessed in Eynhallow Sound. At Scabra Head the surge rose high in huge columns of spray which spread over the cliffs scattering the spindrift far over the land, and the narrow channel between Eynhallow and Rousay was a seething cauldron. The Rousay mail service was greatly interrupted, and on several occasions when an attempt was made to cross the Sound the boat landed at Aikerness, not being able to touch the Evie Pier, which was lashed by heavy land seas. Eager expectations of a spoot ebb were dashed by the tumult of the waters.

1945 May 15 Orkney Herald


VICTORY ! Shout it out from the house-tops and across the fields and over the seas. Let it resound from end to end of the earth. Let it echo down the arches of the years. Cry it jubilantly in your hearts and whisper it humbly in your prayers.

This is a victory greater than all the victories of history, greater than all the triumphs of Alexander and Julius Caesar, of Saladin and Genghis Khan, of Napoleon and Wellington. No battle honours inscribed on our centuries-old colours can compare with this.

We have fought the enemy wherever he was to be found. We fought him in the Middle East and North Africa. We fought him in Italy and Greece. We fought him through France and across the Low Countries until we ran him to earth in his own land, on the soil in which Germany’s dream of worId domination lies buried for ever.

France and Poland were at our side when we first took up the challenge. We battled on when we were alone, when our aircraft were few, when our Army was small, and when our commitments were great. We fought beside Russia and America when those nations were drawn into the struggle. Our victory is a victory of all the United Nations, but it is one which could never have been won without the stout hearts and strong arms of our own people.

It is in the hour of our supreme triumph that we shall be tested. This is no time for inflated pride, for “frantic boast and foolish word,” no time to rest on our laurels, to imagine that all that remains for us is to harvest the fruits of our labours.

There will be no fruits for our labours in the material sense. Our reward will lie in the satisfaction of knowing that we have helped to save civilisation and of seeing the free and happy faces of nations that, through our efforts, have been born again.

In difficulty and disaster we acquitted ourselves well. Let us show that in victory we can act with the same steadfastness, the same restraint, and the same dignity as we displayed to the world in the hard days that are past.

First, therefore, let us give thanks that we have been the instruments of justice and humanity. Then let us dedicate ourselves, in all humility, to the task which we took up in 1939: the task of ensuring that the Rule of Law shall prevail in every corner of the globe.

For we must not forget the enemy in the East. Before the Rule of Law again prevails throughout the world the Japanese have to be beaten as thoroughly and as completely as the Germans. With our Allies we shall work towards this – the final victory.


The European war is over. Two of the Axis Powers are broken and crushed in ignominy. It is only a matter of time before Japan shares their inglorious fate. After five and a half years of the bitterest struggle in history, there is a natural reaction against the tempo of war. We all need rest. We all want to forget the evils and horror brought about by the vile Nazi dictatorship.

Yet the time has not come for us to relax. The freedom for which we have been fighting will be held firmly within one grasp only if we tackle the problems of peace with the same vigour that we tackled the war.

1945 May 22 Orkney Herald



While we rejoice soberly at our victory in Europe – remembering still that the Japanese war is still to be won and that the tale of our dead is yet incomplete – we can remember the ordinary people of this country with a great and humble pride.

If they accepted compulsion, they did it, not in the German fashion, like slaves, but cheerfully, knowing what sacrifice they were making, understanding that the temporary loss of their liberty was a trifling matter compared with what their fate would be if they fell. And there was one liberty that they never surrendered: the freedom to grumble, to criticise, to speak their minds on whatever subject they chose.

When the women were mobilised in 1941, they heard the order with a kind of grim satisfaction. To-day, they can look back in a record unparalleled by any other nation – for in what other country have women been conscripted on equal terms with men? Out of 16 million women between the ages of 14 and 60, nearly eight million were engaged, by 1944, in some form of National Service. In addition, some 900,000 were in part-time work. Then, a million women, most of them housewives, banded themselves together into the Women’s Voluntary Services, and quietly went about their honoured task as the nation’s maids-of-all-work. There is an epic touch about the story of this great endeavour, which, like all those other great voluntary efforts which seemed to spring up overnight as the need arose, played a never-to-be-forgotten part in the saga of the last five years.

The Observer Corps were in being when the war broke out, and the Luftwaffe learned to its cost how great was their efficiency. The demand came for a Home Guard – “that band of murderers,” as Hitter called it in a helpless fury. Men responded in their hundreds of thousands, and, before the war was over, the Home Guard had become a highly-trained citizen army, a million and three-quarters strong. When officers were needed for the youth training corps, more than enough came forward.

Wherever we turn, there is a tribute to pay. To the magnificent men and women of the National Fire Service and the Civil Defence the nation owes a special word of praise. And not to be forgotten are the anonymous men, women and children who transformed the prosaic jobs of collecting salvage and savings into a triumphant progress.

More than 22 million civilian removals were recorded in Britain during the war. Many of these came about because the work of a man or woman could be utilised to better advantage in another part of the country. Yet this hardship, like so many others brought about by the war, was accepted as a matter of course.

The people of this country who performed such prodigies have well deserved their days of rejoicing.

1945 July 3 Orkney Herald

HELD OVER. – Owing to pressure on our space and time, numerous articles, letters to the Editor, and items of local and district news have been held over. Some of these will be out of date by the time our next issue appears, but we heartily thank all correspondents for their interest and help. – Ed.

[This particular eight-page edition of the Orkney Herald contained three pages of advertisements, three-quarters of a page of ‘local and national’ news – and five pages of political comment in support of Liberal candidate Major Joseph Grimond in the forth-coming General Election ! ]

1945 June 12 Orkney Herald

LEARNING THE WAYS OF PEACE. – When the lights go on at night we remember the imperative duties that only a short time since encircled us – the blackout, the fire-watch, the first-aid post, and safeguarding the children as far as possible from the danger that might come in the darkness.

All that is behind us. Ways of peace lie ahead. The evenings are our own once more to be spent as we choose. Children, too, who follow the spirit of the times will soon forget their warlike games and play, in every sense, at peace.

The paths of war have led us to the lanes of peace. Some we pray never to retrace. One road, however, that opened in September, 1939, and broadened into a highway we can continue to follow. That is the road of good comradeship, wide enough to let us all pass through together and Iong enough, we hope, to take up to a happier state.

1945 July 17 Orkney Herald

STROMNESS – THE ECLIPSE. – The eclipse of the sun which occurred last Monday afternoon, and which was to have been slightly more spectacular in Orkney than in other parts of Britain, was a disappointment after all, on account of the heavily overcast sky. Air passengers to Orkney had the good fortune to see the partial eclipse perfectly from above the clouds. We on terra firma merely saw that it became slightly darker towards the peak period of eclipse. Some people swear that it also became colder for an hour or two, but we’re inclined to be sceptical on that point. Some extreme parties go so far as to say that all the bad weather we’ve been experiencing since is solely due to these unnatural heavenly manifestations; whereas it would be just as reasonable to blame the “Caretaker” Government for it. However, there’s no doubt that the amateur astronomers of Stromness were, last Monday, extremely disappointed men.

1945 July 24 Orkney Herald

OPINION. – In two days’ time we will know the name of our new M.P. We have done our best to ensure that it will not be Basil Neven-Spence, but we are forced to recognise that his re-election is by no means an impossibility. We are of opinion that Major Neven-Spence is an excellent and honourable gentleman – but he is tied to a party for which we hold no brief, and it is therefore necessary to eject him.

His Liberal opponent, Major Joseph Grimond, is a man who will go far in the world of politics. He is a fine orator, a brilliant thinker, and, most important of all, he has the tremendous energy of youth. If Orkney and Shetland elects him (and many people say that it will) we will have acted wisely and well. But whether Major Grimond is to be our next M.P. or not, a brilliant Parliamentary career is certain for him.

Mr Prophet Smith, the Labour candidate, is also young and energetic, without possessing the wide culture of his Liberal opponent. We are of opinion that Labour made a great mistake in contesting the constituency on this occasion. Their chances of success are somewhat remote, and by forcing a three-corner election they have gravely endangered the Liberal prospect of victory – a prospect which would have amounted to an overwhelming certainty in the event of a straight Liberal-Tory fight.

Meantime we have good reason to suppose that Major Grimond will top the poll on Thursday.

“The Orcadian,” our Tory contemporary, persistently underestimates the intelligence of Orcadians. This is a Liberal paper. We support a Liberal policy. We also take a liberal and high view of the intelligence of our readers. We do not think (like the “Orcadian”) that all Socialists are lazy and greedy. Some of them – a small minority – are. But the greater part of the Labour Party is sincere and honest. We could, if we thought poorly of our readers’ intelligence, describe the Tories, en masse, as parasitic and stupid. Some of them are, and some of them are not. It will be the Liberal policy to educate them away from their parasitic propensities and from their obtuseness, whenever and wherever these undesirable factors are in evidence.

People who fondly imagine that the Liberal Party is a dying organism, are in for a rude shock within the next few years. We prophesy that in another half-century from now it will be the Tory Party which will suffer annihilation; and the Liberal Party, which has been in abeyance for two and a-half decades, will once more be great in the councils of the nation. Already we see that this new “birth of freedom” is quickening the Liberal Party. In the forthcoming Parliament there will be many more Liberal M.P.s than in the 1435-45 Parliament. “The Orkney Herald” watches the renascence of the Liberal Party with delight and enthusiasm.

[General Election result, July, 1945: Orkney and Shetland
Basil Neven-Spence, Unionist – 6,304
Jo Grimond, Liberal – 5,975
Prophet Smith, Labour – 5,208]

1945 July 31 Orkney Herald

OPINION. – The unexpected and complete success of the Socialists in the General Election proves, if anything at all, that the people of Britain are heartily sick of the Tories. It also proves that the popular press, claiming to be omniscient, really knew very little about the mind of the electorate. The “Orkney Herald” was quite prepared for a Neven-Spence victory in our northern constituency; and, much though we loathed Toryism, we never doubted that his election, especially in view of the split anti-Tory vote, was a real possibility. The narrow margin of the Tory’s success in Orkney and Shetland proves that Liberalism is still a potent force in the north, and that Labour is also a power to be reckoned with. Faced with only one candidate, Major Neven-Spence would have been completely obliterated. His “more-than-last-time” majority, promised by the “Orcadian,” dwindled to a very shaky three hundred. In the next election, make no mistake, we will be saying adieu for good to Major Neven-Spence…..

[I am now under the assumption that the Rousay ‘correspondent’ is a supporter of the Conservative party – and therefore sends his island news for inclusion within the columns of The Orcadian newspaper. Unfortunately the British Newspaper Archive is yet to make digital copies of that newspaper from 1912 available on-line.

With the war over, annual events such as the the Rousay Cattle Show resume,  and a representative from the Orkney Herald visited the island to ‘cover’ the day’s proceedings – as we see below…..]

1945 August 14 Orkney Herald


A successful revival of Rousay Cattle Show was held on Tuesday, 7th August, in a field kindly lent by Mr R. Seatter, Banks.

The weather was dull, with drizzle during the forenoon, clearing up later in the day. This was the first show held in Rousay since the outbreak of war in 1939. The entries in the cattle sections were higher than in 1939. Fewer horses in the younger classes took down the horse entries. The sheep section was again higher entries than in 1939.

The judges spoke of the high quality beasts put forward, and made special remarks on the exceptionally good show and quality of the draught mares, and also one-year-old colts and fillies.

The judges were Mr Learmonth, Pow, Sandwick, and Mr Wood, Skaill, Sandwick.

The show arrangements were carried out by Messrs David Moar, Saviskaill; John Mainland, Westness; James Lyon, Ervadale; Armit Sinclair, Langskaill; Robert Seatter, Banks; Robert Johnston, Trumland; William Corsie, The Glebe; James Russell, Brendale; Robert Mainland, Nearhouse; George Reid, Tratland; James Craigie, Falquoy; John Craigie, Furse; with Ronald Shearer, Curquoy, as Secretary.

In the afternoon a stock judging competition, open to persons up to 25 years of age, was held, there being 26 competitors.

The following were the prize-winners: – 1 (equal), with 29 out of 36 points, David Gibson, Nearhouse, Rousay; James Mainland, Sound, Egilshay, and Tom Linklater, North Tofts, Egilsay. 2 (equal), with 28 points, Elsie Donaldson, Tratland, Rousay, and Hugh Mainland, Midskaill, Egilshay. 3, with 27 points, Archer Clouston, Trumland, Rousay. 4 (equal), with 26 points, Thelma Shearer, Curquoy, Rousay, and John Mainland, Nearhouse, Rousay. 5 (equal), with 25 points, William Mainland, Hurtiso, Rousay; Ronald Stevenson, Westness, Rousay; and Edward Seatter, Banks.

Arrangements for the stock judging competition were carried through by Mr Watt, County Organiser, and assistants. An interesting demonstration on stock judging was given by Mr Learmonth, Pow, Sandwick.

The catering for the show was efficiently carried out by the ladies of the Horticultural Committee, under its convener, Mrs H. Gibson, Bigland, president of the Horticultural Society.

The show prizewinners were:-

CATTLE SECTION. – Polled Bulls – 1 Robert Johnston. Polled Cows – 1 J. Harcus, 2 Miss M. A. Munro, 3 Wm. Corsie, 4 R. Johnston. Shorthorn Cows – 1 Miss Mainland, 2 W. Corsie, 3 J. Munro, 4 R. Slater. Three-year-old Polled Cows – 1 W. Corsie, 2 R .Johnston, 3 W. Alexander. Two-year-old Polled Queys – 1 J. Harcus, 2 R. Johnston, 3 W. Corsie, 4 R. Johnston. Two-year-old Shorthorn Queys – 1 C. Flett, 2 R. Seatter. Two-year-old Polled Steers – 1 Mrs Mainland, 2 W. Corsie, 3 Mrs Mainland, 4 W. Alexander. One-year-old Polled Queys (1st Oct.) – 1 J. Harcus, 2 J. Munro. One-year-old Shorthorn Queys (1st Oct.) – 1 R. Johnston. One-year-old Polled Steers (1st Oct.) – 1 W. Alexander, 2 R. Johnston, 3 R. Seatter. One-year-old Shorthorn Steers (1st Oct.) – 1 R. Seatter. One-year-old Polled Queys (1st Mar.) – 1 R. Johnston. One-year-old Polled Steers 1st Mar.) – 1. J. Harcus, 2 R. Johnston, 3 Mrs Grieve, 4 W. Corsie. One-year-old Shorthorn steers (1st Mar.) – 1 J. Munro, 2 and 3 R. Seatter. Calves (1st Oct.) – 1 and 2 W. Alexander, 3 and 4 R. Seatter. Calves (1st Mar.) – 1 W. Alexander, 2 R. Seatter.

HORSE SECTION. – Draught Geldings – 1 W. Corsie, 2 J. Lyon. Draught Mares – 1 G. Reid, 2 R. Johnston, 3 W. Corsie, 4 J. Craigie. Two-year-old Geldings – 1 E. Craigie. Two-year-old Fillies – 1 G. Reid, 2 J. Lyon, 3 R. Seatter. One-year-old Geldings – 1 R. Johnston. One-year-old Fillies – 1 and 2 J. Craigie. Garrons – 1 J. Munro, 2 S. Inkster.

SHEEP SECTION. – Pen of Two Cross Ewes – 1 R. Seatter. Pen of Two Cheviot Ewes – 1, 2 and 3 R. Johnston. Pen of Two Cross Gimmers – 1 R. Seatter. Pen of Two Cross Lambs – 1, 2 and 3 R. Seatter, 4 R. Johnston. Best Five Lambs – 1 R. Seatter; reserve, R. Johnston.

SPECIAL PRIZES. – Cup presented by Mr John T. Flett, for Best Animal in Horse Sections; to be won three years – George Reid, Tratland; reserve, John Craigie, Furse. Cup, presented by the Rev. R. Davidson, for Best Animal in Cattle Sections; to be won three years – Robert Johnston, Trumland; reserve. W. Alexander, Scockness. Cup, presented by Mr William Bertram, for Best. Clydesdale Mare in Yard; to be won three years – George Reid, Tratland; reserve, John Craigie, Furse. Cup, presented by Messrs. P. C. Flett Co., for Best Cow in Yard; to be won three years – 1 William Corsie, The Glebe; reserve, Mrs Mainland, Hurtiso. Cup, presented by Mr George Johnston, M.R.C.V.S., for Best Shorthorn Cow; to be won three years – Mrs Mainland, Hurtiso; reserve, W. Corsie, The Glebe. Cup, presented by Dr Paterson, for Best Cog-fed Calf; to be won three years – 1 and reserve, William Alexander, Scockness. Cup. presented by T. S. Peace, for Shorthorns under 2½ years old; to be won three years – R. Johnston, Trumland; reserve, Charles Flett, Quoys. Cup, presented by the Northern Farmers Co-operative Society, for Best Pair Yearlings; to be won three years – Robert Johnston, Trumland; reserve, J. Harcus, Gorehouse. Cup, presented by Mr John Kemp, jeweller. for Best One-year-old Colt or Filly; to be won two years – John Craigie, Furse; reserve, Robert Johnston, Trumland. Cup, presented by Messrs Reith & Anderson, for Best Five Lambs; to be won three years – Robert Seatter, Banks; reserve, Robert Johnston, Trumland. Silver Rose Bowl, presented by O.A.D.S., for Best Four Cattle drawn from any section; to be won three years – Robert Johnston, Trumland; reserve, John Harcus, Gorehouse. Vase, presented by Mr Wm. Shearer, seed merchant, for Best Gelding in Yard; to be won three years – Robert Johnston, Trumland; reserve, Wm. Corsie, The Glebe. Medal, presented by Mr A. W. K. Baikie, for Best Butcher Animal; to be won two years – Mrs Mainland, Hurtiso; reserve, William Corsie, The Glebe. Medal, presented Mr Stanley Firth, for Best Pair of Ewes; to be won two years – Robert Seatter, Banks; reserve, Robert, Johnston, Trumland. Medal, presented Mr W. D. Reid, for Best Animal in Cattle Section under £20 rental; to be won two years – 1 and reserve, John Harcus, Gorehouse. Medal, presented by the late Fred. Inkster, for Best Animal in Sheep Section; to be won two years – 1 and reserve, Robert Seatter, Banks. Medal, presented by Mr Alex Heddle, butcher, for Best Calf in Yard; to be won two years – 1 and reserve, William Alexander, Scockness. Medal, presented by Mr John Foulis, butcher, for Best Garron; to be won two years – James Munro, Breval; reserve, Sam. Inkster, Kirkhall. Most Successful Exhibitor – Mr Robert Johnston, Trumland. Most Entries – Mr Robert Johnston, Trumland.


FISHING NOTES. – During the great dearth of fresh fish in the past few years, the local fishermen have turned more and more to lobster fishing for a living. Lobster fishing, on the whole, is remunerative, and in wartime especially, the local lobster fishers have been well paid for their wares by the wholesale fish merchants of the south. The lobster fisher has his worries, too; for the shellfish must be transported alive to their destination. This calls for speed of a high order, and the Orkney lobsters are usually in Glasgow the day after they are caught. It’s remarkable how long these crustaceans wilI remain alive out of their element. The present month of August, however, is the worst time of year of them. Many of them die on the way south, and are consequently quite useless, because they putrefy very rapidly after death. Indeed, unless the lobsters are boiled while alive (cruel fate !) they will be tainted, and unfit to eat. So August is the most worrying month for the lobster fishers. If any of their fish die en route, all their hard work will have been in vain. When you are enjoying the sunshine and the pleasant warmth of mid-August, spare a thought for the poor lobster fishers, who can only be sure of a profit in the cool weather. For them, August is the only really dangerous month of the year.

1945 August 21 Orkney Herald


On August the fifteenth ended the Second World War, which began on September the third, 1939. For almost six years Britain has poured out her strength and her manhood to make this victory certain. Our losses have been grievous; but, had we hesitated to make the necessary sacrifices, our people would have been defeated and sent into a shameful slavery. To-day the evil nations of the earth, with all their satellites, are humbled to the dust. To-day the victorious Allied Nations are supreme on earth. This has come about because they had faith and trust in the innate dignity and goodness of Man, and because they had the courage to fight for their ideals. The future peace of the world depends on good relationships and mutual trust existing between the victorious nations. If they quarrel with each other, another World War of incredible magnitude will result; and of its outcome no man dares to contemplate. Intelligent thinking and discussion among the common people will go a long way towards pressing the world’s peace, which is now more precious than it has ever been.

The powerful Empire of Japan, with a native population of a hundred millions, half civilised, half barbaric, declared war on Britain and America in a typically cynical way. Without one word of warning, their aircraft, on the morning of December 7th, 1941, destroyed the American Naval Base of Pearl Harbour. The Japanese statesmen who planned that treacherous blow at the heart, did not foresee the swift and terrible vengeance that would fall on them almost four years later. The stricken cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are eternal monuments to the futility of treachery in diplomacy and war. The Japanese sowed the wind, and reaped the tempest. May such be the fate of all tyrants!

Symbolic of the new light that has dawned on the world, we in Orkney notice with pleasure that, as the dark time of year draws on, the notorious “black-outs” are no more. The sight of a town in the late Autumn evenings blazing with lights, induces extravagant pleasure. It means for us that the dark sinister things of earth have been overcome; and the simply kindly things reign in the homes of men once more. In our northern islands the “black-out” was a severe imposition, borne cheerfully while it was necessary. May it never, never, be necessary again.

STRANDED ON TRIP TO U-BOAT. – Fog resulted in the stranding of 120 people at Kirkwall last Tuesday night. They had been taken by naval drifters from the islands of Eday, Sanday, and Stronsay to visit the submarine U776. One drifter, after safely retuning its 40 passengers to Rousay, grounded in the fog. Visitors to the submarine during the day totalled 2000, and a formal welcome was extended to the boat by Rear-Admiral Patrick Macnamara, C.B., C.B.E., Flag Officer, Orkney, and the members of Orkney County Council, Kirkwall Town Council, Stromness Town Council, and Orkney Harbour Commissioners. In conjunction with the visit of the U-boat there was held an exhibition of naval photographs showing scenes from the South Pacific to the Arctic, and including a pictorial record of the four-years job of constructing causeways that link the islands of South Ronaldshay and Burray with the Orkney mainland, blocking the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow, and providing highways over which traffic now runs. The submarine left Kirkwall on Thursday night for Lerwick, Shetland, taking with her two members of the Kirkwall Sea Cadet Corps.

[Launched in March 1944, U-776 participated in just one war patrol, during which no ships were sunk or damaged. In May 1945 the vessel surrendered at Portland, Dorset, and was later designated N-65, a British N-class submarine. It toured the East coast of the UK, during which it was visited by 73,960 persons. No charge was made for viewing the vessel, but collecting boxes placed aboard raised a sum of £6,195 for the King George’s Fund for Sailors. During the two-day visit to Kirkwall 3,500 folk donated a total of £247 – an average of just under 1s 5d per head.]

1945 August 28 Orkney Herald

KIRKWALL FISHERMEN’S MISHAP. – Anxiety was felt on Wednesday night for the safety of three occupants of the fishing boat Gwen-Alice, Messrs Alex. Walls, James Deerness and David Linklater. The boat should have returned about 9 p.m. Search was instituted through the Coastguard look-out stations, but no trace of the boat was obtained till after dawn when she was seen making for Kirkwall under sail. The June (Mr Charles Kelday) went out and towed her home. It transpired that the Gwen-Alice had sustained a damaged shaft coupling. She sheltered throughout the night in Saviskaill Bay, Rousay.

1945 September 18 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY – Orkney Auxiliary. – The Hon. Treasurer, Mr W. J. Heddle, solicitor, Kirkwall, begs to acknowledge the sum of £1 6s 6d, being the amount collected for the current year in the island of Rousay on behalf of the above Society, and to thank Mrs Lily Miller, Schoolhouse, Wasbister, for her kind services.

STROMNESS. – The Stromness Welcome Home’s Evie-Rousay Trip, fixed for last Thursday, had to be cancelled. Reason: the tickets were not being sold. It seems that the lateness of the season was against the trip, and uncertainty as to what the state of the weather would be. As it happened last Thursday (the Stromness September holiday) was a lovely sunny day, ideal for a large picnic. Another reason why tickets did not sell was undoubtedly the high price asked (12s 6d each). We hope Rousay people will not feel insulted that Stromnessians last week declined to visit their lovely island. We’ll probably be going in the spring-time.

1945 October 9 Orkney Herald

On Friday, 19th October

STOCK. – 2 Cows in calf, Feby and May, calvers; Stot in forward condition; 2 Fostered Quey Calves.
CROP. – 4 coles of Hay, Turnips, by the Drill.
IMPLEMENTS. – Plough, scuffler, set Zig-zag Harrows, Grubber, Turnip Sower and Scarifier, Cart, Sledge, Harness, Lister Cream Separator with Stainless Cups, Churn, Plough Trees, 2 H.P. Universal Petter Petrol Paraffin Engine and Mill, Barn Fanners, Bushel Measure.

Sale to commence at 11.30 o’clock.
Five months’ credit on approved bills for sums of £5 and upwards,
or discount thereon for cash.
T. SMITH PEACE, Auctioneer.

1945 October 16 Orkney Herald

EVIE – WINTER APPROACHES. – With October here and Summer-Time over, there is a sense of winter in the air these days, and fires have become comfortable and friendly. Darkness falls suddenly in the afternoon, and there is already a long night. Country folk are now turning their thoughts to indoor entertainments.

HARVEST NEARS COMPLETION. – The continued spell of suitable weather has enabled the farmers to speed up with harvest operations, and now most fields are cleared of stooks and the grain safely garnered. The barnyards, replete with rows of huge compactly built stacks towering high, are a sight to gladden the hearts of the toilers of the soil. Not for many years has there been such a fine harvest.

1945 October 30 Orkney Herald

THANKSGIVING WEEK. – Saturday opens the Orkney £100,000 Thanksgiving Week of National Saving. In town and country throughout the Islands the Post Offices and Banks will register the pounds, shillings and pence which the Orkney folk aim to invest for the furtherance of national reconstruction. Backed by Orkney’s great record in those national savings schemes, the people of the county will go all out to achieve another success.

EVERY penny available should be invested, between November 3 and November 10, in the Orkney £100,000 Thanksgiving Week.

The week of thanksgiving, set in a winter scene, offers something different from all the previous savings schemes promoted in Orkney.

The tranquil nights afford time for reflection upon the victory for which we now give thanks.

The stormy nights emphasise that a penny or a pound invested may some day prove to be your best friend.

Most of the strangers within the gates during the past six years having now departed, this is Orkney’s first effort, and the success or failure of the Thanksgiving Week scheme therefore lies within the power of the Orkney people alone.

As Orkney in one of the national savings “Weeks” gifted over £10,000 in addition to investing hundreds of thousands, this year’s aim of £5000 in gifts for local purposes, and £100,000 in investments, for the national wealth, and the profit of the investor, should not be beyond our achievement.

The campaign will be set in motion on Broad Street, Kirkwall at 2.30 p.m. on the afternoon of November 3. The National Anthem will begin the proceedings before the main west door of St Magnus Cathedral, the brass band of Kirkwall Salvation Army leading the assembly. Irrespective of weather conditions, the brief and informal religious service will go on…..

Facilities for making investments on Saturday, the opening day, will be confined to the Aberdeen Savings Bank, 1 Castle Street, Kirkwall, and the Post Offices in Kirkwall and throughout the county.

During the succeeding days of the week there will be the full and normal facilities of all the Banks as well as the Savings Bank and the Post Offices.

In the Orkney local districts, in common with Scottish custom this year of thanksgiving, there are no local targets.

Proceeds of entertainments are going to the local welcome home funds.

All are asked to GIVE generously for the welcome home, and to INVEST wisely for national reconstruction…..


AN APPRECIATION. – On leaving Orkney to be demobilised, I should like to say that I will always treasure the memories of my stay on the Mainland. The country which I have come to like extremely well with its gently rolling hills, its colourful braes and very fertile fields, will ever form a pleasant picture in my mind. Although I have travelled far afield, never have I seen such wonderful sunsets or sunrises as I have in Orkney. The still and placid beauty of Orkney is seen at its best, on a summer’s evening, but when Orkney wears its cloak of moonlight or its winter snow suit, it is also very beautiful. Not to see it in rain however, would create a wrong impression, for rain sets the beauty of the country.

I was stationed at Twatt and for six glorious months had my wife and son with me, residing in Birsay, but not only is it for that reason that the Birsay and Marwick district has an especially warm corner in my heart whenever I think Orkney.

Above all, I should like to pay a tribute to the people of Orkney. The kindness and hospitality of the Orcadians has to be experienced to be believed. One of the very few advantages which war brings, is that many are enabled to meet such Christian folk as the Orcadians. Nowhere could one find more industrious, peaceful and loveable people as these dear folk, and I leave Orkney, but I hope not for the last time, with the knowledge that the close association I have had with so many Orcadians has taught me much in the way to happiness and a contented way of life.


ECCLESIASTICAL EPISODES. – Fishermen are by far the most superstitious of our Orkney population. Why this should be so is not immediately apparent, but when we remember that the fisherman’s trade is the most dangerous by far in the islands – that he quite literally takes his life in his hands whenever he goes to sea – and that his livelihood depends entirely on the elements of luck – then we realise why the Orkney fisherman is as interested in charms and omens. No fisherman will go to sea in the morning if he meets a minister before embarking. For any fisherman the sight of a minister is the extremest symbol of bad luck. Anthropologists (some of them!) trace this notion back to pagan times. In those days the heathen priest always visited the savage hunter or fisherman, and warned him if the omens were bad. The custom was so deeply ingrained that it persists to this day. The modern fisherman sees in the innocent minister taking his early-morning stroll, the bringer of bad tidings. And without a word he goes home and prays to the Almighty to keep ministers at home in the early morning, when honest fisherfolk go to sea.

1945 November 20 Orkney Herald


FINAL TOTAL £209,600

All the Orkney Welcome Home Committee areas are gratified by the result achieved by the county, and by their own districts, in the Thanksgiving Week. The final total was £209,600 8s 6d. Major J. W. Dickson, M.B.E., the County Secretary and Treasurer of the scheme, announced the final figure last Tuesday.

The warmest thanks of the county organisation, and of the local welcome home committees, is extended to all who worked for the success of the “Week,” and all who loaned or gifted money.

Below we give details as issued by the Finance Committee of the county organisation (Mr Norman Williamson, convener), based on information supplied by Major Dickson…..[Orkney Herald]

[There followed a long list of mainland parishes and island totals – Rousay’s contribution being £2,959 10s 0d. There has been no information in this newspaper regarding how this money was raised.]

1945 November 27 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – DONALDSON TRUST AND HAIG FUNDS. – Mrs Harcus, Frotoft School, has received acknowledgment of £9 0s 3d collected in Rousay for the Donaldson Trust. From the sale of Poppies, the sum of £8 15s 6d was realised. All those who helped with both collections are thanked for their kind assistance.

[Established in 1850, the Donaldson Trust has provided supported education and care throughout its history and has now established itself as the leading charity for neurodiversity in Scotland.]

1945 December 4 Orkney Herald

DANGER TO LIFE. – As a result of over five years training for war in Scotland there are still unfound “blind” shells and grenades in various places where troops have been exercising with live ammunition. Every effort has been, and is being, made to find these and destroy them. Everyone is asked to report any unusual looking object which might be a bomb, shell or mine to the nearest police station. Children, especially, should be warned not to touch unusual objects, but to report them to their parents.

1945 December 18 Orkney Herald

A mild epidemic, variously known as “gastric flu” or just plain “sickness,” has in the past few weeks claimed thousands of victims in Orkney. Characteristic symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, and slight fever. After forty-eight hours of misery, more or less intense, the sickness passes away, and the victim is apparently none the worse. Epidemics, after war, exercise a morbid fascination on some mentalities. After every major international conflict in Europe in the past, giant ghastly diseases have swept the continent and thinned considerably the population of every country. The terrible influenza which ravaged and de-populated Europe after the First World War, also made itself felt in Orkney. Many people of all ages died after a brief hectic illness. It is only natural, therefore, that the authorities are anxious about any epidemic which may break out after the Second World War. The starving war-torn countries of Central Europe are ideal breeding grounds for a mortal epidemic. Already attempts are being made to segregate British soldiers from German civilians in the present winter. The only thing to do now is to hope and pray that nothing happens.

In Print

Newsprint – 1944

1944 January 4 Orkney Herald

FROM HMS NESS. – Two telegrams have reached Orkney from H.M.S. Ness, the county’s adopted frigate. The first came to the Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Zetland, Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, C.B., at his home. Sent by the ship’s commanding officer, Lieut.-Commander Rupert Marchington, R.N.V.R., the telegram states: – “Very happy Christmas to you all in Orkney, and a Great Year of Victory to come.” The second telegram, also despatched by Lt.-Cdr. Marchington, is addressed to the hon. treasurer of the H.M.S. Ness Orkney Link Fund, Mr J. W. Dickson, M.B.E., Union Bank, Kirkwall, and reads: – “Please convey our most grateful thanks to the people of Orkney for magnificent gift, and assure them we are making all our efforts to finish Jerry and come and spend next Christmas with you.” Orkney’s Christmas gift to the ship’s company of H.M.S. Ness was a cheque for £50 despatched by Mr Dickson to the Royal Naval Amenities Fund at the Admiralty.

1944 January 18 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – DISTRICT NURSING ASSOCIATION. – A very successful function was held in Sourin Hall on Friday evening in aid of the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre District Nursing Association. The proceedings began with a whist drive. Rev. R. R. Davidson, president of the Association acted as card master. Following the whist, parcels were laid out for a “Bring and Buy” sale. These were quickly disposed of, and great was the amusement as the contents of the parcels were displayed. Tea was then served by members of the committee and helpers. Prizes to the whist winners were presented by Mrs H. Harcus. Votes of thanks were accorded to Rev. R. R. Davidson for taking charge of the whist, to Mrs Harcus for presenting the prizes, to the committee and helpers, and to all those who had given donations and parcels. After tea the hall was cleared for dancing – music being supplied by the Wasbister Band. After all expenses were paid the sum of £20 remained to add to the funds of the Nursing Association. Prizes – Ladies – 1 Miss Elsie Donaldson, 2 Anna Yorston; consolation, Mrs T. Gibson; Gents – 1 Mr Armit Sinclair, 2 Mr Wm. Flaws; consolation, Mr S. Inkster; Children – Girls – Gertrude Moar; Boys – Edward Seatter.

1944 February 1 Orkney Herald

WAS IT SACRILEGE? – A reader has complained to us that he saw a lady powdering her nose in St Magnus Cathedral during the recital of vocal and instrumental music on Thursday. St Magnus Cathedral has seen many strange rites performed within its walls during the past 800 years, including the sentencing of so-called witches and sorceresses. Again, cosmetics, in spite of the fact that this is the fifth year of war, seem to be as plentiful as ever. Therefore, lest our names go down to posterity as perpetrators of such injustices as burning innocent women at the stake, we refrain from comment on the Lady with the Puff.

1944 May 2 Orkney Herald

EVIE – PEATS. – Peat-cutting days are here again, and though there has been a decline in the use of peats in recent years, there is now an urge to get to the moors for the home-produced fuel. There is no deficiency of moss, but peats, not being readymade, entail an enormous amount of labour in preparation, and peat workers are few or none these days. No doubt, however, a hard effort will be exerted to obtain a few turves for the winter fires when only limited supplies of coal are available. The tusker has already been employed.




Since the war came to Orkney, and brought with it many talented men and women of the Services to our county, a number of interesting Service publications have followed.

In October 1940 a number of young Fleet Air Arm and R.A.F. lads, under the editorship of Naval Air Photographer “Bob” King, opened the ball with “The Hatston Chronicle.”

For roughly a year the “Chronicle” provided humour and news for Hatstonians and Kirkwallians – quite a few copies were sold in Kirkwall – but, as was bound to be the case with an “unofficial” paper of the kind, it departed! Or rather, the editorial staff departed!

A year or so afterwards “Bob” King, now a full-blown officer in the R.N.V.R., returned to the Orkney Isles, which he had loved, on holiday before sailing for Alexandria.

While the little “Chronicle” was jogging placidly along the Orkney soldier-novelist, Major Eric Linklater of Dounby, came on the scene. “The Blast” was founded on January 17, 1941, and though published at Stromness, was printed at “The Orcadian,” Kirkwall.

Produced on a much more ambitious scale “The Blast” immediately appealed to all classes of Service men and women in the county, and not a few “civvies” as well, and to-day is still going strong as ever it did, its fame having spread to the far corners of the earth, and its agencies established in almost every corner where serving men and women are gathered together in these islands. Recently “The Blast” extended its orbit to include Shetland, and now prints a Shetland edition each week.

Early in 1942 came the “Northern Light,” more in the form of a magazine. In fact, “Northern Light” emulated to a certain extent the world-famous “London Opinion” and “LiIliput,” and was profusely illustrated with humorous cartoons and photos of glamorous film stars. The “Light” was published by the Education Centre, Lyness, and had a considerable sale to men of the Navy afloat and ashore. Its life was brief, however, only three or four monthly issues forthcoming.

Other little unit papers and magazines, with more or less local appeal, have been published in Orkney, the latest of which is the “Northern Ack Ack Record.”

“Northern Ack Ack Record,” an eight-page monthly magazine, was born in March this year. Though designed mainly as a unit magazine, for sale to members of the Naval Anti-Aircraft Service in Orkney, quite a few of these interesting little journals find their way into the hands of civilians…..



FOR SALE, by Public Roup, within the chambers of Messrs Macrae & Robertson, Solicitors, Commercial Bank Buildings, Kirkwall, on 15th May 1944, at 12 o’clock noon, the subjects known as SOURIN MANSE, ROUSAY, with 3¼ acres of ground or thereby. Upset price, £500. Entry and actual occupation, 27th May 1944. No burdens. For further particulars, apply to the Subscribers who have the Title Deeds and Articles of Roup. – MACRAE & ROBERTSON, Solicitors. Kirkwall, 19th April 1944.

1944 May 9 Orkney Herald

EVIE – THE LATE MRS SPENCE. – Much regret been expressed here at the death of Mrs Mary Spence, wife of Major William Spence, which occurred at Hullion, Rousay, on Monday, May 2nd. Major and Mrs Spence had only recently retired to Orkney from Edinburgh, and made their home in Rousay. Eldest daughter of the late Mr David Gibson of Hullion, Mrs Spence was a nurse before her marriage, and spent the greater part of her life out of Orkney. She had been associated with Evie for a long time, having come with the family to Harbour Cottage every summer for many years and spent a long holiday. She was surrounded by many relations and won many friends who will retain happy memories of one who was ever kind and true. The funeral took place last Wednesday to Evie Churchyard, the officiating clergymen being Rev. Mr Davidson, Rousay, and Dr Campbell, Evie. Sincere sympathy is extended to the husband and family of four – Mr Donald Spence, Nigeria; Mrs Rutherford, Edinburgh; Mrs Taylor, Evie, and Mrs Porteous, Edinburgh.

1944 June 6 Orkney Herald

DEATHS – INKSTER. – At Greenfield, Rousay, on May 29th, 1944, Frederick Traill Inkster, J.P., aged 75 years, beloved husband of Isabella Craigie. Very sadly missed.

1944 June 13 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY’S “SALUTE THE SOLDIER” WEEK. – Up to 8 p.m. on Monday evening Orkney had raised almost a third (£45,171 6s 2d) of the £150,000 target aimed at, which is to clothe and equip three parachute battalions.

With such a send-off there is no reason why Orkney should not smash the target aimed at, double it…..In both country districts and town, entertainments and other functions too numerous to mention are getting well under way…..

[Rousay’s target was £3,000; Egilsay’s was £200, and Wyre £100…..The following week’s issue of the Orkney Herald revealed £265,882 12s 3d had been raised in support of the “Salute the Soldier” week. Every Orkney island and mainland parish revealed how much they had raised….except Rousay. There has been no ‘news’ from the island for many, many months now – and I have no way of finding out why!]

1944 June 27 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FISHING. – The cuithe season is here, and in the past week many fishers have handled their wands and set out for the fishing grounds. With favourable winds and tides, catches have been good, and the fish, cooked to a nicety, have been a great treat. Out-sea fishing in quest of cod and haddock has also been tried recently, but without success.

JUNE. – The longest day has slipped past, and June, loveliest of all the months, is tapering out. Usually a dry month in the north, it has this year belied its reputation, there having been ample moisture throughout. Summer having reached its full pride, the country is looking its best. The landscape is a study in green and gold, the sparkling atmosphere of blue sea and skies enhancing the beauty. The arable patches are showing wonderful fertility, all crops, though later than usual, developing satisfactorily, and granted the sunshine and heat now due, may possibly yield an abundant harvest.

PEATS. – This has been a disastrous season for peats, and those who have made use of the tusker have had some cause to worry over the results of their labours. Weather, the all-important factor in curing peats, has done its worst, and though the turves may yet dry sufficiently to be brought to the homestead, quality will be lacking, the substance having been washed out by long exposure to exceptionally wet conditions.

1944 July 18 Orkney Herald

BIBLE SAVES A LEITH SOLDIER [By A Military Correspondent]. – Stories of “near misses” and hair-breadth escapes abound after any battle, but it falls to very few people to have such a lucky escape as Private Angus Corrie experienced recently.

Pte. Corrie, whose home is at 1, South Lorne Place, Leith, Edinburgh, was with his battalion in recent fighting.

“We were under heavy machine gun fire,” he told me, “when I suddenly felt something hit me in the right breast pocket. I thought I must have been wounded, but was surprised that I did not feel any pain, so I just carried on. It was not until after the battle that I realised what a narrow escape I had had.”

To back up his statement, Corrie, who was still wearing the battle dress with the bullet hole in the pocket, pulled out his Pay Book and another small book. The hole went right through the Pay Book and was continued through the second book, which was an abridged copy of the Bible. He opened it up at the last page and showed me the bullet still embedded there in the leaves. Printed on the last page was the hymn “Abide with me.”

ORKNEY’S NEW MODERATOR. – The Rev. R. R. Davidson, M.A., of Rousay Church, was appointed Moderator of the Orkney Presbytery of the Church of Scotland at the Presbytery’s meeting last Tuesday. Mr Davidson will officiate for six months instead of the full year on account of the difficulties confronting travellers between Rousay and the Orkney mainland. The meeting of the Presbytery was held in the hall of King Street Church, Kirkwall, and the chair was occupied at the outset by the retiring Moderator, the Rev. John Anderson, St. John’s, Finstown, who is the first Orkney Moderator to fill the office for a full year in accordance with the growing practice of Presbyteries to elect Moderators for twelve instead of six months.  

POLICE OFFICER DIED FOLLOWING ACCIDENT. – Following an accident in Kirkwall on June 7, in which he sustained injuries to the head and shoulder, and for which he has been treated at Balfour Hospital during the past number of weeks, Mr David Inkster died there on Saturday.

A native of Rousay, Mr Inkster, before retiring to Orkney about 15 years ago, was a Detective-Sergeant in the Govan Division of Glasgow City Police. Since the beginning of the war he has been a War Reserve Constable in the Orkney Police, and has resided at the Queen’s Hotel, Kirkwall.

It will be recalled that Mr Inkster, who is 65 years of age, was cycling westwards along Harbour Street after having been home to the Queen’s Hotel for lunch. On reaching the Kiln Corner he collided with the near side rear end of a motor vehicle which was going in the same direction and which was one of a number of vehicles using the junction at the time. Thrown off the cycle, Mr Inkster received injuries to his forehead and right shoulder and was knocked unconscious. He was conveyed to hospital by Police ambulance and was found by Mr McClure, the Surgeon Superintendent, to be suffering from fractures of the skull and right collarbone.

Mr Inkster’s remains, it is understood, will be interred in his native isle of Rousay. Deepest sympathy is expressed to all relatives and friends.

[David James Inkster, born on December 1st 1878, was the son of Hugh Inkster, Brittany, and Eliza Robson Kirkness, Quoyostray.]

1944 August 5 The Scotsman


One of the loveliest of all British wild flowers is the Pyrola, or Wintergreen……

The other day, rummaging in Mr Magnus Spence’s delightful ‘Flora of Orkney,’ I was delighted to find that he too shared my ecstatic feelings about the Pyrola . He had gone to the Island of Rousay to see Pyrola rotundifolia in her rare habitat, “near the Goukheads where the Sourin Burn flows from the Muckle Water.” There he came upon “a glorious display, the dark-brown heather served as a background for the lovely waxen pink and white blossoms, which grew in slightly waving racemes so far apart as to enhance the beauty of the scene. Eager to touch, yet loth to destroy, I lay down amid the heather and admired the picture. It is, I think, without exaggeration the prettiest flower in Orkney. ” – I.W.H.

1944 August 8 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FARM. – Turnip singling has been finished and the young plants are growing vigorously. The cereals are making rapid progress, and harvest prospects are good. Most of the hay has been built, and what little remains on the fields is now ready for the stack. The crop is fairly bulky over all, and seldom have we seen such favourable conditions for the curing of it. Peats are ready for burning, and carts and lorries are now engaged bringing them to the homesteads. They will be a welcome addition to the fuel supply.

ROUSAY W.R.I. VISITS COSTA. – A meeting of the Costa W.R.I. was held in the School at Costa last Friday evening, when the branch was visited by members of the Rousay Institute. Miss Sutherland, president, introduced and welcomed the party, thereafter vacating the chair in place of Mrs Wm. Flaws [Mabel Sinclair], vice-president of the Rousay W.R.I. Mrs Flaws in a few words thanked Miss Sutherland for her kind welcome, and said the event was particularly interesting as being the first time the Rousay W.R.I. had visited any other branch. A most enjoyable programme was submitted by the visitors. The hostesses were Miss Brass and Miss Baikie, who served a very nice tea accompanied by many good cakes. Mrs Kirkness thanked the Costa members for their kind reception, and hoped they would soon see their way to return to Rousay on a second visit. Miss Sutherland expressed her appreciation of the delightful entertainment that had been given them, and a warm vote of thanks was accorded. The meeting closed with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and “God Save the King.”

1944 September 5 Orkney Herald



With four days still to go before the Orkney Home Guard Red Cross Week opens, the money is already coming in to units all over the county. At H.Q. in Kirkwall, Major Bruce, the honorary treasurer of the scheme, has over £200 in hand.

The Week will run from Saturday, September 9, till Saturday, September 16, and will be opened by Major-General J. N. Slater, C.B.E., M.O., the General Officer Commanding the Orkney and Shetland Defences…..

The general public must forgive any little touches of “whitemail” that become apparent. All is justified for the good of the cause. After all, “whitemail” for the Red Cross, for the wounded, is a small price to pay for protection from the mailed fist of Hitler, which is what the Home Guard have given you.

“For the Wounded” is the slogan for the Week.

A Lyness officer who travelled north from England just over a week ago in an ambulance train, telephones this message to the organisers: –

“I wish your scheme all success. I learned of it in a three days’ old London evening newspaper. In the train I met an officer of a Highland regiment, wounded in France. He told me he was stationed last year and this year in Hoy and in Stenness. We talked a lot about Orkney. That lad is one of the many for whom the Orkney Home Guard Red Cross Week will do untold good. The Red Cross funds for the wounded need every penny.

“In Orkney we are away from the war – no flying bombs, no women and children being blown to pieces. Because of our immunity we may feel slack about doing something. We must not. It is up to us all, not only the Home Guard, to make a big success of the Week.”

District Plans. – The little unit in Wyre are making a door-to-door collection and running a dance. Eday Home Guard are making a house-to-house collection also. Holm’s highlight is a football match, followed by a dance. Rendall are starring in a tug o’ war tussle with Wasswick. Harray are staging a football match with Dounby A.T.C. on September 15, and a dance. Unique is Harray’s exhibition of old coins at Dunsyre, every evening till September 16. Admittance on payment of new coins!

Rousay plans a door-to-door collection and, on 8th September, a whist drive and dance, with various guessing competitions, etc…..

1944 September 12 Orkney Herald

THE BLACKOUT. – With the announcement last week that the blackout regulations would be released from this week-end, when clocks are to be changed from Double to Single British Summer Time, the question in the mind of everyone in Orkney has been “Will it apply here?” As no further announcement had been made up to Monday evening, we regret we are unable to clear up the ambiguity.

EVIE – HARVESTING. – All grainfields are becoming golden, and harvesting operations will be general this week. The tractor is being largely used and large fields speedily fall to the reaper. The crops so far are in good condition for cutting, and being only fairly heavy will not be readily affected through the agency of weather. It is customary for neighbouring farmers to combine in field work at this season, thus saving much time and helping to shorten the harvest.

1944 September 19 Orkney Herald

STRIKING SUCCESS OF HOME GUARD WEEK FOR THE WOUNDED. – Inundated with collecting boxes and bags filled with hard cash, mainly from the country districts and isles, Major James Bruce, treasurer of the Home Guard Red Cross Week, was unable on Monday to give a definite total of the gross takings to date. He is confident, however, that well over £3,000 will go to help the wounded as a result of Orkney Week…..

ROUSAY – FOR THE WOUNDED. – During the past week members of the Rousay Home Guard have made a special effort to raise money for the Red Cross. In each district a door-to-door collection was made, with gratifying results. Then, on 8th September, a whist drive and dance was held in Sourin Hall. After whist scores had been taken the company was asked to take part in many unusual competitions. This caused much amusement, and there was keen rivalry for the handsome prizes. Dancing then began, music being supplied by members of the Wasbister Band. During an interval tea was served by the Home Guard and some lady friends. Then Mrs Pirie, wife of Sgt. Pirie, presented prizes to the winners. She was accorded a very hearty vote of thanks on the call of Corporal Hourie. Dancing was resumed and carried on until the “wee sma’ ‘oors.” Money raised, to date, for the Red Cross amounts to £51 5s 5d. After expenses have been deducted a handsome sum will remain to be handed over to the Red Cross. Members of the Home Guard take this opportunity of thanking all who in any way rendered assistance during their Red Cross Week. The following is the prize list: – Whist – Ladies – 1 Mrs S. Inkster, 2 Mrs Maclean; consolation, Miss P. Corsie; Gents – 1 Mr N. Munro, 2 Mr J. C. Marwick; consolation, Mr M. Flaws. First Cake Competition – Mrs Wm. Marwick and Miss Netta Russell, Second Cake Competition – Mr S. Craigie; Saccharin Competition – Mr A. Gibson; Peas in Bottle Competition – Mr Edwin Moar; Good Meal Competition – Mrs R. Harcus; Work-Box Competition – Mrs D. Miller.

[A short time later the treasurer revealed gross receipts from the Orkney Home Guard Red Cross Week amounted to £4,133 14s 4d. Rousay’s contribution was £54 8s 9d, and Wyre £20.]

1944 September 26 Orkney Herald



A new epoch is upon us. The lifting of the blackout brings up a foretaste of victory. But there are many who will not get back to see the lights in the windows at home, the ones who have laid down their lives and paid the price of victory.

What kind of a world did they die for?

They saved us from Hitler’s kind, and they wanted something bigger than the 1918-39 kind too. They died for a brand new world.

Who is going to make it happen? We are. Forty-five million of us. Their sacrifice can be a spur to our living.

A young officer who has given his life in the liberation of France foresaw how the new world must be built. He wrote in one of his last letters:

“What example will Britain show to a strife-torn world? There are two sorts of ideas which will determine the answer.

“The first preachers grab get all you can while there’s a chance. You’ve got to look after number one. Demand all you can get. Have a good time, more money, more comfort, more power.

“The other idea says – fight for sound homes for our soldiers to come back to. Fight for teamwork in industry, team-work in office, factory, farm. Industry run on the give and take of democracy will give you and your country more happiness than a divided, squabbling and embittered industry. Fight for a united nation. Unity in the country will bring more lasting peace and security to you and everyone than any selfish or sectional grains you may grab for yourself.

“The way the world will be run will be decided by the way the people of Britain respond to this choice.”

1944 October 3 Orkney Herald

DEATHS. GIBSON – Reported killed in action in North West Europe, on 11th Sept. 1944, L/Sgt. John S. Gibson, Seaforths, aged 25 years, third son of J. S. Gibson, and the late Mrs Gibson, formerly of Hullion, Rousay.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. Mr Gibson and family desire to thank all neighbours and friends for kindness and sympathy in their bereavement. – Frotoft Schoolhouse, Rousay.

[Serjeant John Sinclair Gibson, 2nd Seaforths, died at Le Havre, and is buried in Grave 7, Row P, Divn. 67, Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France. John’s parents were James Sinclair Gibson and Mary Gibson (née Cooper). Before he joined up John worked at home, Hullion, Rousay. He went through the whole of the North African campaign, then returned to Britain to take part in the invasion of France.  John survived the Normandy campaign, but was killed during the fighting to clear the Germans out of the port of Le Havre.]

1944 October 24 Orkney Herald

WEATHER REPORTS NOW. – From the early days of the war we have been reluctantly compelled to “cut” all references to the weather from reports sent in by correspondents and from our own reports, much to the detriment of both. For five years the weather in all parts of Britain has been one of the most jealously kept secrets, but a secret no longer necessary to keep. Now the strict censorship hand down that weather reports could not be published till ten days after has been cut to two days, excepting snow or floods, which are still subject to a five-day embargo. One more augury of better times ahead!

1944 November 7 Orkney Herald



In a report to the Emergency Committee of Orkney County Council at its meeting on Nov. 1, 1944, Mr Alex. Doloughan, A.R.P. Officer, stated: –

“Now that the ban on publication of details of air raids occurring in the early part of the war has been lifted it is possible to give the following information to the public on enemy activity in Orkney since the early days of the war.

“The Alert has been sounded in the county 75 times since the war began but, of course, enemy planes have been over the islands on many occasions when Alerts were not sounded and on at least two occasions bombs were dropped when no Alert was sounded at all.

“In all, 228 bombs and 2 parachute mines have fallen on land in the county in 16 attacks. Casualties have been remarkably light – 3 persons killed, 11 seriously injured and 5 slightly injured. These include the first civilian casualty to die due to enemy action in this country – James Isbister, who was killed at the Bridge of Waithe on 16th March 1940. The first bomb fell in the country in Hoy on the 17th October 1939.

“Hoy has suffered the largest number of attacks, having been bombed 5 times. South Ronaldshay, 3 times; Flotta and Sanday, twice, and Shapinsay and Burray once; while two lighthouses, on Auskerry and Suleskerry, were each bombed once without serious damage or casualties.

“Bombs fell on the mainland in the following parishes: – Deerness, Holm, St Ola, Stenness and Tankerness, and in addition Stromness suffered on one occasion from an attack by a raider who machine-gunned the town along its entire length from a low altitude.

“Incendiary bombs fell in several of the early attacks, but they were particularly ineffective. Many fell in the sea, some on moorland, setting fire to heather, but only one caused anything like a serious fire – it fell in a stackyard in Stenness and burned out several stacks of corn.

“Damage to property from high explosive bombs has fortunately been of the same minor scale. In the heaviest raid, namely on March 16th, 1940, 6 cottages were more or less severely damaged at Bridge of Waithe and damage occurred at Craigiefield and Graemeshall – chiefly confined to broken windows.

“The various A.R.P. Services, under the control of the late Chief Constable of Orkney, Mr W. Colin Campbell, Esq., O.B.E., proved entirely adequate to deal with incidents, which, it must be remembered, were unprecedented in the history of this country. Much valuable knowledge accrued to the Central Authorities as a result of Orkney’s early experience of raids, and one of the most commendable features of the picture presented by the accounts of these early raids was the excellent, accurate and speed reporting of movements of enemy planes at a time when no Observer Corps existed to supply the information.”

1944 November 21 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – POPPY DAY. – Poppies sold by schoolchildren in Rousay realised £10 6s for the Earl Haig Fund. Teachers and pupils are thanked for their kind co-operation.

In Print

Collection of 19th Century letters

This page is devoted to a collection of 29 letters written in the 1860s, 70s and 80s and sent between family in Rousay, Australia and New Zealand. A regular letter writer was Robert Sinclair (1795-1884) of Swandale, Rousay, to his family in Australia, mainly in Melbourne, and New Zealand. Some of the letters contain just family gossip and complaints about old age ailments, but there are also interesting snippets about 19th century life in Rousay and Down Under.

Robert Sinclair’s great-granddaughter Hughna Yorston of Melbourne was eventually in possession of all the surviving letters until her death in 1994. She gave Robert Craigie Marwick a photocopy of the letters in the 1980s for possible use in Rousay Roots, and in turn he eventually passed them on to his nephew John Marwick who took over the running of the Rousay Roots website. The reference numbers mentioned in the transcriptions are the original references which Robert C Marwick allocated to the very first Rousay Roots manuscripts.  They were used as IDs and for navigation.

John says – “Transcribing the letters was not an easy task. There were lots of words and symbols I had never seen or heard of and deciphering the spelling was something else.  There was also a mixture of proper (or sort of proper) spelling and phonetic spelling in the same breath. I did have a couple of very good transcription helpers – my wife Hilda and our good friend Rhona Mackenzie from Portmahomack, Ross-shire. They are both (ex) schoolteachers, and for some reason or other, teachers have proved to be among the best for this role. The letters contained little in the way of punctuation and no paragraphs, so I took the liberty of adding punctuation and splitting the letters into paragraphs.  I imagine that writing paper would have been expensive and paragraphs a luxury even if they had been considered.”

Letter from Margaret Mowat in Kirkwall, Orkney to her niece Margaret Sinclair (A622) in Australia, wife of Hugh Marwick (A19)

Kirkwall, Orkney
March 12th 1863

Dear Mrs Marwick.

I write you this few lines to let you know we are both well at present, thank God for it. Hoping that this will find you all in the same.

Dear niece, I have thought very long for word from you but could get none. I never thought that you would have forgot me as you have done. If any person had told me it, I would not believed it.

Dear niece, I have not been in Rousay since the year 1861 and I was in your father’s house there and I got my tea in it, and they was all well and in good spirits and is yet as far as I hear.

I have been sending off eggs to Edinburgh for my occupation this time back and was coming well on, but my Agent is broken and I have lost every penny that I had in the world, and worst of all has found myself in debt and before this happened Jemima was in a place.  She was baby’s maid but I took her home thinking that I could keep her respectably with me to be a company to me, for I thought very long myself.  But when this happened I had to put her out again.  She is now the only servant in the house and she has very little work and a good Master and Mistress.  It makes me glad when she is well off, but still I feel very lonely to be in the house myself.

Dear niece, I am very sorry to ask you a favour, but I would be very glad if you would send me a little money to help me on a little if it was ever so little.  I am very sorry to trouble you but it is necessity that is making me do it.

We are living in the door below where we was when you went away.  Jane Mowat is a servant to the Sheriff.  She is baby’s maid and Lady has 5 children.  Sister Betty has no a baby yet.  Brother Thomas is very feeble.  He is never been stout since his son David was lost.  John and his wife is been very unwell this winter but they are better now.

Jemima sends her kind love to you all and kisses out of number to her little cousins.  Please write me as soon as you get this and let me know if any person is written anything against me that is hindered you to write me.

I will write no more at present till I see if you get this or not.  All at present but remains your affectionate aunt till death.

Margaret Mowat
Wellington Street

To: Mrs Hugh Marwick
Esay Street

Letter from Hugh Yorston in New Zealand to his Brother in Law, Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia, suggesting that the Marwicks should return to NZ.

Waibola, November 24th 1865

Dear Brother and Sister and Children.

I take the opportunity of writing you this few lines to let you know that we are in good health as this leaves us, thank God for his goodness to us all.

I received your letter yesterday which was wrote the 11 of this month and we were very glad to hear from you as it is a long time since we heard from you.  I am wrote 2 letters for you and not got any answer.

Dear brother, I have no particular news to send at present.  We are breaking up land every day as fast as we can and it is hard work.  We will have 100 acres under crop next year.  I bought a mare about 2 months ago which cost £60 and now we have as good a team of horses as you will see anywhere.

Dear brother, I think you would do better to come over here to us.  The house is standing as you left it.  Isaac is stopping at the Sessions (?) as yet.  Thomas is left there about a week ago for the sheep shearing and your father is in good health as you left him.

Ann is left here, she is in Tokomairiro, a servant to the banker.  William Gibson is stopping with Sinclair Harrold.  He is been with him 3 months.  Hugh Marwick is still on Stewart Island.  There is no much fear of him going home, he has nothing to go home with.

Your brother in law is in the Molonux as yet.  We get letters from him regular.  We got a letter from Peter Reid last week.  He is at the west coast.  He says he is going to make his pile in the summer.

Dear brother, I am to inform you about the cattle.  There is no disease reached us as yet and we are not thinking long for it.

Mr Mollison and Mr Charend is taken a run far south and they wanted me to go in with them, but I would not join them.  They have 12,000 acres and they are bought a good many cattle from Craigie 45, and from Sinclair 18 or 20.  Our run here is getting very bad, it is over stocked.

Dear brother, the times is not so bad in New Zealand as you think.  We will very soon have a railway from Dunedin to the Cluthe ferry.

The provision is been very cheap this year …I am sold oats for 2s 6d and eggs for 1s the dozen.  But it is all taken a start.  The oats is selling now at 5s 9d and everything is rising fast.

Dear Brother, when you write, let us know about all our Rousay folk and especially about Mistress Robert Gibson, widow and children

No more at present, but remains your brother and sister Betsy.

Hugh Yorston

Letter from Elizabeth Marwick (A20) and her husband Hugh Yorston in New Zealand to her brother Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

February 25th 1866

Dear Brother and Sister and Children.

I take the opportunity of writing you this few lines to let you know that we are in good health at present, hoping and earnestly wishing to find you in the same, thank God for his goodness to us all.

You will be thinking I am got careless about writing, but I am the same as ever.  The reason was your sister was confined of another child, a boy, and are both well.

I have no particular news to send.  We have a very busy time here now cutting our crops.  We have a fine crop this year.  We have had plenty of rain this summer which is made plenty of everything to grow.  It is not been the case with you.  Dear Hugh I was expecting you over here before this.  You know very well you can do better here than in Victoria.  I had a conversation with Isaac and Thomas about the house and they are quite agreeable to you having it.  It is standing as you left it and they are stopping with Richard, and Ann is with the banker in Tokomairiro.

Your father is well as usual.  William Gibson is stopping with Sinclair Harrold.  I saw him the day at the church today and he is in good health.

Dear brother, you need not be afraid to come over here for want of work, plenty of work here now.  I am put up a new barn and I kept it back a month expecting you owr, and then I gave the job to Bill.  It is 40 x 15 and we are got some of our stuff in it as I could wait no longer after you.

Robert Sinclair was here with us over the Christmas week and he is still at the same place.  He thinks you should come over here.  You stopped too long where you are dear brother.

I got a lot of letters from home last night and all our friends is well.  My sister is been over at Egilsay and two nights in Kirbist.  Margaret and family is well.

You wanted to know about the cattle disease.  We are not seen any of that trouble here as yet.  The cattle is cheapest nor I ever saw them.  I bought a cow and calf for £6, butter is 1s 6d per lb, beef 6d per lb, eggs 6s 9d the dozen, flour at £42 a ton or £2 8s the bag.

Dear brother, when you get this you will give me an answer as soon as possible whither you intend to come over here or not, and if you do come I will send my horse and cart to take you out here from Dunedin.

No more at present but remains your affectionate brother and sister.

Betsy & Hugh Yorston

Letter from Elizabeth Marwick (A20) and her husband Hugh Yorston in New Zealand to her brother Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

July 14th 1866

Dear Brother and Sister and Children.

I once more take the pleasure of writing you this few lines hoping and earnestly wishing this will find you all well as this leaves me.

Dear Brother we received your long expected letter of the 11th which I hope you will not be so long in writing us again.  I think you are afraid to come to New Zealand but I think you need not for you would get plenty of work here now.  And I spoke to Thomas and Isaac about the house and they are quite agreeable for you to have it and there is no more signs of them to go to it than before.  So if you now intend coming over here I think the sooner the better for they may soon change their mind.

James Harrold is been here for about two months and he is building a fine new craft and Richard is going up with him to do the iron work of her, and they are to sail tomorrow.  She is 70 ft of keel and 21 ft wide and Hugh Marwick (A53) is still working at her in Stewart Island.

You were wanting to know the price of cattle.  Good milk cows from 7 to 12 pound and fat bullocks from 10 to 12 pound, and flour 16 shillings per ton and potatoes from £3 to £5.  Oats is taken a rise 4s 9d per bushel, butter 2s 6d, eggs 2s.

Your father is in good health.  Ann is in Tokomairiro, a servant and in good health.  William Gibson is stopping with Sinclair Harrold and in good health.  Your Brother John is bought Finchey (?) with Uncle of Broland and John of Knarston.

We have had a very fine Harvest and likewise a fine Winter so far, yet we have had scarce any rain as yet, but there is plenty of water here all seasons.  The cattle disease is not visited as yet and we are not thinking long for it.  We are expecting the railroad to commence here soon and it will make a stir amongst us again.

Walter and Julia and family is in good health and got another son little Richard, and Thomas never forgets you.  They are going to school every day and reading in the 4 book.

No more at present but remains your dear brother and sister.

Betsy & Hugh Yorston

Letter from Robert Sinclair (A606) of Swandale, Rousay to his daughter Margaret Sinclair (A622) and her husband Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

Swandale, Rousay
June 6th 1868

Dearly Beloved Son & Daughter.

I am surprised you never wrote me for a large time back and what the reasons can be.  I have sent two letters and got no answer, and Robert informs me that he has done the same.  We are all keeping as usual except myself confined over a month with the influence and it has made me very weak.  What the result may be we know not, but we know that by the course of Nature our Earthly journey is approaching to an end when we shall not have it in our power to write to one and other.

After giving you this weakness of mine, hope you will write me in haste and let me know all about you and your family and all others belonging to Rousay so far as you know.

A letter from you Margaret would greatly oblige me and your stepmother.

Dearly beloved son, your friends are all well and doing well.  Your Uncle John of Ervadale has lost the most of his memory but still keeps quiet and is in good health.

Dear Margaret, your sister has a boy and a girl, healthy stout bairns.  We have got no letter from James your brother for 20 months.

If you see Louttit tell him his father allowed me to write you concerning him and that he is surprised that he has forgotten him in the time of his greatest need, not so much as write him.

Dear Margaret, I find you promised to send your portrait but never did.

Dear Margaret, your friends in Stenisgorn, Newhouse, Tratland and Cruesday are all well in health and well to do and no changes either by death or marriage.

You may tell the Gibsons that their father, mother and brother is as usual and doing remarkable in that house so please let us know all about them.  And tell Inkster that I have wrote him and never got an answer.  Tell him also to write and let me know how he is doing.

James Grieve is going to cod and herring fishing as usual.

Yours with Esteem.

Robert Sinclair

Letter from Thomas Marwick (A4) in New Zealand to his son Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

October 28, 1869

My Dear Son and Daughter and Children.

I take this opportunity to write you this few lines to let you know that I am as well as can be expected at present, thanks be to God for his mercies.  We received your letter and is glad that you are all well.

Isabella is well and is got another added to their family.  It is a girl and her name is Mary Ann.  Your brother Isaac and wife is well.  Her name is Isabella Miller.  She is a Scots woman and they are stopping in their house you put up. They have about 10 acres under crop this year.  

Your brother Thomas is well and is stopping with your brother in law as grieve.  Your sister Ann is well and is in town as a servant.  Mr Yorston and wife and family is all well.  Their son James is learning for a schoolmaster if he can get the opportunity.

Mr Sinclair Harrold and wife never forgets to speir for you and how you are getting on and why be not coming here.  They say they would be very glad to see you here again.

Hugh Marwick of Guidal is gone home.  We had a letter from home just now and your brother John and wife is well and doing well, and so is your sister Margaret and family.  Your Uncle John of Ervadale is not very well.  I hear that he is very forgetful and can do no business himself.

We are having very fine weather here for these last 2 months and it is like to be a dry season here too.  Cattle is very cheap here at present.  Rootwork is very dole at present too, but we hope things will soon be better.

I am going to send you my portrait to keep in remembrance of me.  You will see your brother in law standing along with me.  He is my best friend.  He is very kind to me.  He is as kind as your sister Bella and you know she is kind enough and I want for nought.

I would like to know of John Harrold, how he is getting on, and of John Gibson, how is he getting on, and of Thomas Inkster, how is he getting on, and Mrs Gibson, how is she getting on?

We had a letter from home and all your friends are well at present.  But your Uncle of Ervadale he is very forgetful and can do nothing himself unless somebody is with him.

Your brother John is well and family and so is your sister Margaret and family.

I have no more news at present.

I remain your father.

Thomas Marwick

Letter from James Harrold in Australia, on a visit from NZ, to a cousin, probably of the Hugh Marwick (A19) family in NSW.

Richmond River, NS Wales
8th September 1873

My ever dear Cousin.

Your kind letter of the 30th June came to me and I need not tell you that I was thankful to hear of you all being well, for I shall always love to hear from your dear kind wife and family.

I would have written before to you, but I was expecting to see you myself in Melbourne, as I sent for my wife to come there for a short time, but she was not able to take the voyage.  So I am to go to her soon now, but shall with God’s help see you and some more of my old friends yet in Melbourne as soon as I am able.

I expect to be in New Zealand in about 4 months time.  I do love this part of the world well, for I am found some kind friends in it and I should much want to stop here if my home was not already established on Stewart Island.

I have been through New South Wales and Queensland and admire its fine rivers and inland country, and once I began to know and trade with them I thought long to leave them.  I was about 90 miles up this said river and the people is so kind and homely in their way.

You will please to remember me to your Brother and tell him that I shall come out to his place and see him if able, when I see you.  Our friends in New Zealand is all well and doing very well I believe.

I hope this will find you well as it leaves me and shall always be glad to hear from you and family.  Remember me to your children and do tell your dear wife from me that I shall still think of her will all love and respects for her kind acceptance of me.

I must say farewell just now, until it is the will of God that we shall meet, and am with all love and respect.

Your very true and affectionate friend

J Harrold

Letter from James Yorston (A59) in New Zealand to his uncle Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia. First part of the letter is missing. Date unknown, but probably late 1870s or early 1880s.

……….James Harrold is in Stewart Island, yet I have heard no word from him this last year.  He was building a craft, but I am afraid it will never be finished as he has no money.

Hugh Marwick is a carpenter.  William Gibson is keeping fine and earning plenty of money.  His sister Janet is pretty badly off.  The man is an idle whelp;  all he is good for is to drink.  They have no money.  They were nearly sold out 8 months ago.

Sinclair Harrold is doing well.  William Harrold does not starve.  Christ knows he plants not his loaf in the…..(??)…..for himself but shares it frugally with his Mrs and family.  All the rest of the Orkney people as far as I know is doing well, except David Trumbton;  he is expected to die very soon and all hopes of his recovery is vain.

Otago is a pretty flourishing condition at present.  Flour is pretty cheap here.  Oats 2s 9d per bushel, wheat 3s to 5s do.  Farming scarcely pays a man here, for to hire labour the oats will scarcely clear expenses.  The road works is going on pretty well here just now.

If you intend to cross come quickly.  Stay not, take up your bed, Mrs and family, make the attempt.

James of Tireola (?) has gone home.  He ruined himself in London with his chest and he will not sneeze so bright in Orkney as he expected when he left here.

We have heard no word from home this last 5 years.  They are forsaken us.

When you come across, you will remember that tools is cheaper there than here, so you will take a good supply of them with you.  I should like very much that you take one or two of them.  Affectments for fencing which bores the ground up like an auger (?).  I don’t know their name but you will.  It would be very handy here for fencing with, as I don’t think there is any of them at this side.

Write and let us know when you get this, when you intend to start and when you think you would be in Dunedin.  We would be with the horse and cart to take you out immediately you land.

Walter and family is in good health.  He is getting on with his farm.

I have no much news in particular to write you or else I would fill pages to you.  I expect to be here and then you will know everything as well as I.

I remain yours affecly

James Yorston

Letter from Robert Sinclair (A606) of Swandale, Rousay to his daughter Margaret Sinclair (A622) and her husband Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia. Probable Date 1879/1880.

Swandale, Rousay

Beloved Brethren.

This tells you how the people of Stenisgorn (Hugh Sinclair A612 & Isabella Gibson A235) are doing.

Their oldest daughter (Mary Sinclair) is married with the Laird of Hullion (John Inkster Craigie A649). 

Their daughter Ann Sinclair with James Alexander (B395) in Faraclett have one boy and a girl.

Their other daughter Janet Sinclair (A282) with James Craigie (A810) of Claybank.

And Isabella Sinclair a very strong young woman unmarried (she m. David Inkster in 1885).

David Sinclair their oldest son goes to the fishing.

Their son Hugh Sinclair goes on the Steamer Packet – married the youngest daughter of Hullion.

Their son James married to Betsy Alexander, went to Edinburgh to an aunt of hers and is stopping with them.

Their son John he is a joiner and works at the house.

Newhouse have only one son (Hugh Sinclair A637) and a daughter (Anne Craigie Sinclair A636).  She is married with David Gibson (A242) of Langskaill in a farm in Walls with six girls and one boy.  Hugh Sinclair (A637) their son married Maggie McKinlay – no child as yet.

Dear Brethren, this will tire you in reading it but I do it for your amusement for I like news myself.  I am obliged to Mr Thomas your son for the wise letter he wrote me – compliments to Thomas your son and family. 

I know it would be too troublesome on your part Margaret to ask for your likeness and your beloved husband and little Margaret and any of the rest that have a desire to put it.

Now I conclude, may the Lord work in you all a work of grace for his own namesake.

Your much esteemed father and faithful friend.

Robert Sinclair
Christian Inkster or Sinclair

Letter from Robert Sinclair (A606) of Swandale, Rousay to his daughter Margaret (A622) and her husband Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

Swandale, Rousay
August 15th 1882

Thank God we have one another to write together, dearly beloved son & daughter & the children.

This leaves us much the same as before, but the old are getting weaker and worse.  My wife has been confined for 6 weeks, but she is a little better but very weak and likely will be the same.

We had a letter from our Robert lately but no news on it worth speaking of.  He does not say whether he is to come home and stop.  Neither did you learn if he was to marry with anyone there.  We heard he was to marry with Harriet Begg, a daughter of one that he stopped with.  She came to Orkney some 2 or 3 years ago and stopped with her uncle Mr Calder, Mr Balfour’s factor, until he died.  Whether she went away or is still in Orkney I know not.

Robert is getting on and has passed the age forty four mark (May 8th 1882).  And if he married and had children, when his eldest child is twenty he willl be sixty four.  It is time he had been married twenty years ago.  (Robert Sinclair (A628) went to NZ and m. Jane Mutch in 1885 in Dunedin.)

I went to John of Woo (John Marwick A21) to give him a bit of a scolding why he did not write you.  Dear Thomas I went to Woo to give him your compliments and wishes to your sister.  They seemed to pay no attention to you at all.

Your brother John (A21) had a son whose name is Robert and he has been with Samuel of Bigland since he could do a man’s work.  He is in love with a daughter of William Louttit (B8) and her name is Matilda (B14).  Leonard of Woo and Bigland does not want him to marry her as her mother is a daughter of old Peter Leonard (B300).  I cannot tell you now but if spared I shall tell you afterwards. 

If you see John Marwick Craigie’s brother Jim, could you tell him his mother is a poor widow and if he could write her a note it would do her good.

Tell John Harold his father is working on The Loam every day, getting old Alexander Grieve labouring with him when he is not at the sea. 

I cannot give you much more news at this time; give me all the news you can. 

We ………. all your pictures in safety.

I give a father’s affection for your remembrance of us.

Write soon Dear Margaret.  When I write you it takes a tear from your mother’s eye.

Yours truly

Robert Sinclair

Letter from Richard Craigie (A827) in New Zealand to his Brother in Law, Hugh Marwick (A19), in Australia.

Riverbank Farm
Taieri Ferry
Sept 25th 1882

Mr Hugh Marwick,

My Brother in Law It is now so long since I had a letter from you that I am sorry to say we have almost lost acquaintance.  In the meantime I send a letter from Rousay for your perusal which you will be kind enough to forward to your Brother William also, after you have read its contents of course.  The letter will speak for itself.  You will see my reason for sending it to you.  I do not know William’s address or I would write to him.  But I trust you will do that for me.

My family is all well at present.  All your friends here is in good health.  Your brothers Thomas and Isaac is stopping with us at present.

My three oldest boys is now working our farm.  They are growing tall 6 feet and 13 stone weight.

A few lines from you at your convenience would be gladly received.  My wife wants to be remembered to you and Mrs Marwick.  If William Yorston is near to you, tell him I would be glad to hear from him.

Yours Respectfully

Richard Craigie

Taieri Ferry
Henley P.O.

Letter from John Craigie (A819) and his wife Betsy Sinclair (A625) in Rousay to Hugh Marwick (A19) and his wife Margaret Sinclair (A622) in Australia.

Rousay August the 25th 1883

Dear Brother and Sister.

I now write you this few lines to let you know that we are all in our usual state of health thank God for it, hoping this may find you enjoying the same.  There is very little of importance to write you of.  Our harvest work is coming fast on and the herring fishing is about finished and they have made a very grand fishing.

We are happy to hear from your father’s letter that you were all well, but we were surprised that you did not write us and let us know how you were doing and how our son John was getting on.  Please be kind enough to write as soon as you receive this and let us know how John is getting on, for he has given his mother very much uneasiness concerning him, as he never thinks of writing her to let her know whether he is dead or alive.  Please let us know what his employment is, if he is able to do any work, or is he in the hospital.

You mentioned in your letter that he visited you frequently, but you never said what his employment was and (what) he has been doing since he came to Melbourne.  Please do your utmost to get him to write a few lines to his poor mother.  If he is still out of health we think that he would be better to come home as it appears he is not keeping his health in that country.

When you write, let us know how all your family is employed and how all the Rousay people is getting on.  Betsy wishes her sister Margaret to write a few lines herself to her and let her know all the particulars concerning herself.

No more at present, but remain your affectionate Brother and Sister till death.

John and Betsy till death.

Letter from David Craigie (A657) in Rousay to his aunt Margaret Sinclair (A622) and her husband Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

Faldown, Sourin, Rousay
26 August 1883

Dear Uncle & Aunt.

I now take the pleasure of writing you this few lines to let you know that we are all in the usual state of health thank God, for it is for all his other mercies from time to time for they are very many.  Hoping that this will find you all the same. 

Well we have had a very fine summer here this year, so for as yet, and it is looking to be a very fine harvest and the crops are looking fair.

My Grandfather received your letter last night and saw that you were all quite well and my mother wished me to write now and see how my brother John Harrold was.  Thomas said in his letter that he came up to your house occasionally and we would like to know where he is making his abode and if he is working, and what he is working at.  Mother thought that he is unwell and that he is stopping in the hospital.  Has he been working at any work since he went to Australia or not, so I hope John will try and get his heart softened and see if he will not write a few lines home to his mother.  Well, I think that will be enough on that subject.

I have been serving a time for a joiner in Rousay and now my apprenticeship is finished and I am working to the same old Master yet, but it will not be long now if I be spared.  I wish I was only in Melbourne beside my old Aunt.  I don’t think I would be so hard up.  If I only could save half as much now as Cousin Hugh did at his apprenticeship I would be very contented.  We are working in Rousay here for 10s a week and if we had no other help that would not keep us.

My father is writing a piece to you too and it is no use to me to give you more news.  The fact is I have no more to write of, but be sure when you write to tell all my cousins to put in a bit since it is the first time that we have ever spoken to one another and I would like very well if your youngest daughter would put home her likeness then I will put off mine.

Since I have gone home, Uncle Samuel’s wife and family is stopping in our house at present.

Now I think since my paper is getting little I will be as good to say goodbye.  With best wishes to Uncle and yourself and all the family and also brother John.

No more but remains

David Craigie

Letter from Robert Sinclair (A606) of Swandale, Rousay to his grandson Thomas Marwick in Australia, son of Hugh Marwick (A19) and daughter Margaret (A622). The date is probably 1883/1884.

Swandale, Rousay

Thomas Marwick, Dear Respectable Sir

We received your wise and welcome letter dated the 24th May and we were sorry to hear of your mother being so very unwell.  You told us all about John Harrold and all about the Begg lass and how she met with two of her brothers and went to see India with them.  But where she is now you could not tell.

But as for Robert my son (A628) you know nothing about him for he is many miles away from you across the sea (in NZ).  Well, well, you write him and tell him to write to his parents that we may know where he is and what he is doing.

From us all together I hope you will excuse my bad writing for my hand shakes.

We have news of some help.  We fall down sometimes and must be carried in to get some refreshment to make us better.  Then it may be a day or two before the old wife and me get out of bed again.

I hope you will tell Robert my son to write by the first Mail and tell us all about himself.

Our daily support is from Hugh [youngest son]. Chiefly we do get what he thinks is good for us God bless him and do him good.

I cannot give you a long letter at this time for I am tired of writing.

Your obedient servant

Robert’s affectionate father and mother until death.

Robert Sinclair
Christian Inkster (Mrs Sinclair)

Letter from David Craigie (A657) in Rousay to his cousin in Australia, probably Hugh Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19).

Faldown, Sourin, Rousay
January 10th 1884

Dear Cousin

I now take the opportunity of writing you this few lines in answer to your letter and we were glad to see from it that you were all right as it leaves us at the present time.  My grandfather has not been well for some time back but he is a little better now again.  We are hoping that he is on the recovery again.

We have had a fair Winter here this year, very little snow fell.  We had a very beautiful New Year’s Day here this year and a very happy one.  In the morning I went to Swandale, then Uncle Hugh and me went across to the island of Egilsay and spent most of the day there.  And in the evening we came back again and I went to Scockness to a dancing which was at night.

Your mother will know about that house when she hears about it.  My sister Christina is stopping in it.  My youngest sister is still going to the school.  She is in the 6th Standard.  She is not going longer or this quarter.

I had a letter from James Tulloch yesterday and he said on it that he had received one from Cousin Hugh just before and he said that John Harrold was got down to you from the sheep shearing.

That was very glad news to my mother to hear from him that he is well.  He says that he is going out again in 5 weeks.  I am also thinking to go out with him if I can get ready.  I was in his house in Shapinsay a night after he came home and he gave me lots of news about Australia and New Zealand.

You can tell your mother that she put my mother in a bad state about that rings which you put home with Tulloch.  She thought that one of them was to her and so did he.  For you said that it was to my sister so she thought that it was to her and she was very proud.  It would only go on her little finger so she had it keeping till Swandale got that letter which told them that the ring was for Mrs Stevenson.  When my mother heard of it she was very vexed so we put it over to her.

My mother has got a coat wrought for your mother of her own sheep.  If I come off I will have it with me and if not we will put it with Tulloch.

I got that cards and papers which you sent.  Mother thought Aunt was very well like still.  You can tell your sister that I was very glad to get her card.

I have nothing of any importance to write you about at present.  I will write you again before I start.  Give my best wishes to all inquiring friends not forgetting yourself.

Yours truly

David Craigie

Letter from Elizabeth Craigie (A658), age 13, in Rousay, to her cousin Margaret Marwick in Australia, daughter of Hugh Marwick (A19) and Margaret Sinclair (A622).

15th Jan 1884

Dear Cousin

I now sit down to write you this few lines to let you know that we are all well at present, thank God for it.  My mother has not been very well for some time but she is a little better now.

I have not a New Year’s card or else you would have got it.  I was telling you before that my mother was not very well, but I forgot to tell you that the doctor was twice at her and they told that it was cold and damp feet that she had got.

Isaac Marwick of Essaquoy has got married with a daughter (Sarah) of John Harrold this year.  David is sitting here and he will not let me alone.  Jane and Thomas Sinclair of Swandale is still going to the school.  Jane is in the fifth std and Thomas is in the second std.  Grandmother is wearing three gold rings on her fingers.

I am going to enclose my letter with some of my hair and you must send me some of yours.  You will tell me how John (Harrold) my brother is and if he has got all right again.  Tell your mother to write to my mother a few lines because she thinks that she is forgot all about her and she wants to know the reason.  Grandfather has been very unwell for about two month and has hardly been out of his bed.

You must write to myself and not to David.  Give my best respects to uncle and aunt.

I am yours truly

Elizabeth Craigie

To Margaret Jane Marwick  

Letter from David Craigie (A657) in Rousay to his cousin Hugh Marwick in Australia, son of Hugh Marwick (A19) and Margaret Sinclair (A622).

Faldown, Sourin, Rousay
Thursday 20th March 1884

Mr Hugh Marwick jun.

Dear Cousin

I now improve the opportunity of writing you this few lines, to let you know we are in our usual state of health thank God, for it is for all his other mercies from time to time for they are very many.  Hoping this will find you the same.

We have had a very awkward Winter here this year of very high winds and rain.  It has kept the work rather behind, but I hope that it will soon be taking a change for the better.

Just the other day there was 2 well known men belonging to the island [William Louttit, Lower Blackhammer, and John Kirkness, Grain] that was going across to Evie for the Doctor.  It came a breeze of wind and the boat upset and both of them were lost.  It has put a great gloom over the whole island.  They left their widows and small families.

Your brother said in his last letter that he was going to get brother John to write home, but we have seen none.

Well Hugh, I intend coming off to your place with the mail steamer (The Orient) along with the Tulloch men.  We will leave London on the 16th April so I would be very much obliged if you would try and meet the Steamer when she comes for I will be no ways aquaint when I come there.  And if you would also tell John Harrold I would like very much to see him also.  We would have left a fortnight sooner but I had a letter from Tulloch yesterday and his sister in law has not been very well and was not very able to take a sea voyage, so they put it back 2 weeks.  James Tulloch is not going at this time but 2 of his brothers is going.  It will be company on the ship for me.

My mother has not been very stout of the winter and she is not well yet.  My old Grandfather died and Grandmother I don’t think that it will be long that she will trouble anyone neither.

I will have to be drawing to a close now as I have nothing more of any importance to tell you of.  Give my best and kindest wishes to all inquiring friends not forgetting yourself.

I remain your affectionate cousin till Death.

David Craigie

Letter from David Craigie (A657) in London, while on his way to Australia, to his sister Elizabeth (A658), (age 13) in Rousay.

During the voyage 21-year-old David died of heatstroke as the ship passed through the Red Sea.

April 11th 1884

Miss Elizabeth Craigie

Dear Sister.

I now embrace the opportunity of writing you this few lines to let you know that I am quite well at present, hoping this will find you all the same when you receive it.  I suppose that you have got the few lines which I wrote in Aberdeen.

We did not start the time that I said in the letter which I wrote home, but the ship was delayed for 12 hours in Aberdeen and I can assure you that we were not sorry for that because we had a very fine view of the town.  We went into a music hall that evening.  It was just about as fine a sight as ever I saw.  It was a very fine ornamented room and then there was 2 most beautiful girls came out and danced to the music and they could do it.

We arrived in London this day at 12 o’clock noon.  It was a very fine sight coming up the River Thames.  The wheat was all growing about the river banks and when we came into the pier there was a man all ready for taking up our chests and luggage.  And now we are stopping with him for the time that we will be in London.  We pay 2/6 a night for 5 nights that is bed and board.  It was the cheapest that we could get.

I will have plenty of money to do me.  I bought a waterproof coat in Aberdeen and now I am as well fitted up as any of my companions.  I am enjoying myself very well.  We had a very fine passage from Aberdeen to London.  I felt no sickness.

You can tell Mother that I finished my hen, but that I will have cheese to last me to Melbourne.

Well Dear Sister, I am sure I do not know what more I will write you about, because everything is new to me and I am not acquainted with it.

Tell Mother that I would like an oat bannock and a sap of sweet milk now fine.   But that is not to say that I cared for milk and the white bread well enough.

You will have to excuse me for bad writing, for I am in a hurry for my dinner.

The black cow will not be calved yet.  I should think that her time will now be up.

Give Uncle Tom and Mary my best wishes and all the little ones.  Tommy would not shake hands with me before I left.  He said ………. but he will shake hands with ………. of Swandale.  I am going to write him the next night as I don’t have any time just now.

I will write Father and Mother before I start.  Ask Christina if she got her letter all right.

I am your affectionate brother till Death.

David Craigie

Part of a letter from Hugh Sinclair  of Swandale, Rousay to his half sister Margaret Sinclair (A622) in Australia regarding the recent death of their nephew David Craigie. The date is probably June/July 1884.

…..I am writing this myself without asking them anything, but I write for you the particulars.  Some time after they will be telling you what for to do with his effects.  I heard the mother saying that she would like John Harrold for to get the whole lot, but the sister is anxious that some of the things should come back.  Agan I think they will write and tell you all about it when they recover from their great trial.

David was a very fine lad and I had a great liking for him myself.  He just made as homely on Swandale as I did.  He had a very lightsome turn about him, and as I have heard ever so many say, that he about the best natural lad that ever they saw.  I hope that it will all be for his good and that he will be in a better land than Australia.

Your mother is keeping middling and has thought rather lonely since father died, but still she is wonderful mulling putting a headstone to the remains some time soon.  The ones in the churchyard are of free stone and cost about £3, but I would have an inclination of having one of granite stone.  They are made either in Aberdeen or Peterhead.  Aberdeen’s is of a reddish colour and Peterhead’s of a grayish colour.

Your daughter will find one from your sister.  There are two pairs of fancy socks, one each for your two sons.  I think it is all ticketed.  I think there were two pairs for John Harold wrought and given by his sister.  There were also I think two pairs of common ones, wrought and given by his grandmother.  If the fancy ones are not ticketed I am sure of one pair of them for they were wrought the rock pattern and not another pair in the chest the same…..

Letter from Elizabeth Craigie (A658) in Rousay to her uncle and aunt in Australia, Hugh Marwick (A19) and Margaret Sinclair (A622). The probable date is late 1884 after the death of Elizabeth’s brother David Craigie on 6 May 1884 during the voyage to Australia. – The first part of the letter is missing.

……….Now Dearest friends, do with his things as if it had been your own.  My mother would like well if you could get his clothes to wear make the best of it you can, and send home the money to his sister Christina because she gave him £6 10s.

When the letters came mother was in an awful state.  Uncle Hugh of Swandale and father had to bear her in.  Christina has not much money and she is coming home to stop with us and she wants my brother John Harrold to come home too, and so do we all.  My mother would like very well to see him.  You will try to get him to write.

The people of Swandale is all finally well and Uncle Tom has got a little baby.  Uncle Hugh has been a true friend to us.  He was in a great distress about David and said they were not a brother he loved like him.  He gave him £5 in a present when he went off to buy a watch with and he gave Christina her blacks.   Christina was in an awful state when we got the news.  They had to cart her home and she was beside my mother one week.  We are afraid of her that sets down on to lungs.

I will have to be drawing to a close for I have to go out with the cow.  Tell Margaret Jane to write a letter to her cousin Elizabeth.

No more at present but remaining your affectionate cousin till death.

Elizabeth Craigie

Letter from Robert Sinclair (A628) in NZ to his sister Margaret Marwick (A622) in Australia.

Oct 5th 1885

Dear Sister

I take the pleasure of writing you this few lines to let you know that I am in good health.  Hoping this may find you and your family in the same.

Well Margaret, I have got something new to tell you of this time.  Just fancy, I have got married at last.  I daresay you will be thinking that it is not before time, but better late than never.  At least I think so myself and I may tell you that I have made a very good choice.  The young lady I have married I have known her for this last 20 years.  She is an only daughter.  Her parents are farmers here and they belong to Aberdeen in Scotland.  Her maiden name is Jane Ann Mutch, now I am happy to say has been altered to Mrs Sinclair.  She is very much esteemed by everyone that knows her.

I daresay you will be fancying that I am like to the rest of old fools getting married to some young thing about 18 or 20 years old.  But such is not the case.  She is 32 years old.  So you see that we are not so very badly matched. [Robert was 38 years old when they married].  I think that she is very much about your own size, as far as I can recollect of you.  She sends you one of our photos, also some of the cattle.

I made the final plunge last month.  We were married on the 15th of September in Dunedin by the Rev Doctor Stewart and I can assure you that I am not regretting the step I have taken because I have got a good partner throughout life.

I just fancy I can see little Hugh laughing when he hears of this wonderful event.  I wrote him some months ago but did not mention anything about it to him.  I am surprised that he has never answered my letter.

Now Dear Sister I must conclude.  Jane joins with me in sending her kind love to you all.  No more at present.

Your affectionate Brother and Sister, R & J A Sinclair

R Sinclair
c/o Mrs Wm Paterson

Letter from Thomas Craigie (B32) in New Zealand to his cousin Thomas Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19), in Australia.

Henley P.O. River Bank
Otago, N.Z. December 7th 1885

My Dear Cousin.

I received your letter some time ago, but I have been so busy lately I could not find time, but it is better late than never as the good proverb says.

When I first heard of my Dear Cousin’s death (Hugh Marwick), I was almost panic struck.  He was such an intimate friend of mine that really it came very hard on me.  I used to have regular correspondence with him and we used to write each other very jolly letters too.  But everything must come to an end.  He was very warmly welcomed over here by everybody who knew him and his Death was deeply regretted by all who knew him.  However, it is all over now and we can only hope to see him at our own Call.

The weather here has been excellent for some time back and the crops are looking well.  The heat here has been very great, more than it has been for some time back.  I see by the papers it has been very warm over with you too.

I received the papers which you sent me all right and I can only thank you for being so kind to send them.  And I am still thankful that I have still somebody to correspond with.  I know the death of your Dear Brother must have been a dreadful stroke to you, but I hope you will get over it all right.

How is Will Yorston getting on now.  I never hear from him at all.  I suppose he is busy sheep-shearing now.  The shearing over here is in full swing now, but wages are very cheap this year.  A lot of the run-holders clubbed together and it was decided to bring it down from 16s 8d a hundred to 12s 6d, but really it was not fair.  Wool has been selling at 6d a pound over here, and as wool was so cheap that’s how wages was reduced.  We are going in for stock now more than cropping.

The Yorstons and Sinclairs are all enjoying good health at present and Thank God we are all doing the same.  I hope that through our correspondence we will get more intimate and I shall be able to write a longer letter next.  Well I must conclude with best respects to all and not forgetting yourself.

I remain your affectionate Cousin

Thomas Craigie

To Thomas Marwick

Letter from Hugh Sinclair of Swandale, Rousay, to his nephew Thomas Marwick in Australia, son of Hugh Marwick (A19) and daughter Margaret (A622). The date is probably 1885/1886.

Swandale, Rousay

Mr T Marwick

Dear Nephew

It was with great sorrow that I read your letter regarding the death of your brother (Hugh Marwick d. 1885).  It was no doubt a great shock to you all his hard parting with those we love although for their own God.  But it was a great comfort for to see him dying in the full hope of meeting his God in peace.

Dear nephew, you may tell your dear mother, father and sisters that we all sympathise with you in your affliction.  I may tell your mother that her sister (Betsy Sinclair A625) got as great a shock when she got the news of the death of her son, and now her dear husband is laid aside and there is no hope of his recovery.  The disease is a very bad one, a cancer on the back bowel, so you see what trouble some is born to.

They have daughters, one (Christina Craigie) is I believe about to get married to a William Grieve, second son of Robert Grieve that was in Furss.  He has been some time out in America.  She is 24 years of age and the other one (Elizabeth Craigie) is 14. She will be a great comfort to her mother.

They built a nice house on Faldown a few years ago.  They very likely will quit the farm and stop in the house.  Farms are not worth having at the present time.  I never saw such poor times in Orkney in all my life.

A few years ago times were good and farms were paying splendidly and they rose in value, some double. Now, cattle is about a third down, horses and sheep nearly half. The proprietors in the good times borrowed lots of money for improving their lands and paid at the rate of 6%.  When the times were good I did well enough with proprietors and tenants, but now when cattle is come so low and produce of all ………. the same. They have got their outwarning. I understand that it is Mainland that they are spiteful at and they are afraid John is not fit for to sit up to it.

We have one of the most tyrannical proprietors in Orkney.  The farm of Woo is £50 of rent.  It is a good farm but there are no houses on it except the stable.  John was at him the other day and he told him that there were lots of offers in for it and he did not think that he could hire it to him, but he may soften yet.

John is beginning for to fail very much.  There are lots of other farms on the stages and most likely they will be looking after some of them.

George Gibson’s brother [David of Knarston] is all right again.  He married Ann Gibson of Broland.  They have had two of a family, a son and a daughter.  The son died when about 3 years of age.  The daughter got a paralytic stroke some time ago and she can barely walk.  You see that troubles are not left to one only.

I am sorry to say that my mother has not got her likeness and I am rather afraid that she will not be able to go to town.  We will see through the year.  I may say that everybody is astonished for to see her.  She will like now have passed 80 years of age.

This has been the poorest fishing year that I think the oldest men remember and I may state that the cod boats have not been out I think except once.  These 4 or 5 weeks you will think that strange in the middle of summer.  The herring fishing is at hand and there is none of them agreed.  Yet last year was a bad year for the curers and I understand they have been offering 10/- per cran.  I remember them at £1/4 so you see what poor times we are having.

We are now in the midst of another election.  It is only about 8 months since we had one before our government divided upon an Irish question.  The Liberals are wanting that country for to get Home Rule.  The Tories wants for to rule them by the British Government.  So they have appealed to the country.

The government has of late passed what they call the Crofters Bill.  It extends to £30 of rent.  I do not come under it.  It will help them a little but their great cry was for more land and I believe there will be something done in that respect yet.

I must now close with kind love to you all meantime.

I remain your affectionate uncle Hugh Sinclair.

Try if you cannot get any information about John Harrold. 

Letter from Hugh Sinclair (A632) in Rousay to his nephew Thomas Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19) in Australia.

Swandale, Rousay
July 24th 1886

Mr Thomas Marwick

Dear Nephew

I received your kind letter and was glad to see by it that you were all in your usual way, as I am happy to say the same of ourselves.

We are now almost through with our turnip singling which is now about the latter end of summer which has been a very cold and wet one.  We had a very severe Winter what we call nowadays one of the old Winters which your mother can tell you about.  After such a one we expected one of the old Summers but we have been disappointed.  The weather is nothing like what it was in your mother’s childhood.  She will can tell you about them being troubled with the cows running in the hot weather.  I have not seen them doing so this 20 years.  It may be another kind of cattle, but no doubt the weather is nothing near so warm.

John Craigie (A819) died on the 4th of May and was buried on the 6th, just 2 years after the death of his son (David Craigie who died of heatstroke in the Red Sea on his way to Australia).  Betsy (A625, widow of John Craigie) is very much broken down.  The oldest daughter (Christina A656) is going for to get married to William Grieve (B253), son of Robert Grieve of Furse.  He has been out in America.  He is precentor in the Free Church.  He will most likely stop in Fall Down (Fa’doon) and work on the land, and Betsy will live about hands.  The other daughter (Elizabeth A658) will likely take service in times, and home in times they are not reduced.

I do not know if ever your mother got the copy of her father’s will.  I can send it if she likes.  I may state that she has the same as the rest.  My mother is life rented.

You were wanting for to know about your Uncle John.  I am sorry to say that he is likely to be evicted from his farm at the term.  There was one Peter Mainland in the farm with him.  Some of the children was suspected to write some threatening letters to the Laird, but everybody was certain that it was none of them.  It makes the farmers not able to pay their rents and plenty of the Lairds is not able for to give them the downcome that they would need so what it will turn to one cannot say.

In our large cities there is thousands going starving.  I saw in a paper the other night 60,000 unemployed going through the streets of London, and in some of these large towns the authorities is giving them a diet for a penny just for to keep them alive.  Trade of all kind appears to be at a standstill.

You said that John Harrold was still in Melbourne, but did not say if you knew what he was doing.  A letter from him to his Mother I am sure would be a great comfort now in her time of trouble.  If you see him, be kind enough for to tell him that I would make a few lines very welcome and I would give him lots of news about the young girls.

Dear Sister (he’s writing to his nephew!) Mother wishes to be remembered to you.  She is now over 80 years of age and is still able for to be out of bed, and move about.  She is still able for to knit my stockings, for you see, I have not got anyone for to do it but her.  I have not been so fortunate as got a wife to myself.  I keep a old young wife for to keep the house in order.

Tom is still stopping at the house.  He goes to the fishing and works to me when not at sea.  He has got four of a family.  The eldest is a girl and she is 11 years of age.  2nd a boy who is 8, the other two are girls 6 and 3 years of age.

Samuel (Sinclair A631) is still in the PO in Edinburgh.  He has got four of a family.  The oldest is a son 17, the next two girls 13 and 6, the youngest a boy 3.

Now I will have to be drawing to a close.  I hope this will find you all in good health. I see that you have shifted from your old place of abode which you were at for a long time.  Please be kind enough for to write me soon again, and with kind love to you all.

I remain yours truly

H Sinclair

Letter from Elizabeth Craigie (B33) in NZ, to her cousin Thomas Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19), in Australia.

River Bank
March 2nd 1887

My Dear Cousin.

I have been a most shameful time in answering your letter, but better late than never.  We are all in our usual state of health at present and so are all our friends so far as I am aware of.

We are having a very hot summer and plentiful crops, though we had a very heavy storm of wind about three weeks ago which destroyed a great deal of property.  The oldest settlers never remember having such a storm before.

Well dear Thomas, we are still fighting the battle of life as best we can, though I can assure you the loss of our dear mother [Isabella] has been a great blow to us all, for she was so kind and gentle to all around her, that one could not help loving her.

I remember so well the day your brother Hugh went away.  She followed him up the road as far as Mrs Mitchell’s and she told me when she kissed him and said goodbye to him, she said she would never see him here again and he said to her that they would meet in heaven.  I have no doubt they have met there now.  Not so very long between their deaths either, but it is the way of the world and our turn will come too, sooner or later.

I am sorry to tell you that Mrs Mitchell, that is George Gibson’s sister, has lost her respect in the district all together.  There was a man, the name of Brooks, came to work at the New Bridge, a very little worth man.  He had been married twice before, one wife still living, and he has taken up with her and she has had a child to him.  The two oldest girls are at service and now none of her old friends take any notice of her.  It is a great pity to think she has so far forgotten herself.

Let me know when you write how cousin Annie and Will Yorston are getting on.  Give our best love to dear Aunt and Uncle and tell Uncle I want his photo.  Also to dear Maggie and your own dear self.

Believe me dear Thomas

Your affect cousin

Lizzie Craigie

Letter from Hugh Sinclair of Swandale, Rousay,  to his nephew Thomas Marwick in Australia, son of Hugh Marwick (A19) and Margaret Sinclair (A622).

Swandale, Rousay
July 20th 1887

Mr Thos Marwick

Dear Nephew

I once more take the opportunity of writing you. I am happy to say this leaves us all in our usual way except mother who I am sorry to say has been confined to bed for these 2 months.  I rather don’t think she will ever be able to be out of bed any more.  She is very weak.  The doctor says there is a little of bronchitis about her but he must say something.  More than likely death is the disease. (She d. 19 Aug 1887 of chronic bronchitis).

She sends her best wishes to you all and although not likely for to meet you in this world, hopes to meet – meet you in a far better place, never for to part.

I will think very long for mother.  She was very lightsome and always telling us something.  She had a wonderful memory and still has.  Yet she has been a long time on this sinful world and all we shall wish for is that she may be preparing herself for the next.

I suppose you will likely know that we are having very poor times for these 3 or 4 years past and still continues.  There is a great lot of the community that has got relief at last, I mean the crofters.  There is of late a Bill passed in Parliament called the Crofters Bill.  It fixes fair rents compensation for improvements and fixture of tenure.

I am sorry to say that I do not come under the Act being over the rent. The commissioners have not been in Orkney yet.

Your Aunt Betsy is keeping middling.  Her daughter Christina has got a son.  Your Uncle John (A21) is stopping at Bigland, yet he will very likely be looking out for a house this year.  His son Robert (A62) has got an appointment in the Post Office in Coatbridge, a small town near by Glasgow.  He is a letter carrier.  The wages are not very great but steady from 16/- to 18/- per week.

There are very poor prices in all kinds of animals and horses are more than 1/2 down.   Cattle are about 1/3 down and sheep are also about 1/3 down.  You can get the best horses now for £30 and the best cattle for £15.  I remember it double.  So you see farmers are having hard times of it.

I hope this will find you in your usual way.  Kind love to you all.  Write Robert!

Yours truly

Hugh Sinclair

Letter from James Sinclair (A611) in Newhouse, Rousay, to a 1st cousin (name unknown), son of Robert Sinclair (A606), in Swandale, Rousay, concerning Robert Sinclair’s will.

Newhouse, Rousay, Orkney
17 Dec 1887

Dear Cousin.

I received your letter of 31st Oct yesterday, asking to act for you in your Father’s Will.  Me and Mr John Craigie was executors in your father’s will.  Mr Craigie was dead before your father.  The reason I did not act was that I could not act conscientiously and carry out your father’s wishes.  I could not please all parties and therefore I could not act.  I have no objection to act for you and my cousin Mrs Marwick if she wishes me to do so but on one condition about your brother Tom.  You say that if I thought that he was left out he should have something.  You must state to me what that something is to be.

Your father’s will was made at the same time as Tom took Hurtiso; as far as I can understand he did not give him forth as much as would set up the farm.  Hugh gave him nearly as much as he did, he was only one year in it and he had not much more than half stock.

Had I been acting as executor, I think I would have found out whether Tom paid back your father or not.  Your father never kept money laying about in the home.  What Tom got had to be taken out the bank.  The year Tom took the farm if it was paid they would find it was put in the bank as he says he has done.  Whatever he got should be deducted.  Tom is the poorest one of you all and surely he should get fair play and nothing more.

It make little matter to me whether Tom gets anything.  I am only speaking my own opinion.  Let you and your Sister say what you are to do with Tom if you are to give him anything; state what it is and I will abide by your advice.  As I did not act I did not see your father’s deposit receipts but I think he has about £900.

I just have two children, Annie and Hugh.  Annie has got 8 children, 4 girls and 4 boys.  Hugh has got 3 boys.

Our good wife is not very strong, but she is up every day.  I have good health myself, but the infirmity of old age is creeping on. Mrs joins me in sending best respects to Mrs Sinclair and yourself.

I am your affectionate cousin

James Sinclair

Letter from Elizabeth Craigie (B33) in NZ, to her cousin Thomas Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19), in Australia.

River Bank
February 1st 1888

My Dear Cousin

I now have time to answer your welcome letter which came to hand in due time.  We are in our usual state of health at present, but Mary Ann is still rather delicate, and to tell the truth, I don’t think she will ever be very strong.  (Mary Ann Craigie (B34) lived until 1940, age 71.)

We have got thoroughly over the holidays now, but they were pretty quiet all through.  We had some friends from town staying with us and that made it a little livelier.

We had Uncle Isaac seeing us too.  He is stopping at Gore working for Perkins, that is cousin Betsy Yorston’s husband, but I don’t think he is getting on very well.  I am afraid he takes more whisky than is good for him..  His little boy is growing such a nice little fellow.  He still stops with his Aunt.

We were all very sorry to hear about poor Uncle Willie but it is to be hoped he is better off.  You asked me to let you know about cousin Maggie Grieve, that is Aunty Maggie’s daughter.  Well I have not had a letter from her for some time, but last word I had they were getting on very well.  Her husband is a sort of manager on a farm in Southland, and Uncle John’s son, his name is Thomas too (A63), is getting on fine.

I think he is glad he came to New Zealand for he would not had much prospect of getting on so well in the old country.  I daresay his people would have been better off had they been out here too.

Little Mary Ann Knarston is fighting her battle in life too and I daresay it is not the easiest, for her father married his third wife and there is now six of a family of them beside Annie and she is such a little thing too.  But a more loving and kind hearted girl you never met.  She has a good bit of her mother about her.

About Mrs Mitchell, old Brooks is still living with her occasionally, but she nearly did for herself a short time ago.  Well Thomas, it is not a nice thing to write about, but she had got in the family way again, and it appears she took drugs to remove it and nearly lost her own life thereby.  But she has got all right again with a hard struggle.  The doctor said it would be a long time before she would get her strength again.  Her oldest daughter is to be married soon, but she does not stop at home.  The three oldest are in service.

I was seeing Mrs Sinclair, that is cousin Julia (A56), today.  She has got another daughter.  Just fancy, this is the thirteenth.  There is seven years between the last one and this.  I was just telling her this one was surely meant to be a comfort to her in her old age if she is spared.

We are having very dry and windy weather here and everything looks parched up and crops in general are very backward.  The Yorston Family (B211) are all in their usual and are getting on nicely, but the old people are beginning to fail a good bit now.  But Aunt works as hard as ever and never seems to give in.

Well dear Thomas I don’t think I have any more to tell you about at present.  Give my kind love to dear Uncle, Aunt, Cousin Maggy and the Yorston family.  Please ask Annie if she has any photos of herself or the family and if so, I would very much like to have one.  And please tell me when your birthday and Maggie’s is, as I want to write your names in my birthday book.

And now I must stop as they are all coming in to tea, so goodbye with fond love.

I remain your loving cousin

Lizzie Craigie

To dear Thomas  xxxxxxxxxxxx

Letter from Elizabeth Craigie (B33) in NZ, to her cousin Thomas Marwick, son of Hugh Marwick (A19), in Australia.

River Bank
March 30th 1888

Dear Cousin Thomas.

Your welcome letter is to hand.  I am so sorry to hear that dear Aunt is so ill, but I trust she will soon be strong again.  We are all in our usual state of health with the exception of Mary Ann.  She does not keep strong at all.  She has been in town for three months now under the doctor’s treatment.  I do hope she will soon get strong again.

Thank you very much for all your birthday dates.  I see cousin Maggie’s is just four days after mine on the twenty second of June and her the twenty fourth.

There is very little excitement here at present.  A lot of the young men about here got up a Harvest Home about a week ago and it passed off very nicely.  The shooting season has just commenced and there is a great number of fellows from town staying in this district.  But there is not so much game now as there used to be.

We are having very bad weather here at present.  We have not had a fine day in a long time and we have a lot of stooks not in yet.  I am afraid there will be a lot of grain spoilt this season and that makes hard times for the poor farmers.

All our friends so far as I know of are well and enjoying good health.  The Yorstons are busy with the threshing and getting on fine.

Dear Thomas, I have no more news this time, everything is so quiet at present.  So with best love to all.

I remain yours, affect cousin

Lizzie Craigie

To Dear Thomas  xxxxxxx

In Print

Newsprint – 1943

1943 January 13 Orkney Herald

EVIE – EARLY SPOOT EBB. – At new moon last week there was a “good ebb,” and on three successive afternoons spoots were taken on the Evie Sands. So early in the season, few observed the favourable conditions, only two fishers appearing on the scene. These were very successful and brought home good catches which were shared by many friends. The delightful odour of the molluscs in the process of being cooked whetted the appetite, and a most enjoyable feast followed.



The purple night is hushed and calm,
Save here, where crashing breakers roar,
And sigh again with ceaseless moan,
On northern shore….

The velvet sky above, illum’ed
With myriads of silent stars:
How vast and bare its beauty is
Seen from afar!

Anon, from out the darkness black
A shrieking whitemaa wings his flight,
And hovers ghostly o’er the foam
By pale moonlight….

And o’er the heaving, restless deep
The golden lights of harbour gleam;
There life goes on with endless roar –
No time to dream….

But give to me this lonely isle
Where sweet salt odours ever flow,
To live alone with bird and flower
And fear no foe….

G. M. B.


OBITUARY. – Mr Robert Grieve Harrold, retired watchmaker, died at his home in Kirkwall on Friday, 8th January, in his eighty-first year. For nigh on sixty years Mr Harrold had carried on business in Kirkwall, and was known and respected by thousands throughout the county.

A native of Rousay, he served his apprenticeship as a watchmaker with the late Mr Donald Morgan in premises at the Big Tree, Kirkwall. On the opposite side of the street, on the site at which it is still carried on, Mr A. M. Morgan, son of Mr Harrold’s master, later established the business of A. M. Morgan & Son.

By 1883 Mr Harrold, was in business on his own account in premises in Victoria Street, now occupied by W. H. Irvine, shoemaker. Later he occupied premises at the foot of Laing Street, now Messrs R. Garden’s drapery shop, and subsequently moved to a shop on the opposite side of Albert Street, now occupied by Mr L. Celli, confectioner, where he remained until he retired some years ago.

In his early days in Kirkwall Mr Harrold was a member of St Magnus Mutual Improvement Association, which met once a week in the vestry of St Magnus Cathedral under the presidency of the late Rev James Walker. To this body Mr Harrold contributed some very interesting papers.

His principal relaxations were trout fishing and bowls, at both of which he was an adept. He was also a keen gardener and spent much of his time during his retirement in his garden at the Willows.

He was a keen Free Mason, and was in fact, one of the oldest members of Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning, No. 38.2, of which he was a past master.

He was a member of King Street Church, and was the oldest elder of that congregation.

Mr Harrold was twice married. His first wife, Miss Elisabeth Tulloch, of North Ronaldshay, died fifty-five years ago. His second wife, Miss Jane Clouston, Orphir, predeceased him by a few years.

The death of his son, Squadron-Leader John H. C. Harrold, in August 1942, in the Middle East, following an operation for appendicitis, was a severe blow to Mr Harrold, who had failed noticeably since then.

The funeral was held to St Olaf Cemetery, and the services, both at the house and at the grave were conducted by Canon E. V. Kissack, St Olaf Church, Kirkwall.

[Robert Grieve Harrold, born 15 September 1862, was the sixth of seven children of Robert Harrold, Hammermugly (Blossom), and Mary Grieve, Egilsay.]

1943 February 17 Orkney Herald

EVIE – SIGNS OF SPRING. – Though winter is still very much with us, spring is not far behind, and signs of the cold earth wakening up from its winter sleep are evident in earth and air and sky. Punctual to time, the snowdrop is here again, and is strikingly noticeable in a large carpet spread over the lawns and burn-sides of the Manse garden, where it flourishes in great beauty. This meek, wax-like blossom no weather can blight or stain, and we welcome it as the harbinger of all other vernal flowers. Wild birds have become vocal and are hopping about in lively chatter. Thrushes and blackbirds are making love to one another and are busy gathering twigs for nest building. The lark, blithe spirit, has again been heard – singing as it soars and soaring as it sings, its joyous notes gladdening the earth. Daylight is now rapidly increasing.

1943 February 27 The Scotsman

NATURE NOTES – COMMUNAL ROOSTING OF RAVENS. – …..A friend tells me of the curious tale of a pair of Orkney ravens. Over a Neolithic burial chamber at Westness, Rousay, a large cover house was built. At one end of the building is a large observation window, and the plate glass is held into the wooden frame by a thick bed of putty. A pair of ravens took a fancy to this putty and dug holes out of it, so that it had to be repaired more than once. Putty has a curious fascination for some birds, and I have known a pair of crossbills dig it out of the bedding of a skylight window.

1943 March 10 Orkney Herald


STOCK. – Work Horse (10 years old), Work Mare (5 years old), 4 Cows (three May calvers, one newly calved), 5 Young Cattle, 1 Calf, 2 Ewes, 1 Pig.

CROP. – 2 Stacks Oats, 1 Stack Hay.

IMPLEMENTS. – 2 Box Carts (one almost new), Sledge Cart, pair Cart Wheels, Single Plough, Grubber, One-Horse “Albion” Reaper, set Iron Harrows, set Wooden Harrows, Scuffler, Wheelbarrow, Turnip Cutter, Cart and Plough Harness, set Scales (Avery’s 3 cwt.), Sack Barrow, 2 Henhouses, Egg Boxes (30 dozen size), 10 doz. size Egg Grader, Shovels, Forks, Hoes, Lanterns, Dairy Utensils, “Darling” Washer, Wringer, Zinc Pails, Baths, Tubs, etc., One Horse Van, in good condition.

FURNITURE. – Sideboard, Sofas, Dining Room Chairs, Fireside Chairs, 4 sets Chests of Drawers, Tables, Bedsteads, Dressing Table, Washstands, Writing Desk, Carpet (9 x 12), Linoleum, Mats, Sheepskin Rugs, Blankets, Bed Linen, Table Linen, Cushions, Pictures, Mirrors, Companion Sets, Ornaments, Barometer, Books (including 10 volumes Children’s Encyclopaedia), Spinning Wheels, Orkney Chair, small Kitchen Girnel, No. 8 “Plantress” Stove, Crockery, Cooking Utensils, Lamps, Scales, Cutlery, and a variety of other articles.

Sale to commence at 10.30 o’clock.

Four months’ credit on approved bills for sums of £5 and upwards, or discount thereon for cash.

T. SMITH PEACE, Auctioneer.

1943 March 17 Orkney Herald



One day last week no little excitement was caused in the vicinity of Kirkwall Harbour when an uninvited guest decided to do a little social round of her own making. The “visitor” was four-footed, with a pair of horns and a tail, and as she was being escorted to her destination the “coo,” displaying admirable discernment and good taste, decided to call upon mine host, Mr Andrew S. Johnston of the St Ola Hotel.

The visit was not carried out with the decorum and gentility one would expect from a perfect lady, as her ascent to the first floor was marred by some very rough treatment of the balustrade.

When it seemed that the St Ola Hotel was due for some further and possibility more extensive damage, the Army was called in and executed a very clever pincer movement which resulted in the cow carrying out a strategic retirement.

Cow and escort, having been seen safely on their way once more, peace and quiet reigned on the Kirkwall front.

1943 April 21 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY PROPERTY. – The farm of Hullion, Rousay, extending to about 20 acres of arable land, together with hill ground and a shop, store and slaughterhouse, was sold by public roup in Kirkwall last Thursday, and was purchased by Mr C. E. S. Walls, solicitor, Kirkwall, for a client. The property was owned and occupied by Mr James Gibson, and realised £960. Upset price was £500.

1943 May 5 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – THE LATE MRS DOUGLAS CRAIGIE. – A sudden gloom was cast over the island last Monday when it became known that Mrs Douglas Craigie, Hunclett, had met her death in a most distressing accident. Alice, as she was affectionately known to all her friends, was in her twenty-first year, and had been married for only nineteen months. She was a member of the Woman’s Guild and the Frotoft Entertainment Committee, to both of which she gave willing service. Quiet and unassuming, but of a cheery disposition, she always had a happy smile and bright greeting for all who met her. Young and old will cherish her memory and deplore her loss. Deepest sympathy is felt for her husband and all relatives in this sudden bereavement.

[Alice was the daughter of John Donaldson and Margaret Stout, Watten, Egilsay. Husband Douglas was the son of Alexander Craigie, Turbitail, later Hunclett, and Rose Ida Gibson, Hullion]

1943 May 19 Orkney Herald

NEW RATION BOOKS. – The issue of the new identity cards and ration books will begin in Orkney on Monday, May 31. The public are urged to see that page 38 of the current ration book is accurate and up to date. Fill in page 3 as directed on it. On no account take it out. On page 4, disregard what is put on it. Write across the top “Milk,” and the name and address of present milk retailer. In the green book (RB2), underneath “Milk” write also “Meat and eggs,” in each case giving the names and addresses of the retailers. At the proper time call at the office specified with current identity card and ration book, or get a friend to call instead. If in order, new documents will be issued. Sign the new identity card, but write nothing on the ration book until instructed later.

The Orkney Herald at this time was full of reports of wartime stories from across the globe. Closer to home, here in Orkney the population had risen dramatically, due to the presence of Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force personnel. There was also a massive influx of civilian workmen, engaged in the building and maintenance of the Scapa Flow naval base, Grimsetter, Sparrowhawk [Hatston], and Skeabrae airfields, and barracks and other related buildings throughout Orkney. Orcadians that hadn’t been called up got on with their everyday life, and more often than not kept themselves to themselves. The newspaper columns were full of reports of fundraising for the war effort, how to adhere to the rules of the black-out, rationing of food, clothing and fuel – and endless column inches telling of criminal activity, road traffic accidents, and a multitude of other incidents – many of which had to do with excessive intake of alcohol! This year there has been hardly a word from Rousay at all… I continue to scan the pages, and extract items of interest which give an insight into everyday life in wartime Orkney. Having said that this next item harks back to the early 1600s!…..

1943 May 26 Orkney Herald

SEVENTEENTH CENTURY WITHCRAFT IN ORKNEY. – The first half of the seventeenth century was a time of witch-burning in Orkney. The evidence, as might be expected in a period when people were sunk in superstition, was often of a most ludicrous kind. Sometimes, too, accusations were made from feelings of malice and ill-will.

In the parish of Evie there lived a widow named Katherine Grieve or Miller, with a family of several children. She became suspected of witchcraft, and, in consequence, was feared and hated by her superstitious neighbours, and after a time brought to trial as a witch.

The case against her contains charges of “practising witchcraft, sorceries, divinations, and charms, and giving herself forth to have such craft and knowledge, thereby abusing the people; and that by her cursings and imprecations she wronged and hurt man and beast, which evil was brought to pass by the working of the devil, her master.” Here are some of the items in the indictment: –

At some distance from her house was a hillock called Howan Greeny, on the top of which were the ruins of an old house. The place was thought to be haunted, and people quickened their steps if they had to pass it after sunset. One day in the spring of 1627, a boy named James Frishell, who was herding swine on the hill, took shelter from the cold and rain in this old ruin. Here he found Katherine Grieve, his grandmother Mary Richart, who was also reputed to be a witch, and the devil in the guise of a black man.

Katherine, angry at being discovered, called out “fiercely to her black companion to take him (the boy), for he would tell upon them”; but the boy’s grandmother said nobody would believe the boy, and he was allowed to go. Next day he told his master, Magnus Smith, what he had seen.

Years afterwards, when Katherine and Mary were sitting in the stocks, Katherine reminded her companion of this incident, and pointed out that the boy was now a witness against them.

A few months later a woman in Evie, Ursilla or Osslie Fea, was churning milk in the firehouse of her small farm. There was a big peat fire in the hearth, which stood in the middle of the floor, and was composed of stones built to the height of about three feet on the back and both sides. She worked for hours, but no butter came, and at last, sweating and tired, she heated a large stone, put it in the churn, and got two pounds of butter, or about one-fourth of the usual quantity.

Osslie, believing now that Katherine had “taken away the profit of the milk,” sent her servant to milk the witch’s cow. When the servant came back, the two milks were mixed, and in a few minutes Osslie had nine pounds of butter from the same quantity of milk that she could not, with all her “spaighing and plouting,” get any from before.

But she was punished for daring to milk Katherine’s cow. Within twenty-four hours she was seized with a severe illness, which continued until, after about ‘six weeks’ suffering, she, at the witch’s request, drank from the churn, and was at once restored to health.

But the “profit” of the milk was again gone, and, according to the evidence of witnesses at Katherine’s trial, no amount of churning had since availed to make butter.

On one occasion Katherine, asked to cure a sick horse, advised the owner to get three different kinds of silver, put them in a sieve, and sift them over the back of the horse. It is not recorded what the effect was.

Her daughter once went and took, without permission, cabbages from the yard of one John Brown, a farmer in Evie. His servant reproved the girl, and suffered for doing so, for when the girl told her mother what had happened, Katherine bade her take the cabbages back and throw them at the servant. This was done, and the servant was so seriously injured by being struck on the chest by a cabbage, that she was ill for a fortnight. Katherine herself went to Brown’s house and told him she had dreamt that if this wife would give alms to her daughter, the servant would immediately recover. Alms were given, and the result was as Katherine had promised.

One of Katherine’s sons was a herd-boy to this same farmer, and was dismissed. This angered Katherine and, as her neighbours believed, as a result of her witchcraft one cow died immediately and all the rest shortly afterwards. Another farmer, who had had another of Katherine’s sons in his service had a similar experience.

Before sunrise one morning Katherine went to the house of John Peace, near Kirkwall. John’s wife ordered her off, and was instantly seized by an extraordinary disease, which made her unable to walk from her mother-in-law’s house to her own, though they were close together, and she had to creep on her hands and knees. Katherine was sent for, and laid a hand on the sick woman’s head and gave her a drink of milk. The woman instantly recovered the use of her limbs.

Katherine was tried before a Sheriff and jury in the “wall house” of the Cathedral in Kirkwall on the 29th of May, 1633. She was found guilty, and sentenced to be carried by the lockman to the cross and burned on the cheek.

The sentence was a lenient one, for death was the usual penalty for the crime of witchcraft. Katherine, however, only escaped that penalty by binding herself “that if at any time thereafter she should be found to haunt suspected places, or to use charms or the like, she should in that case be burnt without dome to her death, and that willingly of her own consent.”

Reprinted from Peace’s Orkney Almanac, 1913.

1943 June 9 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FARM. – It has been an exceptionally long seed time – months having elapsed between the first and last sowings of the cereals. The earliest seed sown made slow progress, hampered by wet, wind and cold. Later sowings fared better, responding to more favourable weather conditions. The latest commitments, sown in the end of May, are scarcely showing leaf yet. Potato planting extended over a long period also. Turnip sowing is now well on its way. On one or two of the most forward farms the work has been practically finished, one farm showing little seedlings. Peat cutting is about a month later than usual, hindered by the pressure of work on the land and wet weather.

1943 June 23 Orkney Herald

VITAMIN PRODUCTS. – Expectant mothers and all children holding R.B.2 Ration Cards are eligible for vitamin products – orange juice and cod liver oil. Both the Ministry of Food and the Department of Health are anxious to encourage a wider use of these products amongst eligible persons and parents are urged to obtain supplies from their nearest distribution centre. The local Food Office, District Nurse or Health Visitor will be pleased to give guidance about the scheme to any who are interested.

RED CROSS – SPHAGNUM MOSS. – The demand for sphagnum moss for surgical dressings is steadily increasing. The Red Cross appeals to all those who can gather and dry the moss to do so during the coming season. Last year, because of the inclement weather, very little moss was sent from Orkney. It is hoped that this year, with favourable weather, many sacks may be sent. The moss should be dried and cleaned if possible. The Aberdeen Depot takes uncleaned moss but prefers it to be at least, roughly cleaned. Collectors in the North Isles, to save transport from and to the Kirkwall Pier should send direct to Lady Hamilton-Fyfe, Marischal College, Aberdeen, sending at the same time a postcard to either Mrs W. A. Sinclair, Willowburn Road, Kirkwall, or Mrs J. S. Cormack, 17 Palace Road, Kirkwall, intimating the number of sacks sent.

1943 June 30 Orkney Herald

WINGS FOR VICTORY. – Orkney has done it again! Upholding the standard raised in the War Weapons Week two years ago, and kept proudly flying in the Warship Week last year, the county has this year again, in the “Wings for Victory” Week just ended, doubled its target. Up to yesterday (Monday) evening the sum of £299,221 had been recorded – a magnificent tribute to the patriotism and thrift of Orkney and Orcadians. The total includes £4138 in Free Gifts and £1000 in interest-free loans…..

ROUSAY – FROTOFT PICNIC. – The annual Frotoft picnic was held at Frotoft School on Friday, 18th June, at 3 p.m. Owing to pressure of work on the farms, and to the fact that many of the young people have been called away, the company was considerably smaller this year. There was a record turnout of children, however, and they thoroughly enjoyed their picnic. After the games and races were over, tea was served by the committee. Then Miss [Edith] McLean, Sourin School, presented prizes to the winners. She also handed over to Edith Pirie a prize book which she had won for an essay written in the Essay Competition of the S.S.P.C.A. Votes of thanks were proposed to Miss McLean, Mrs Harcus and the Picnic Committee, and were heartily responded to. Dancing then began, and continued until 2 a.m. Music was supplied by the Wasbister Band, assisted by other local musicians…..

EVIE – CUITHES. – The cuithe season is here and there have been favourable weather and tides for fishing. Several good catches have been landed and distributed in the neighbourhood. Needless to say, the fish have been most acceptable.

PEATS. – The use of peat as fuel here in the county seems to be on the decline. Many have changed over to coal entirely, while others are making a partial use of coal. This is owing to the lack of labour connected with peats and difficulties in transit. But for the force of circumstances, the home-produced fuel would still be preferred, and as many as find it possible to procure peat have been to the moors, to cut a winter’s supply. The turves are now spread over the banks, and the curing process is going on fairly well.

1943 July 21 Orkney Herald

£305,587 9s 5d


Just to hand are the final financial particulars of the Orkney Victory Wings accounts, showing the details in regard to each of the twenty-seven local target areas.

Mr Dickson, M.B.E., County General Treasurer of the scheme, has been enabled to send a total cheque for £305,587 9s 5d, as against the £140,000 aimed at. Every local target area exceeded its objective…..

[The folk of Rousay raised a total of £4,148 0s 3d, the original target being £1,000]

1943 August 25 Orkney Herald

GRACIE FIELDS IN ORKNEY. – Miss Gracie Fields, the theatrical star, paid another brief visit to the Orkney and Shetland Defences at the week-end. This was her second series of performances in the North, her first visit having taken place in June 1941.

ORKNEY RED CROSS. – Mr W. J. Heddle, Hon. Treasurer to the British Red Cross Society (Orkney Branch), begs to acknowledge, with sincere thanks, the following donation…..Proceeds of a dance held by the Home Guard, Rousay, per Mr David Gibson…..£3 12s 0d.

1943 September 1 Orkney Herald



A Ju. 88 which came in from the sea was shot down off a Northern Scottish island by A.A. gunners just before dusk last Wednesday.

It was brought down with 25 rounds in a one-minute action.

The raider came in at about 400 feet, and was instantly engaged. It quickly turned back with smoke pouring from it and crashed into the sea about six miles from the coast.

It was the first time these gunners had fired at an enemy aircraft for several months.

The Aberdeen “Press and Journal” account of the action states: –

There was a light anti-aircraft troop with Bofors guns on the island. Just before dusk on Wednesday the alarm went. The Ju., flying alone, was sighted 1000 ft. above the sea.

The troop commander, Lt. Reynolds, Exeter, a night mail train postal sorter between London and Carlisle in peace-time, hurriedly dropped a letter he had been writing to his wife and hurried out to direct fire. The cook and the batman manned the Lewis gun.

Less than a minute later the Ju. 88 had crashed into the sea six miles from the coast. It had been hit several times by Bofors shells.

The gunners stationed on the island are relieved about every three months. Their last opportunity of firing against the enemy occurred over two months ago.

In the future Home Guards may man the same type of guns in the defence of Scotland.

1943 September 8 Orkney Herald


On Friday, 3rd September, by the express wish of His Majesty, the whole nation was united in prayer. It was the King’s desire that prayer should be offered up so that “we should enter the fifth year of war with undiminished constancy of purpose,” and “to give thanks for the success already granted to our cause.”

Millions joined in the act of worship, and special day and evening services were held in every city, town and village from Orkney and Shetland to Penzance.

It can easily be imagined with what heartfelt gratitude the people of Britain gave praise to God when it is remembered that He and He alone, in His infinite mercy, watched over and guided us in our darkest hour as, in 1940, we stood alone to face the might and hatred of a nation of bestial fanatics whose only faith lies in brutality, torture and the rule of the jackboot.

Let us hope with all our hearts that on September 3rd, 1944, final victory over the most evil thing the human race has ever known will have been achieved, but at the same time, let us always have before us those stirring and beautiful lines of Rudyard Kipling: –

No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will and soul.
There is but one task for all –
For each one life to give,
Who stands if freedom fall
Who dies if Britain live?

1943 September 22 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY (ORKNEY AUXILLARY). – The hon. treasurer. Mr W. J. Heddle, solicitor, Kirkwall, begs to acknowledge the sum of £1 2s, being the amount collected for the current year in the island of Rousay on behalf of the above Society, and to thank Mrs Lily Miller, Wasbister Schoolhouse, and the following collectors, viz., Misses Nettie Marwick and Edna Clouston for their kind services.

1943 September 29 Orkney Herald


Battle of Britain Sunday (September 26) was commemorated at a special service in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, on Sunday morning at 10 o’clock.

The service was an all-Services one, and was attended by Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, C.B., Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland, and Major-General J. N. Slater, General Officer Commanding the Orkney and Shetland defences, and other high-ranking Navy, Army and Air Force officers.

Royal Air Force personnel, as was fitting, were by far in the majority, and paraded to the service accompanied by a strong contingent of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the local unit of the Air Training Corps. Fleet Air Arm and Naval officers and men represented the Silent Service, and were accompanied by a Women’s Royal Naval Service contingent. A full company of a Scottish regiment, headed by their very fine pipe band, also paraded.

The R.A.F., W.A.A.F. and A.T.C. contingent, numbering in the vicinity of 500 all told, was led by the silver band of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, which is still on tour in Orkney and which, it will be remembered, gave a very fine orchestral concert in Paterson Church, Kirkwall (along with the church choir), and another in Stromness just over a week ago.

The Servicemen and Servicewomen were accommodated on Sunday morning in three rows of three seats abreast the whole length of the Cathedral – khaki in the centre, R.A.F. blue on one side and Navy blue on the other – producing a very striking effect.

Special prayers at the service included one minute’s silence for those who had given their lives in the Battle of Britain, and hymns sung are known and loved by all – “Immortal, Invisible,” “Praise, My Soul,” “The King of Love my Shepherd is,” and “Fight the Good Fight.” The scripture lesson and the short address was in keeping with the special occasion, and the service terminated with the National Anthem. A collection was uplifted in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. The service lasted about three-quarters of an hour.

After the service, the various units formed up in front of the Cathedral, in Broad Street, and at the side in Dundas Crescent. The R.A.F., W.A.A.F., and A.T.C. contingent marched off first, again led by the A. & S.H. Band, and – in a different direction – the Navymen and Wrens were started off with the skirl of the Highlanders’ pipes, who afterwards headed their own company through part of the town.

The whole parade and service was an impressive one but, from a local point of view, it was unfortunate that the local Civil Defence Service was not invited to take part.

1943 October 20 Orkney Herald

“GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN….” – Last Thursday was a melancholy anniversary for Orkney. Four years ago, on October 14, 1939, the newly-overhauled “Royal Oak” was sunk in Scapa Flow by a submarine. It has never been made really clear how the U-boat managed to enter Scapa Flow, nor is it likely to be now until after the war.

Though an old one, the Royal Oak was a fine ship, and the eight hundred and ten men who were lost with her were of Britain’s best.

Among the casualties were one or two Orcadians, and it is to their memory, and to the memory of every other mother’s son who made the supreme sacrifice that day, that these lines are dedicated.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another.”


EVIE – HARVESTING. – Harvest work is now far advanced, and the end is in sight. A big push last week effected a quick march forward. Acres of uncut grain fell to the reaper and fields of stooks were cleared. Rows of huge stacks now appear in the corn yards and in the open. ln another week, granted good weather, the farmer should see the fruits of his labour safely stored.

1943 November 3 Orkney Herald

EVIE – SILLOCKS. – Sillocks are plentiful round our shores at present. They are in grand condition, big and fat, and every opportunity is taken to get to sea in pursuit of these fine little fish, which are so acceptable these days of fish scarcity. Some heavy catches have been brought in, and there has been a general distribution through the district.

THE HARVEST ENDS. – The crops have now been safely gathered and the harvest has proved most satisfactory. There is ample evidence of good grain and good bulk, the large number of huge, healthy coloured stacks spread over the fields, presenting a veritable cornucopia of the earth’s yield. To look round and see this rich abundance is to rejoice and give thanks.

1943 December 15 Orkney Herald

WYRE – NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY – ORKNEY AUXILLARY. – The hon. treasurer, Mr W. J. Heddle, Kirkwall, begs to acknowledge the sum of 15s., being the amount collected for the current year in the island of Viera on behalf of the above Society, and to thank Mr William Craigie, Russness, the collector, for his kind services.


Alexander Munro – General Burroughs’ Ground Officer

Alexander Munro – 1841-1916

Ground Officer to Lieutenant-General Frederick William Traill-Burroughs, Rousay 

Compiled by W. Nicol Manson and forwarded to Rousay Remembered by
Janis Munro, Stromness, Alexander’s great grand-daughter.

Alexander Munro was born in Lyth, in the Parish of Bower, Caithness on the 19th of April 1841, to Angus, (born Kildonan, Sutherland, 1809) and Janet Munro, nee McDonald, (born Reay, Sutherland, 1813). Angus and Janet had married in Bower in 1834. The 1851 Scotland Census has Angus and Janet and their family of five daughters at Blackpark in the District of Lyth and Alterwall in the parish of Bower, Angus a tenant farmer of 6 acres. Alexander Munro, aged 9 years old, a cowherd is at a neighbouring farm at Lyth, tenanted by Alexander Dunnet.

The census for 1861 shows Angus his wife and one daughter at Alterwall, Bower, and Angus’s occupation given as shoemaker. Alexander Munro, when aged 19, was a ploughman at Lynegar Farm, Watten, where Alexander Murrison was the Farm Manager. It was from here that Alexander Munro was to begin a long-lasting association with the Murrison family, George Murrison, the Lynegar Farm Manager’s brother in particular.

Alexander Murrison’s son, Robert became gamekeeper to Lieut.-General Burroughs on his estate on Rousay, showing up on the 1881 census with his wife and son at Trumland. Alexander Murrison’s brother George, was Farm Manager at nearby Blackpark Farm, Alterwall, Bower and was destined to become Factor to Lieut.-General Burroughs on his Rousay estate in the mid 1870’s, taking Alexander Munro with him. George and Alexander Murrison were the sons of Arthur Murrison and Margaret Wallace who were both born and married in Cruden, Aberdeenshire; they had a family of 12 children. In 1852, son George married Margaret Miller from Papa Westray, Orkney, with whom he had a daughter, Ann, born in 1854. In the 1861 census for Westray, Margaret Murrison aged 43 has reverted back to using her maiden surname of Miller and is a Dairymaid working at Brough, Westray. Her daughter Ann was at school, 8 years old. The 1871 Scotland census shows 18 year old Ann Murrison at Old Machar, Aberdeenshire. The 1861 census shows George Murrison, a visitor at the farm of Quoy Hill, Kirkwall and St. Ola, belonging to Forbes Henderson, a farmer born at Tyrie, Aberdeenshire. That same year George Murrison’s brother, John Murrison aged 50, is a farmer at Upper Berry Hill St. Ola, living there with his wife and two sons.

In 1861, now employed as a Farm Overseer to Sir John Sinclair of Dunbeath at Barrock Mains in Bower, George Murrison aged 40, met and married his second wife, Mary Johnston, aged 33 from Thurso, on the 6th of June at Barrock House. Mary was a domestic servant working at Barrock House, Bower.

The 1865 Valuation Roll has Angus Munro, one of 13 tenants on the Farm of Alterwall in the Parish of Bower, paying a rent of £3 5s to the Proprietor, Sir John Sinclair of Dunbeath. Alexander Steven, whose daughter Christina his son Alexander was to later marry in 1876, was a neighbouring tenant farmer at Alterwall Farm. By the 1871 census, Angus (62) and Janet Munro (53) are in the Hamlet of Alterwall, Bower with daughter Ann (27) and son Alexander (29). There are also three grandchildren in the household as well as Janet’s sister Christina (52) a farm servant. Angus is a Farmer of 6 acres paying rent of £4 10s. Son Alexander’s occupation is given as a labourer. In the parish of Bower 1881 census records and 1885 Valuation Rolls Angus (72) a Crofter of 5 acres and Janet (67) are both Gaelic speakers paying a rent of £4 10s. They are living at a farm in Alterwall with their granddaughter Christina (15) at school.

Angus passed away on the 29th of December 1886 aged 77 in Bower and Janet died on January 31st 1899 aged 90 in Watten, Caithness. They had raised five daughters and three sons and had worked most of their lives as Crofting Tenants to Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Dunbeath and Barrock, then to his grandson who succeeded him, Sir John Rose George Sinclair and his Factor, Col. Alexander Learmonth. Sir John Rose George Sinclair was married to Marion D’Oyly a niece of Lady Eliza D’Oyly Traill-Burroughs of Trumland, Rousay. Children of Angus and Janet Munro were:- Christian, b.1835, George, b.1837, Hugh, b.1839, Alexander, b. 1841, Ann, b.1844, Johan, b.1846, Jennet, b. 1849, and Elizabeth, b.1851.

From the 1874 Valuation Rolls George Murrison, Ground Officer, was living at Roadside, Lyth, paying an annual rent of £2 10/- for the house and £20 for a grass park, working for Sir John Rose George Sinclair’s Factor, Col. Alexander Learmonth, who was residing at Barrock House, Bower. Lieutenant-General Frederick Traill-Burroughs retiral from the army in 1873 coincided with the retiral of Robert Scarth as factor for the Rousay estate. He had married Eliza D’Oyly on the 4th of June 1870, Eliza staying at Westness House until he completed his army service. On the 1st of February 1852, his 21st birthday, Lieut.-Gen. Burroughs succeeded to the Rousay estates from his grand-uncle George Traill who died in 1847. Robert Scarth, an agricultural reformer, had overseen the second Quandale Clearances between 1855 and 1859 on behalf of George Traill of Westness and Woodwick. A strict disciplinarian from his army days the new laird was to continue the system of “clearance” instigated by Robert Scarth on behalf of George Traill. By 1875, George Murrison took on the roll of factor of the Rousay and Veira estate along with the farm of Skaill in Sandwick. By the time of the 1875 Valuation Roll George Murrison is living at the Mills of Rango on the farm of Skaill in the Parish of Sandwick, Orkney, paying an annual rent of £60 to the proprietors, representatives of William Watt of Breckness and Graham Watt of Kierfiold. The 1876 Valuation Roll for the Mills of Rango shows George Murrison renting for £60. Another Valuation Roll for the same year shows that he is also paying £16 rent for Veira Lodge, Frotoft, Rousay to Lieut.- Gen. Frederick William Traill-Burroughs. In 1877 George Murrison is still acting as Factor at the Farm of Skaill, renting Mills of Rango in Skaill, Sandwick, rent £60, from the proprietor Mrs Barbara Watt (Liferentrix) of Breckness and on the Rousay estate of Lieut.-Gen. Burroughs, renting the house and grounds of Veira Lodge for the sum of £16.

On 14th of July, 1876, Alexander Munro aged 35, a road contractor, married Christina Steven, aged 26, at Alterwall. Witnesses James Oliphant and John Geddes were both neighbours of Alexander and Christina who was the daughter of Alexander and Janet Steven (m.s. Calder). In the 1881 census Alexander, a general labourer, foreman, aged 39 and Christina aged 36 and daughters Malcolmina, aged 2 and Agnes, aged 9 months are living at Trumland Lodge. Living with them are Alexander’s brother George, aged 44, an unemployed forester and John Geddes, aged 32, a blacksmith and wire fencer who was a near neighbour when at Alterwall Bower and had been best man at Alexander’s wedding in Bower in 1876.

On the 9th of May 1878 the birth of Alexander and Christina Munro’s first child Malcolmina Calder Munro was recorded by Thomas Reid, the Rousay Registrar. Alexander, a road contractor, and Christina are living at the Lodge of Trumland, Rousay. So sometime between 14th July 1876 and the 9th of May 1878, Alexander and Christina Munro arrived in Rousay. On June 21st 1880 Agnes Macdonald Munro was born at Trumland Lodge, Rousay, her father Alexander a road contractor. George Murrison Munro third child to Alexander and Christina Munro was born at Old School, Sourin, Rousay on June 18th 1882. Alexander James Munro was born at Cubbierow Cottage, Rousay on May 11th 1884. Father Alexander was still employed as a road contractor, and from the 1884 Valuation Roll he is paying £2 rent to Lieut-Gen. Burroughs for the farm of Cubbierow.

Alexander Munro with children Hugh, Malcomina, and Agnes

The 1884 Valuation Roll for Veira Lodge Frotoft shows that George Murrison, Esquire, Factor, is paying £16 rent for the house and grounds.

From the1885 Valuation Rolls, Alexander Munro is paying £6 6s 6d rent to Lieut-Gen. Burroughs for the Old Schoolhouse and Grounds.

Hugh Munro, fifth child of Alexander and Christina was born on the 25th of July 1886. David William Munro was born to Alexander and Christina Munro on the 17th of October 1887 at Old School, Rousay, Alexander now recorded as a merchant.

Lieut.-General Frederick Traill-Burroughs had advertised through Messrs. J. Watson Lyall & Co., Land Agents, No. 15 Pall Mall, London, S.W., the “Beautiful & Valuable Estate of Rousay and Veira in Orkney, extending to 12,000 acres with handsome mansion house, excellent shooting lodge, fishing’s, etc, etc, which will be offered for sale by public auction, at the Mart, Tokenhouse Yard, Bank of England, on Thursday, the 7th of June1889, (unless previously sold by private bargain)”. He did not find any buyers and remained on Rousay, becoming a County Councillor in 1889 and appointed Vice-Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland in 1900. He received a Knighthood in 1904.

On June the 13th 1890 after 15 years as factor on the estates of Rousay and Veira, George Murrison had left Orkney to return to Kintore in Aberdeenshire. On his departure he was presented with a drawing room clock with the inscription:- “Presented by Lieutenant-General F. Traill Burroughs, C.B., of Rousay and Veira, Orkney, to Mr George Murrison J.P., as remembrance of his able, active, zealous, and faithful services as factor of his estate from 1875 to 1890, and as a token of his sincere regret at parting with him on account of the action of the Crofter Commission having stopped all estate improvements, and having rendered useless the further services of a resident factor”. He died on the 27th of April 1900 at Braeside of Rothmaise, Warthill, Parish of Rayne, Aberdeenshire aged 83 years old. His wife Mary died on the 26th of October, 1906 at Rayne, aged 79 years.

On the 11th of March, 1890 Mary Ann McKay Munro was born at Old School, Sourin, her father Alexander a merchant. Alexander and Christina Munro complete their family with the birth of their eighth child, Albert Edward Munro on the 5th of February, 1893.

The 1891 census shows the family at Old School, Alexander a Merchant. When Trumland Farm was advertised for lease in 1898 Alexander Munro’s name was given to contact as “Overseer, living at Old Schoolhouse, Sourin”.

In the advertising for the leasing of Westness Farm in 1899 Alexander Munro was delegated to be the one to show the prospective tenants around. He is described in 1899 as “Overseer”. The 1901 England Census shows the Burroughs’ at their London home so he would have needed somebody to see to his estate in his absence.

The 1901 census shows the Munro family are at Old School, Alexander a farmer. From the 1901 census, son Alexander James Munro is at Westdale, a 16 years old apprentice joiner at the home of William Reid and his family.

Alexander Munro with wife Christina and son George

Below are the written instructions given to Alexander Munro, Ground Officer for the estate of Rousay and Veira, hand written, unlikely by him, in a notebook, dated 24th November 1902, in which he took details of the various jobs which needed to be done on the properties he had visited. Although not signed, it was most likely that the instructions would have been written in the hand of Lieutenant-General Frederick William Traill Burroughs, Proprietor of the estate.


Alexander Munro, Woo, Sourin, The Ground Officer, Rousay

Commenced; 24 November 1902
Instructions and Memoranda For Ground Officer

To visit every Farm and Holding on the Estate at least once a quarter and see that the Estate Regulations are adhered to
and report any contraventions thereof without delay.
To see that Buildings, Dykes and Wire Fences are kept in good repair;
also Farm Roads and Gates.
To see that Woodwork is periodically painted for its due preservation;
also Ironwork.
To see that Ditches and Drains are regularly scoured and kept clean.
To see that weeds are regularly cut down.
To see that Roads are kept in good order and that loose stones are removed.
To see that Quarries are not ill-used, and only used by those having the Proprietor’s permission.
To Superintend all Building and Draining, or other Improvements and see that they are properly done.
To report any Poaching by land or water. To protect Grouse, Trout, and all Game.
To stop and report any unauthorised Heather burning.
To see that Hedges are trimmed annually.
To see that Farms are properly stocked, and cultivated, and not mis-cropped.
Wire fencing along Public Roads to be according to the law.
To prosecute persons tethering Stock across the Public Roads.
A multiplicity of dogs to be checked. The Owners of Dogs poaching or trespassing to be proceeded against.
Persons damaging Dykes, Fences, Bridges to be prosecuted.
Not to permit arrears of Road Rates.
To preserve the Peace of the Estate.
Names and addresses to be painted on all Carts as required by law.
The Rules of the Road to be observed by vehicles on the roads.
Disorderly conduct to be reported.



Last dated entry in Alexander Munro’s notebook of visits is January 2nd, 1906. He would have been 65 years old.

In a 1902 “The Scotsman” newspaper carried a report of a fire in the stack yard of a property in Sourin, the tenant of the farm was made known as the “assistant factor of General Burroughs. Police were called when five stacks of bere and oats and one stack of hay were burned. Since the passing of the Crofters Act, relations between the proprietor and the crofters have become strained and it is supposed that the fire may have been the work of incendiaries”.

In 1904, when the lease of Westness Farm was again advertised, Alexander Munro, was the “Ground Officer” to be contacted for viewing the subjects of the lease.

Sir Frederick William Traill-Burroughs KCB, died in London on April 9th, 1905 and his wife on the 1st of February 1908. A memorial was erected in St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall by Lady Edith Marion D’Oyly Dunbar or Sinclair, wife of Sir John Rose George Sinclair, 7th Baronet of Dunbeath, Barrock House, Bower, who was executrix of Lady Burroughs’s will and niece of Lady Eliza D’Oyly Traill-Burroughs. Sir John Rose George Sinclair and his predecessors were the proprietors of the estate at Alterwall, Bower, Caithness, where Angus Munro and his family lived and where Alexander Munro was born in 1841. One of his crofts was let to Angus Munro who worked all his life as a tenant crofter to the Sinclair’s.

Alexander Munro became tenant of Woo, Sourin in 1900, getting a loan of £200 from General Burroughs. From the 1905 Valuation Roll recording the farm and house of Woo, Sourin, Alexander Munro was paying a rent of £25. He was Sub-postmaster, Inspector of Roads and Collector of Rates. He lost two of these appointments when he became bankrupt but retained the post of Sub-postmaster and returned to Old School, Sourin. The Trustees of the Rousay Estate were persuaded by Lady Burroughs to leave Alexander Munro in Old School after they had applied to have him removed from there in 1905. The 1911 census has Alexander Munro, aged 69, a Small Farmer and Sub Post Master. Christina Munro, aged 60, (they had been married for 34 years 8months & 8 days), Agnes McDonald Munro, aged 30, was a cook, home on a visit, Hugh Munro, aged 24 and Albert Edward Munro, aged 18, were horsemen and Mary Ann Munro, aged 21, a general domestic servant. Alexander James Munro a stonemason and building contractor, was at Hallbreck in Sandwick aged 26, a boarder at the home of James Flett Hourston and family. Malcolmina Calder Munro, aged 32, was a domestic servant at the United Free Church Manse, Rousay, where the preacher in residence was Andrew L. P. Jamieson.

On the 2nd of October, 1912 at Sourin Public School, Rousay there was a Munro family double wedding. Alexander James Munro, 28, stonemason, Old School, Rousay, was married to Agnes Lyon, 21, Ervadale, Sourin, Rousay. Agnes M. Munro and James Robert Lyon were the witnesses. Alexander and Agnes were married by the Rev. Alexander Spark of the Church of Scotland. James Bowie, grocer, 36, (widower), 173 Albert Street, Glasgow, was married to Malcolmina Calder Munro, 34, postmistress, Post Office House, Sourin, Rousay. David Munro and Jessie Harcus Reid were witnesses. James and Malcolmina were married by the Rev. Alexander Irvine Pirie of the United Free Church of Scotland.

Alexander James Munro and wife Agnes Lyon

Aggie and James Russell with their children, Roy, Chrissie, and Hugh, at Brendale in 1924.
In front is Georgina Munro, Breval, Alexander James and Agnes’s first-born.

On the 4th of September, 1914, James Roy Sinclair Russell, 26, Farmer, Brendale, Sourin, Rousay, was married at School, Rousay to Agnes McDonald Munro, 34, Postmistress, Old School, Sourin, Rousay. Hugh Munro and Mary Gillespie were witnesses. James and Agnes were married by the Rev. Alexander Irvine Pirie of the United Free Church of Scotland.

Agnes McDonald Russell died at Brendale, Rousay, on April 26th 1934, aged 53. James Roy Sinclair Russell re-married in 1946 to Agnes’s sister, Mary Ann McKay Munro. Mary Ann McKay Russell died at Myres, Sourin, Rousay on December 29th, 1962. Alexander Munro (late Ground Officer) died at Old School, Sourin, on September 10th 1916, aged 75, his son, Alexander James Munro was Informant.

Hugh Munro died at Old School, Sourin, Rousay on March 2nd 1920, aged 33. He was unmarried. Albert Edward Munro died in Rousay on the 24th December, 1975, aged 82. He was unmarried.

From “The Orcadian”, 5.6.1919; “Christina Munro, Old School, Rousay, applied as a statutory small tenant for the fixing of a first equitable rent. Duncan J. Robertson, solicitor representing the Traill-Burroughs family trustees stated that in 1912 the arrears amounted to £3 5s and these now amounted to £28 12s. Alexander James Munro, son of the applicant, spoke on behalf of his mother. John Cormack was the solicitor representing Mrs Munro and informed the hearing that she was prepared to pay any arrears ordered by the court”. Duncan Robertson insisted on the return of Old School to the trustees but was not successful.

Christina Munro died aged 81 on August 7th 1931 at Old School, Sourin. Informant was her son, Albert Edward Munro.

Alexander and Christina Munro had three sons serving during WW1. Private David William Munro was killed in action with D Coy., 15th Battalion Highland Light Infantry on the 17th of March 1916. Gunner Alexander James Munro served with the Royal Horse Artillery and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. Private Albert Edward Munro was in the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders when severely wounded and was discharged because of his wounds.

Alexander James Munro’s medals – obverse and reverse views.

Left: Military Medal. It was an award for gallantry and devotion to duty when under fire in battle on land on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field.

Middle: British War Medal. This silver medal was awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war (an area of active fighting) or served overseas (perhaps as a garrison soldier) between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 inclusive.

Right: Allied Victory Medal. The Allies each issued their own bronze victory medal but with a similar design, equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The colours represent the combined colours of the Allied nations, with the rainbow additionally representing the calm after the storm. The ribbon consists of a double rainbow with red at the centre. To qualify, an individual had to have entered a theatre of war (an area of active fighting), not just served overseas. Their service number, rank, name and unit were impressed on the rim.

About 1906, John Logie, a former Butler for the Burroughs family became the Estate Trustees Land Steward and Caretaker, a post he held until the estate was sold to Walter Grant in 1922.

Alexander James Munro died at Braes, Rousay, on 8th October 1960, aged 76. Agnes Munro died in the Balfour Hospital on the 23rd of March, 1949, aged 57. Malcolmina Calder Bowie died on April 13th, 1949, at 5 Wilton Street, Glasgow, aged 70. On 13th October 1914, George Murrison Munro, Police Constable, 738 Argyle Street, Glasgow, was married at 5 Wilton Street, Glasgow to Mary Fraser, The Hydropathic, Kilmacolm. John Fraser and Euphemia Fraser were witnesses. George and Mary were married by Robert Henderson Abel of the United Free Church. George Murrison Munro died at 68 Lumsden Street, Glasgow, on March 10th 1944, aged 61.


Alexander James and Agnes had thirteen children. Two died in infancy, and Byng, born in 1919, died in Carlisle in 1947. The others are pictured above, and family member Bertie Gillespie, Longhope, says: ‘This photo was taken in the Sourin hall at my sister Maureen’s wedding to Tommy Watt on April 20th 1973.’

Back row, left to right: Kathleen Christina Gillespie née Munro, Georgina Jessie Calder Gray née Munro, Agnes Dorothy Munro, Maggie Ann Lyon Gibson née Munro, Daisy Williamina Emsley née Munro. Front row, left to right: Hugh Munro, Robert ‘Robbo’ Watson Lyon Munro, Lionel Alexander Edward Munro, Norman Herbert Munro, Andrew ‘Andy’ Hunter Munro.

In Print

Newsprint – 1942

1942 January 21 Orkney Herald

LOCAL COMMITTEE CHANGES – ROUSAY AND WYRE. – District Council Representative – Mr John Johnston, Testaquoy, Wyre, in succession to Mr Magnus Flaws, merchant, Hellzigarth, Wyre, who is moving from Wyre to Rousay to become manager of the Rousay, Egilshay and Veira Co-operative Society, Ltd., following the appointment of Mr Walls, the previous manager, as packing station manager of Orkney Egg Producers, Ltd., Kirkwall.

BRING YOUR OWN SUGAR. – Now that the increased sugar ration has been discontinued it is only reasonable that when visiting we should carry our own sugar. In smaller households it may be a real hardship to provide sugar for guests. There is little fear of your action being misunderstood when you produce your own sugar – in most cases it is likely to be appreciated. Get the habit now if you have not already adopted it.

1942 February 18 Orkney Herald

HOUSEHOLD RESERVES. – Many households, especially in rural areas, will have had reason to be thankful that they could draw upon small household reserves. Potatoes, oatmeal, and flour, which are still in good supply, provide a most suitable type of reserve, and reasonable supplies of these foodstuffs should be added to make up the inroads which may have been made on them during recent stormy weather. And remember, at least two days’ supply of bread should always be maintained.

1942 February 18 Orkney Herald


The R.N. Cinema, Kirkwall, was filled to capacity with men and women of the forces and a sprinkling of employees from various civilian contractors last Saturday night to welcome those famous artistes, Bud (Oi) Flanagan and Chesney Allen, who had a magnificent supporting company.

Flanagan and Allen were accorded a right royal reception when they made their appearance, and Bud’s overcoat of Orcadian Squirrel, together with his fretwork headgear were a riot in themselves.

One of the highlights of their show was Ches Allen as the racehorse owner giving riding orders to his jockey (Bud Flanagan) on Epsom Downs.

It would be impossible to imagine anything funnier, and it was these two great comedians at their brilliant best. Everything else that they did stamped them as the leaders in their line of business, and at the close they got a wonderful ovation.

The locally based R.A.F. Quintette richly deserved the big hand which was given them; each of its members is undoubtedly a very talented musician.

Cyril Smith compered the show and soon had the house sitting up and asking for more with his inexhaustible fund of clever stories put over in a manner only possible with a raconteur par excellence. His monologue “The Cockney and the Hun” was truly grand stuff.

Mr Stanley Kilburn charmed the audience with his arrangements on the piano, and he certainly is maestro.

An extremely pleasant surprise was provided by the introduction of Sergt. Alex. MacIntosh, vocalist, a Stromness competition winner. His rendering of “I’ll walk beside you,” amongst other excellent numbers, had a very warm reception and a successful future is indicated for this very fine singer.

At the fall of the curtain the whole company received another grand ovation. Seen by an “Orkney Herald” representative, Flanagan and Allen sent a message of good wishes to all Forces readers of the “Herald” (including the ladies) and want them to know how glad they are to be with them in Orkney. They would have been here before this but for previous heavy bookings.

They wish everybody all they wish themselves and the Best of Luck – Oi !!

[A hero of the home front was the singing comic Bud Flanagan. In jarring times his sleepy croon would soothe a nerve-racked city. Born Reuben Weintrop and raised in a Polish Jewish household off Brick Lane, he was a call boy in the music halls and worked up his own act with partner Chesney Allen. When hostilities commenced, the man who had beguiled audiences with ‘Underneath the Arches’ could now calm wartime jitters with ‘We’re Going to Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line’. Almost the last thing he did, before his death in 1968, was to record the theme song to Dad’s Army, ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?’ – a nicely nostalgic confection that offered him the perfect exit. – From ‘In the City: A Celebration of London Music’ by Paul Du Noyer.]

1942 February 25 Orkney Herald

NURSING SERVICES – MESSAGE FROM H.M. THE QUEEN. – Her Majesty The Queen has sent a message to members of all branches of the nursing profession, which is being exhibited in all hospitals in Orkney. The message is in the following terms: –

“My thoughts go out to the women who, in this third year of war, are serving the cause of humanity in every branch of the nursing profession.

“May you be granted strength and courage to carry on your selfless labours and may find your reward in the gratitude of those to whom you minister.”

1942 March 11 Orkney Herald

CALL-UP AGES REVISED. – Men of forty-five, girls of twenty, and boys of eighteen are now liable to be called up. A proclamation signed by the King in Privy Council last week giving effect to this decision states, too, that more doctors and dentists are to be recruited.

1942 March 18 Orkney Herald

BASIC PETROL RATION GOES AFTER JUNE 30. – After June 30 no basic petrol ration will be issued, and the Government wants all pleasure cars and motor-cycles taken off the roads.

Petrol will then be allowed only for essential purposes. The ration for May and June will be cut by half.

These decisions, the most drastic yet introduced, were announced in the House of Commons by Mr Geoffrey Lloyd, Secretary for Petroleum, and Mr Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary.

Basic ration for motor-cycles will not be abolished until the October period, as many war workers use motor-cycles to and from their work. There will be a 10 per cent. reduction in the supplementary allowance for the April May period…..

NEW COAL ORDER – TWO CWTS. PER WEEK. – From to-day (Tuesday) anyone in Scotland who has half a ton of coal in stock will not be allowed to buy any more for three weeks. People who have less than half a ton in stock will not be permitted to buy more than 6 cwts. for the following three weeks – an average of 2 cwts. per week…..

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – The monthly meeting of Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in the Wasbister School on Friday, February 27. There was quite a good turnout of members, presided over by Miss Inkster, who gave as her motto, “Face powder fascinates a man, but it takes baking powder to hold him” – most appropriate for the demonstration which was to follow. After the minutes had been read and correspondence dealt with, Miss Inkster called on Mrs William Flaws, Hammerfield, to give a demonstration. This took the form of a currant bun, the mixing and method of which were very keenly followed. A vote of thanks was proposed to Mrs Flaws by Miss Inkster for her very able demonstration, and for the neat and efficient manner in which it was carried out. The competition for the evening was “Something Made from a Sack.” This produced one or two capital entries, such as mats, gardening aprons, etc. The judges, Mrs R. Mainland, Mrs Moar and Mrs Hourie, who had rather a difficult task, finally awarded the prizes as follows: 1 Mrs S. Gibson, Lopness; 2 Mrs McLean, Sourin Schoolhouse; 3 Mrs John Marwick, Breck. After a most acceptable cup of tea, provided by the Wasbister ladies, Miss Anna Yorston favoured the gathering with selections on the mouth organ, and Miss Evelyn Clouston with a song; both items being very much appreciated. Mrs Kirkness thereafter proposed votes of thanks to hostesses, judges and entertainers. The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem. The next meeting will be held in the Sourin School on Friday, March 27. Competition – One pair ladies’ woollen gloves knitted on two wires. Members are reminded of next egg collection on April 6.

1942 March 25 Orkney Herald


From far-off Tahiti, in the Hawaiian Islands, comes a communication to the “Orkney Herald” from one of Kirkwall’s sons, Mr John Moodie. Posted on January 29, the letter had travelled by Trans-Pacific Air Mail from the U.S. naval base, made famous by the Japs’ treacherous attack on Pearl Harbour, to the States, and thence to this country Mr Moodie encloses the following poem…..


I know that I shall never see
Those far-off isles so dear to me
Though in my dreams I often roam
O’er link and braes I still call home:

To Wideford Hill I often go
And view the scene spread out below,
There’s Scapa Flow’s blue waters deep
Where Nazi ships forever sleep;

Sanday, like a monster sprawling;
Stronsay from its claws is crawling,
There Rousay lies curled up asleep,
While Eday’s peats her smoke screens keep;

Old Man o’ Hoy keeps sharp lookout,
To see no “subs” lurk there about.
The longing wish that “winna doon”
Is just once more to see that “toon”:

What would I give to walk once more,
From Clay Loan down just to the shore,
And nod, and smile, and say “Hello,”
To them of fifty years ago.

1942 May 20 Orkney Herald

LIFEBOATS IN WAR-TIME. – The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has just brought out a third edition of its interesting publication, “The Lifeboat Service and the War.” It gives a vivid idea in both letterpress and pictures of the day by day work of the lifeboat service under war conditions – the many new dangers that have to be faced and the unexpected duties that have to be carried out. In the first thirty months of the war, which are here reviewed, the lifeboats round the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland have rescued 4,630 lives – nearly two for every one rescued in the last war and five for every one rescued in the 20 years of peace between the two wars. “War,” it is stated, “has increased their work fivefold. It has increased their hazards much more than fivefold. It has brought them strange new duties. It has added many unfamiliar dangers to the ever-present and familiar dangers of the sea.” The booklet provides a stirring record of bravery and endurance. The many illustrations include portraits of some of the men who have played such a heroic part during these thirty months of war.

1942 May 27 Orkney Herald


£94,000 – that was Orkney’s Warship Week total at the time of going to press, as signalled by the sailor on the mast at Kirkwall Market Green at 1 p.m. to-day (Tuesday).

The county aims at raising £120,000 by Saturday to pay for the corvette H.M.S. Ness. There is confidence that the target figure will be reached, but not over-confidence – every penny is wanted.

There is no slacking of effort as the target figure is approached, and during the week a full programme is being enthusiastically entered into in Kirkwall and throughout the county.

The week was given an auspicious send off on Saturday afternoon with an inaugural address by Vice-Admiral L. V. Wells, C.B., D.S.O., Flag Officer Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands. The address was followed by a march past of the Services, which provided one of the most impressive spectacles of its kind yet seen in Orkney…..

Vice-Admiral Wells took the salute at the march past as bluejackets, marines, W.R.N.S., soldiers, A.T.S., mechanised units, airmen. W.A.A.F.’s, A.T.C., and Home Guard swung past the saluting base, to the music of the pipes and drums of a Highland regiment.

A large crowd of spectators had gathered at Broad Street to hear the opening ceremony, brought to them by loudspeaker, and to witness the march past.

The large Home Guard contingent included Kirkwall, East and West Mainland platoons…..

On Sunday afternoon two Naval vessels were open to visitors at the harbour, and large numbers of people were conducted over the ships.

Principal Warship Week attraction in Kirkwall on Monday was the war weapons display at the Market Green. Navy, Fleet Air Arm, Army and Home Guard combined in providing a most interesting and comprehensive display of modern armaments.

Personnel of the Services were in attendance to demonstrate and describe the exhibits, which included a Naval torpedo, mines, field and anti-aircraft artillery, mortars, bren gun carriers, predictor, sound locator, searchlight, rangefinder, and a wide array of small arms and automatics. The public were given an insight into the Home Guard’s growing range of weapons, including a new piece of “heavy” artillery.

Crews of light A.A. gun and predictor were seen in action as an aircraft swooped over the Market Green in mock attacks.

The weapons display will be repeated on Thursday, and should be missed by no-one.

1942 June 3 Orkney Herald


£241,000 was invested in Orkney during the county’s Warship Week which came to an end on Saturday. It means that the target figure – £120,000 for the corvette H.M.S. Ness – has been more than doubled.

The figure of £218,000, announced at Kirkwall Market Green on Saturday evening, was augmented by returns from outlying areas since received.

First total signalled on the Naval indicator at Kirkwall Market Green was £60,000 at 1 p.m. on the opening day, Saturday, 23rd May, and from then on investments mounted steadily. The target figure was passed on Wednesday when, at 8 p.m. a total of £124,000 was signalled. The effort did not flag, however, as is evident from the county’s splendid final figure.

Though the Royal Navy was most closely associated with Orkney’s drive, all three services co-operated whole-heartedly with the civilian promoters.

Orkney’s near quarter-million total of Warship Week, brings the county’s total investments in round figures since the Savings Campaign commenced in November 1939, to well over £1,600,000, or more than £70 per head of the population of 22,000. The total is made up as follows: – War Savings £900,000, deposits in Post Office Savings Bank £500,000, Warship Week £241,000…..

1942 June 10 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NURSING. – Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre Nursing Association announces that while Nurse Moffat is on holiday, from 10th June to 6th July, her duties will be taken over as follows: – 10th June to 16th June, by Mrs Hugh Craigie, jr., Scockness, Sourin (formerly a Queen’s Nurse); 16th June to 1st July, by Nurse Keith, Witchwood, relief Nurse for Orkney, and from 1st July to 6th July, by Mrs Hugh Craigie, Scockness.

1942 June 17 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – A meeting of Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in Wasbister School on Thursday, May 28. After the minutes, read by Mrs Marwick in the absence of Mrs Paterson, were approved, Miss Inkster introduced Mrs Gardner, M.O.I. lecturer, who chose as her subject “Women’s War-time Activities.” She gave a detailed account of the life of, and the work done by, the Women’s Services – W.R.N.S., A.T.S., W.A.A.F.S., W.L.A., W.F.C., and N.A.A.F.I., and the Nursing Services, and to all she paid a warm tribute. She pointed out that it was the duty of all who could to offer hospitality to the service girls, many of whom were far from home and must necessarily be lonely at times. The various work done by voluntary workers was also discussed, and Mrs Gardner emphasised that all women could be of national service by using as much home-grown food as possible and by making the most of their rations. At this point she told how to bottle fruit and rhubarb for winter use, and dictated the method for the benefit of those taking notes. Throughout the lecture, Mrs Gardner told many stories to illustrate certain points, but most touching of all were the stories of two old ladies, one in a London shelter who made tea and sausages every night during air raids for needy and homeless people, and the other who came back to her bombed out home in Clydebank, after the first blitz, found her stove, gathered together kindling, of which she said there was plenty, and all day made and supplied tea to voluntary workers. In closing, she spoke of the morale of the nation, which was very high, and the future. “Much sorrow,” she said, “lies before the women of Britain. Victory cannot be won without great sacrifice, but British women will face the ordeal bravely and they will realise that ‘Death is swallowed up in Victory.’ ” It was altogether a very comprehensive and interesting lecture, and it is to be hoped that “those in power” will persuade the Ministry of Information to release Mrs Gardner for another lecture tour in Orkney. On the call of Miss Inkster the lecturer received a very hearty vote of thanks, and she thereafter judged the entries in the competition, “Something new from something old.” First (equal) were Mrs Gibson, Lopness, and Mrs Hourie, Quoygreenie, for a child’s knitted dress, knickers and socks from up-runnings of two old jumpers, and a very attractive dress from an old coat, respectively; 2 Mrs Craigie, Furse, for a pair of gloves knitted from up-runnings of old cashmere stockings. The hostesses for the evening were Mrs Flaws and Mrs Moar.

1942 June 24 Orkney Herald

FIRST RAID VICTIM AVENGED. – The death of James Isbister, Bridge of Waithe, Britain’s first civilian air-raid casualty of the war, has been avenged. Colonel Fritz Doench, the German air ace who led the first bomber attack on this country in 1939, and who also led an attack on the Orkneys and Scapa Flow in March, 1940, in which Isbister was killed, is dead. His death was announced by the Nazis on Thursday. No details of how he was killed are given, but it is thought in London that he met his death in a flying accident while directing operations off the North Cape against our convoys going to Russia. During the Spanish War, Doench was one of the pilots in the infamous Condor Legion. Isbister was killed while standing in his doorway watching tracer bullets and bursting A.A. shells. The H.E. bomb was one of nineteen dropped by a fleeing enemy bomber.

1942 August 5 Orkney Herald

GRANNY MAINLAND IS 102. – “Granny” Mainland, of 17 Victoria Street, Kirkwall, celebrated her 102nd birthday on Monday. “Granny,” as she is known to practically everybody in the town, had many callers bearing congratulations and good wishes throughout the day. Among them were Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland; Provost P. C. Flett, Kirkwall; Mr W. J. Heddle, Town Clerk, Kirkwall, and Mrs Heddle; Bailie Slater, Mr D. M. Wood, County Clerk; Dr MacLeod, and relations, neighbours and friends. “Granny” Mainland is a native of Rousay. She was born on the farm of Banks there. In her early life she spent some years in domestic service in Edinburgh, but has been living in Kirkwall for as long as most of the present inhabitants can remember. She is in good health and retains her faculties to a remarkable degree. All readers will join with us in endorsing the hearty congratulations which “Granny” Mainland has already received.

FAMOUS ARTISTES FOR ORKNEY. – Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, the London Palladium stars, famous from the “Hi, Gang” radio series, have announced their intention of visiting the Orkney Islands to entertain troops stationed here. These renowned American artistes have still a considerable time to put in with their present show, however. Other famous artistes who have promised to visit the Orkney forces include Sir Harry Lauder and George Formby. The latter has already visited Orkney once. Other stars who have already visited Orkney under the ENSA schedule or on their own initiative include Frances Day, Phyllis Monkman, Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen, Evelyn Laye and Arthur Riscoe.

1942 August 12 Orkney Herald

POSSESSION OF TELESCOPE AN OFFENCE. – Two young men, a Kirkwallian and a visitor, were fined 5/- each [by Sheriff-Substitute George Brown at Orkney Sheriff Court this (Tuesday) forenoon], having pled guilty to having a telescope in their possession on the Holm Road. A police car proceeding along the road saw the accused using the telescope to view ships in Scapa Flow. Accused explained that, though they were aware that it was an offence to carry a camera, they did not know that the restriction applied also to telescope or binoculars. The case was brought under the Regulated Areas Order (No. 6), which came into force about 6 months ago.

1942 August 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – FROTOFT PICNIC. – The annual Frotoft picnic was held on Friday, 7th August. The weather made outdoor sports impossible, but children, parents and friends assembled in the School and spent a pleasant afternoon and evening. Indoor races and competitions were eagerly contested. Tea was served at 6 o’clock. Afterwards Mrs [Grace] Goar, Wasbister School, presented the prizes to the winners. On the call of Mr William Craigie, Corse, she was accorded a hearty vote of thanks. Mr Harcus and committee were thanked by Mr Mainland, Nearhouse, for organising the picnic. Dancing followed and continued until 2 a.m., when the company joined in singing “Auld Lang Syne” before dispersing. The committee wish to thank all who sent gifts of home-bakes, and all those who supplied music for the dance.

1942 September 9 Orkney Herald

PASSING OF “GRANNY” MAINLAND. – “Granny” Mainland, well-beloved centenarian of Kirkwall, passed peacefully away at her home in Victoria Street shortly before midnight last Tuesday. Less than a month before, on her 102nd birthday, she had been visited by a number of civic notabilities, including the Lord Lieutenant of the County, Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, who called with hearty good wishes. On her 100th birthday she was the recipient of Royal congratulations, of which she was particularly proud.

Born on August 3, 1840, in the island of Rousay, Granny Mainland worked in the South as a young woman, but returned to Orkney and settled down in Kirkwall, where she spent most of her life.

Deeply interested in both local and international affairs, she remained alert and keen-witted until within a week or so of her death. Until her 102nd birthday she was able to be out of doors. Latterly, however, she became weaker and was confined to her bedroom, and on Tuesday evening, September 1, after a long life well spent, she crossed the Great Divide.

All who knew Granny Mainland, and all who knew of her, will regret the passing of this staunch old pillar of the Orkney that was.

1942 September 16 Orkney Herald

EVIE – HARVEST. – We are now surrounded with acres of ripe grain, and harvesting is in full swing. Stooks are appearing in the fields in place of level seas of corn. The labour list is meagre, but machinery compensates, and we see large patches of corn diminishing as the self-binder with the tractor trails round them. There is prospect of a plenteous harvest to crown the farmer’s efforts, and the treasures of the field should amply reward him for his industry and patience.

1942 September 30 Orkney Herald

EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLIES IN THE HOME. – Now that we are on the verge of winter it seems appropriate to give a reminder of the need for looking at household reserves and having them replenished or replaced with fresh supplies where necessary. The Ministry have made it clear what may be regarded as a reasonable reserve. Oatmeal, flour and potatoes are in good supply and are admirable as a reserve because they can be kept without deterioration for a reasonable period and can always be used and replaced. And remember always to have at least two days’ supply of bread in the home.  

DISTRIBUTION OF ORANGES. – There still appears to be a lot of misunderstanding about the Ministry’s orange policy. Oranges are not rationed and are not issued to holders of green (R.B.2) ration books in place of the discontinued tea ration. When supplies are available however – though for obvious reasons that may be only at irregular intervals – they must be reserved exclusively for the first five days for the benefit of children who possess the green ration book. Because deliveries are irregular, retailers should display the oranges so that parents may be able to take advantage of the opportunity. It is desirable that any supplies which may be left after the five days should be made available to young persons.

1942 October 14 Orkney Herald

MR CHURCHILL WITH THE FLEET. – The Prime Minister, speaking in Edinburgh on Monday, revealed that he had just returned from a visit to the Fleet, “somewhere in Scotland.” He had visited ships of all sizes and types and met men of all ranks, men recently returned from action in the Mediterranean and from perilous Russian convoys.

1942 November 18 Orkney Herald

CATHEDRAL BELLS. – The bells of St Magnus Cathedral swelled with their chimes the nation-wide carillon on Sunday morning to celebrate the victory of the Eighth Army in Egypt, and, in the words of a Downing Street statement, “as a call to thanksgiving and to renewed prayer.” Breaking their two years’ silence, the Cathedral bells sounded from 10.30 to 10.45 and from 11.10 to 11.15. The bell-ringer was Mr John Wick, Victoria Street, Kirkwall.

1942 December 2 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – COLLECTION BY SCHOOL CHILDREN. – Mrs Harcus, Frotoft School, has received acknowledgment from the Earl Haig Fund of £7 5s 8d. This sum was realised from the sale of poppies by school children in Rousay. From the Governors of the Donaldson Trust in Edinburgh a letter of thanks has come, for the sum of £8 5s 4d, which was collected by school children. Teachers and pupils are thanked for their kind co-operation.

ORKNEY’S SPITFIRE IN ACTION. – News of some of the operational flights upon which the Spitfire “Orkney” has been engaged has been received by Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, C.B., Lord-Lieutenant of Orkney and Zetland. He has learned that the Spitfire which the county of Orkney gifted to the Government, and was named “Orkney,” has been serving with the operational squadrons of the Royal Air Force for nearly a year, and was in the Battle of Britain and operations carried it to such places as Dieppe, Boulogne, Dunkirk, Cherbourg, St Omer and Lille, and it has shared in most of the squadron’s successes. It has been thrice damaged, but has been repaired and is still in service.

1942 December 23 Orkney Herald

THE BATTLE FOR WASTE PAPER. – Every gun, rifle or grenade used by our fighting men needs paper before it can do its work. Every tank, every ship has to be fed with paper. The supply of paper for these weapons of war must be maintained whatever the cost.

But we now have a weekly deficit of several thousand tons of waste paper for our essential war needs, states the Waste Paper Recovery Association. This deficit must be made good at once.

We must recover 100,000 tons of used paper immediately if victory is to be assured.

The paper is here in this country, without using the shipping so urgently needed to supply our fighting forces abroad. It is nevertheless being wasted, destroyed and burnt by careless people who do not seem to realise how they are impeding the war effort.

Every scrap of paper you can lay hands on is urgently needed NOW. If you do not search every corner of the house for it, you are endangering the war effort. To hoard paper now is as unpatriotic as trying to obtain more than your fair share of rationed foods.

Every old newspaper, magazine, cigarette or soap carton, every old envelope, and even every label from your food tins, can help to make a vital component for some weapons of war.

If each person in the country saves 4½ lbs. of paper or cardboard each month, or if every home will make its target 17 lbs. of paper a month, our war needs can be met. That is the minimum required.

If after combing your home or office for every scrap of unwanted paper, you cannot get it collected, please write to the Waste Paper Recovery Association, Courier Buildings, Dundee, who will advise you how to dispose of it.




“HEDGEHOG,” in modern warfare, is the term used to describe massed resistance – infinitely more effective than scattered strength. The same thing is true in the case of the coal you burn; look on any large lump as your hedgehog. Don’t break it up.


A good sized lump of coal weighs about 5 lb. Broken up into five pieces, it will blaze away fiercely. Left whole and well banked, it will burn for nearly three times as long. The heat won’t go up the chimney either, as it is apt to do when the fire blazes. So go easy with your poker – keep it on the hearth and keep your coal consumption down.


1. Reduce the area of your grate with fire-bricks. Ordinary bricks will do.
2. Bank the fire with slack to make it burn longer.
3. Poke the fire from underneath, when you must.
4. Sift cinders.
5. Remove all unburnt coal from the fire at bedtime.


1942 December 30 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – CHRISTMAS PARTY. – The Frotoft Christmas party was held in Frotoft School on the evening of Wednesday, 16th December. For the first time for many years the schoolchildren gave a concert. Although there were only ten pupils, the programme was pleasing, and was well received by the audience of parents and friends. Among friends welcomed back to the district were Mrs Robertson, from Leith; Mr and Mrs Miller and family, from Evie, and Messrs John and Hugh Yorston, Yorville, who are now serving with the R.A.F. Mrs Paterson, Brinian House, acted as chairwoman. At the close of the concert, Santa Claus visited the children. In spite of war conditions, he had a splendid variety of toys, and every child in the district got a gift from “Santa’s” sack. Mrs Harcus called for a vote of thanks to Mrs Paterson for so ably carrying out her duties as chairwoman, while Rev. R. R. Davidson called for votes of thanks to the teacher and her pupils. Then tea followed. Music was supplied by the Wasbister band. At 1.30 a.m, the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” brought to a close a very enjoyable evening. Annexed is the programme: – Hymn, “Away in a Manger,” pupils; recitation, “The Spider and His Wife,” Edith Pirie; recitation, “I’m the wee chap that can do it,” infants; song, “Twenty Froggies,” pupils; recitation, “My Earliest Recollection,”. Mary Gibson; dance, “Baby Polka,” pupiIs; recitation, “The Mother’s Strike,” Rhoda and John Mainland; song, “How’d you like to be a Baby Girl?” junior girls; recitation, “Envy,” Brian Marwick; sketch, “The Christmas Pudding”; recitation, “The Big Meal,” Gilbert Pirie; song, “The Fox,” pupils; recitation, “Little John Bottlejohn,” Heleanor Mainland; interval: sketch, “Old Yet Ever New”; recitation, “My Uncle Jehoshaphat,” Eileen Mainland; song, “The Birdie’s Ball,” Edith Pirie and Chorus; recitation, “The Mother’s Strike,” Rhoda Mainland; dance, “Schottische,” pupils; recitation, “Mary Ann,” Mae Turner; song, “Dainty Lady Snowdrop,” Gilbert Pirie and Mary Gibson; recitation, “The Origin of the Camel’s Hump,” Sheila Mainland; song, “Christmas Eve,” pupils.

QUIET CHRISTMAS. – Christmas Day in Kirkwall was quiet – almost like a Sunday. The day was observed as a holiday, but no special public entertainments had been arranged, and there was, of course, no ba’. The bells of St Magnus Cathedral rang out the glad Christmas message in the morning, and a carol service was held in the Cathedral at 11.15. On Sunday special Christmas Services were held in the churches. At King Street Church at 11.15 a joint service was held with members of a Highland Regiment. Praise was led by a military band of the regiment.


Rousay Videos

A collection of links to videos with a Rousay content, hosted by YouTube.

Click on the underlined titles to watch.

The BBC2 documentary series Arena visited Rousay in 1977 to learn about the island’s film society.

1977 Rousay Film Society

Orkney Magazine No 1 – The Drift Back. A film produced for the Orkney County Council’s Education Committee by Margaret Caroline Tait (Ancona Films) in 1956. We see Neil Flaws and his family, Alice, John and Sheila, return to Halbreck, Wyre.

The Drift Back

FARA – The Orkney Series – Episode 9. Jeana Leslie and Kristan Harvey visited Rousay in October 2020. After relating the island’s history they visit Jim Craigie’s old home and play his best-known tune – Maggie Watson’s Farewell to Blackhammer.

FARA – The Orkney Series – Ep9

A video I produced of a collection of my Rousay photographs. The soundtrack is The Rousay Grand March, composed by Jim Craigie, and played by Garry Blakeley.

Rousay 1

Another collection of my Rousay photos, with three more of Jim Craigie’s tunes, The Purple Hills o’ Rousay, Guthrie’s Backsteen, and The Brig o’ Vacquoy, played by Garry Blakeley.

Rousay, Orkney ~ pictures and fiddle tunes

Throw another peat on the fire, pour yourself a dram, and watch a video I made in January 2012 – Wester in Winter, Rousay.

Wester in Winter, Rousay, Orkney

Rousay musicians Ellen and James Grieve play the tune – Edwin Flaws of Wyre by Freeland Barbour, and Maggie Watson’s Farewell to Blackhammer by Jim Craigie.

Ellen and James Grieve – Edwin Flaws of Wyre

I ventured out in a westerly blow of force 10 or thereabouts. My vantage point was the top of the Leean, with the Head of Faraclett taking a pounding.

Faraclett Head, Rousay, Orkney – in a force 10

Neil Oliver explores the Knowe of Lairo, assisted by Bruce Mainland, Cott, – a clip from the BBC TV series Britain’s Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney

In Print

Newsprint – 1941

1941 January 1 Orkney Herald

CHRISTMAS DAY RAIDER SHOT DOWN. – The most exciting event of Christmas Day in Orkney was the shooting down of a German plane in the county. The raider was apparently a reconnaissance machine, and was interrupted and brought down, according to the official announcement, by Fleet Air Arm planes co-operating with the R.A.F. Residents in certain Orkney districts had an excellent view of the sky battle and its successful culmination. The Nazi machine’s crew of four were captured.

SWAT THAT RAT. – Destroy the loathsome pest which eats £40,000,000 worth of food every year. Swat that rat. In town and country he is helping Hitler to make inroads on our food stores. The major task is for agriculturalists and those responsible for granaries and warehouses, but the householder can do his bit. Keep food and refuse out of the rodents’ reach and make your house rat-proof. There are several excellent brands of proprietary rat poison available, and your chemist will tell you how to use them. Use the bait in prolific manner. Rats are suspicious and one dead rat will warn all others away from the food which poisoned it. In warehouses, factories, shops and restaurants, use spring or break back, wire cage or sticky-board traps. Clear away heaps of waste and scrap. Keep your yards clean and starve out the pests. See that there is no casual water about. Kill them and blockade them. Help in the nation-wide campaign to destroy rats, it is vitally urgent.




VOLUNTEERS, both sexes, ages 18 to 60, as blood donors. An Orkney Blood Transfusion Association has been formed. A blood Storage Bank has been established, and your co-operation is VITAL if lives are to be saved.

Give your names and addresses to the Superintendent, Balfour Hospital,
Kirkwall, or to the Medical Officer of Health, Kirkwall.

1941 January 8 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – SCHOOL AWARDS. – At Wasbister School, before closing on Friday, December 20, for the Christmas vacation, the following awards were made: – Good attendance at day school – Irene Hourie; perfect attendance at day school – Gertrude Moar; excellent attendance at Sunday school – Evelyn Clouston and George Sinclair. Orkney and Zetland Prize – First Class – Evelyn Clouston. Sir Donald A. Smith Scholarship – Evelyn Clouston.

1941 January 15 Orkney Herald

MEAT SUPPLIES. – Please show forbearance with your butcher at this period of shortage of meat supplies; his task is not an enviable one. You are not his only customer and he must be fair, as he will be, in distributing what supplies are allocated to him. Here is the opportunity to practice more assiduously the recommendation of the Minister of Food. Plain fare and ingenuity will tide over this temporary phase, and it is confidently expected that the housewives of the North-east will uncomplainingly “make do” until more plentiful supplies are available.

EMERGENCY BREAD SUPPLIES. – The maintenance of bread supplies under emergency conditions is most important, but it may be that under certain circumstances supplies and deliveries may be suspended for a short time. In order to meet such a contingency, should it ever arise, the Divisional Food Officer asks that all householders should have in the house at all times at least one day’s supply of bread. Experience in other areas has clearly shown that such prudence is not only desirable, but essential.

EVIE – COUNTRY IN JANUARY. – Ploughing has made good progress in the last week or two, and fields of freshly overturned soil, richly brown, contrast strongly with grass fields still vividly green, giving the landscape a rather pleasing aspect these colourless days. With the increase of light, signs of plant life are apparent in meadow and garden. Spring bulbs are forcing their green spears through the soil boldly – not to be checked, we hope.

1941 January 29 Orkney Herald



We acknowledge with pleasure, a copy of the new Orkney publication for the Forces, “The Orkney Blast.” Printed on a large four-page sheet (its pages are bigger than those of the average daily), it contains numerous features calculated to interest and amuse the members of the Services. Strictly speaking, it is more of the magazine than newspaper style, but a certain proportion of bona fide news is a feature, though we imagine the lighter articles and stories will make the greater appeal. Number one of the “Orkney Blast” strikes the right note for the times, and there is little doubt that its weekly appearance will be eagerly awaited by men of the Forces stationed in the Orkney area.

The editor of the paper is Major Eric Linklater, the famous Orkney novelist, and his chief assistant is Captain Frost, a noted London journalist of the “Daily Telegraph.” Editorial staff and contributors are nearly all drawn from the Services in Orkney. Many, of course, are connected with journalism in civil life. Two of Orkney’s best-known civilians, however, have written articles for the inaugural issue. Mr J. Storer Clouston, Convener of the County, has an absorbing story of the history of St Magnus Cathedral, and Provost J. G. Marwick, of Stromness, writes on the nature lore of Orkney…..

The publishing headquarters are given as Stromness, but the paper is printed at Kirkwall by “The Orcadian” newspaper. The cost is twopence. “The Orkney Blast,” however, is not on sale to civilians.

1941 February 19 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – COMFORTS. – During January Rousay W.V.S. contributed the following war comforts: 4 pairs of gum-boot stockings, 10 pairs of socks from W.V.S. Work Party and one blanket.

1941 February 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – COMFORTS. – The Woman’s Guild have sent to the W.V.S. the following comforts knitted from their own wool: 56 pairs of socks, 13 scarves, 7 helmets, 3 pairs of gloves, 6 pairs of mitts, 1 pair of mittens, 1 pair of cuffs, and 1 Cranwell collar. At Christmas socks were sent in each of eighteen parcels to Rousay boys in the Services. The committee would like to take this opportunity of thanking all who kindly gifted raw wool, those who knitted comforts, and also those who gifted knitted comforts.

NURSING. – The annual general meeting of Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre District Nursing Association was held in Sourin School on Wednesday, February 12, at 3.30 p.m. Rev. R. R. Davidson, president, was chairman. The secretary gave a report of the Nurse’s work for 1940, and read the statement of income and expenditure. Both were approved by the meeting. Office-bearers appointed were: – President, Rev. R. R. Davidson, West Manse; hon. presidents, Mrs Walter G. Grant, Mrs Lees Low; vice-presidents, Mrs Kirkness, Quoyostray; Mr F. T. Inkster, J.P., Greenfield; hon. secretary, Mrs .Wm. Gibson, Avelshay, Rousay; hon. treas., Mr Alex. D. Craigie, Hunclett, Rousay. Executive Committee – Miss Craigie, Scockness, Sourin; Miss Craigie, Essaquoy, Sourin; Mrs Moar, Saviskaill, Wasbister; Mrs Grieve, Westness, Frotoft; Mrs Flaws, Classiquoy, Brinian; Mrs Inkster, Midskaill, Egilshay; Mr Seator, Cott, Egilshay; Mrs Flaws, Helziegetha, Wyre; Mr Craigie, Russness, Wyre. It was decided to take a five years’ lease of “Witchwood,” Brinian, Rousay, for a nurse’s house, and to move the Association’s garage from its present site to “Witchwood.” Subscriptions shall be collected as soon as the membership leaflets for 1941 have been printed.

[Wychwood was situated between Viera View and Daisy Cottage].

1941 March 5 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY. – The annual general meeting of the members of Rousay, Egilshay and Viera Co-operative Society, Ltd., was held in Sourin Hall, Rousay, on Thursday, February 20. Mr J. Inkster, president, occupied the chair. Mr J. Craigie, secretary, read the statement of accounts and balance sheet for year ended August 31, 1940. This showed that the Society had, in spite of many difficulties, a most successful year. The president, in addressing the meeting, said, in part: – “The balance sheet shows you that another successful year of your Society has to be added to the many already passed, and the committee of management has just put forward the undernoted recommendations for your consideration: 5 per cent. interest to be paid on the share capital held by members: a dividend of 1s 6d in the £ on all purchases made by members for the year ended August 31, 1940; a donation of £5 to be given to the Balfour Hospital. All the recommendations were unanimously adopted. This Society started from small beginnings, and has proved itself to be a valuable asset to the island, and can now boast of an annual turnover of over £11,000.” The present committee of management, who were all re-elected, are: – President, Mr J. L. Inkster, Woo, Rousay; vice-president, Mr J. Craigie, Furse, Rousay; and Messrs R. Seatter, Banks; H. Mainland, Hurtiso; H. Craigie, Scockness; J. Craigie, Falquoy; H. Robertson, Langskaill; R. S. Mainland, Nearhouse; S. Inkster, Kirkhall; R. Johnston, Trumland; secretary and treasurer, Mr J. Craigie, Cruar; vanman, Mr Harcus, Gorehouse; manager, Mr W. R. Walls, Store Cottage.

1941 March 19 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – CONCERTS FOR HOSPITAL FUND. – A most successful concert in aid of the Balfour Hospital, Kirkwall, was held in Frotoft School on Thursday and Friday, March 6 and 7, at 8 p.m. each evening. Chairman on Thursday evening was Rev. R. R. Davidson, M.A., and on Friday evening Dr Paterson. Votes of thanks (both evenings) to the chairmen were given by Mr Wm. Gibson. Votes of thanks were given by the chairmen to the concert party, and to Mrs Paterson for playing accompaniments. A dance followed Friday evening’s concert. It was kept up till 2.30 a.m. The committee thank Mrs Marwick, Breck, and Mrs Craigie, Hunclett, for making tea for the dance, and the Wasbister Band for supplying music gratis for the dance. £3 4s goes to the Hospital after all expenses have been paid. The programme was: – Opening choruses; chairman’s remarks; solo, The Rose of Tralee, Mr Wm. Gibson; violin selections, Messrs J. Sinclair and D. Craigie; dialogue, Looking for that Kind of Chance, Messrs R. Stevenson and D. Gibson; solo, A Paradise for Two, Miss M. Mainland; recitation, Mrs McTavish as Matchmaker, Mrs Wm. Gibson; harmonica selections, Mr D. Gibson; duet, The Crooked Bawbee, Mrs J. Grieve and Mr Wm. Gibson; sketch, Paddy’s Mistake; solo, Little Brown Jug, Mr J. Grieve; interval; violin selections, Messrs J. Sinclair and D. Craigie; solo, When Dawn Breaks Through, Miss M. Mainland; dialogue, At the Photographers, Mrs J. Grieve, Miss Gibson and Mr J. Grieve; Highland Fling, Mr H. Yorston; monologue, On the Telephone, Mr J. Grieve; solo, I’ll Walk Beside You, Mrs Wm. Gibson; dialogue, Insuring her Life, Mrs Grieve and Miss Mainland; Club Swinging, Mr J. Grieve; community singing, God Save the King. Accompaniments by Mrs Paterson, Brinian House.

1941 March 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – WOMEN’S GUILD. – There was a splendid turnout of members at the annual business meeting and social, in the Wasbister School on Friday evening, March 14. After praise and prayer, Mrs Corsie, vice-president, addressed the meeting, and referred to the absence of the president, Mrs Reid, owing to bereavement, and expressed the Guild’s sympathy. She went on to say how, in spite of wartime difficulties, they had been able to give their usual contributions to the various schemes, and in one or two cases had even increased their donations. After giving a list of comforts sent to the Services, she said how grateful the committee were to all those who had gifted raw wool, as well as to those who had done the knitting, and thanked them all. After the Treasurer’s report had been heard, the committee and officials were re-elected. During the evening the Wasbister members, who were the hostesses, served a sumptuous tea, for which they were accorded a hearty vote of thanks on the call of Mrs Paterson. Rev. R. R. Davidson asked for votes of thanks to all the performers, who gave a varied programme which was very much enjoyed by all, and also to Mrs Corsie for conducting the meeting. Rev. R. R. Davidson was given a vote of thanks for helping with the business meeting. A collection in aid of the Balfour Hospital amounted to £4 3s 6d. Annexed is the programme: – Recitation, The Lasses Noo-a-days, Miss Kathleen Gibson; solo, Beyond the Dawn, Miss Maisie Mainland; encore, Ships that Pass in the Night; talk by Rev. R. R. Davidson; musical selections, Mrs Paterson; sketch, Granny’s Parade, Mrs H. I. Gibson, Mrs Jim Craigie, Miss Margaret Donaldson and Miss Chrissie Russell; recitation, Pastor McKnock’s Address, Miss Irene Hourie; talk by Dr Paterson; monologue, Mrs Pinkerton’s Bonnet, Mrs William Gibson; musical selections, Mrs Paterson; sketch, A Neebourly Chat, Mrs John Craigie and Mrs Tom Donaldson.

1941 April 9 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – COMFORTS. – Church of Scotland Women’s Guild have knitted and despatched to the Forces this further consignment of comforts: – 11 pairs of socks, 4 scarves, and 4 pairs of mitts.

1941 April 23 Orkney Herald

It is regretted that difficulties in the obtaining of newsprint supplies have compelled us this week further to reduce the size of “The Orkney Herald,” from six to four pages. This latest reduction, however, is of a temporary nature, and it is hoped next week or the following week to revert, for some time at any rate, to our recent six-page paper. News of local interest, however, is still fully reported, only “general” articles being cut.

1941 May 21 Orkney Herald

DUKE OF KENT’S VISIT TO NORTHERN BASE. – H.R.H. the Duke of Kent recently paid an informal visit to a North of Scotland port, where he inspected a naval base and chatted with Service personnel. The Duke was in the uniform of a rear-admiral. One of his calls was at Halifax House, a Toc H establishment, where he was shown round by Rev. Eric K. Cross, the padre in charge, a brother of the new High Commissioner to Australia.

At another point H.R.H. stopped to talk with a Portsmouth woman whose husband is serving in the Navy. She told the Duke that her home in “Pompey” had been bombed, and the Royal visitor expressed his sympathy.

At one stage of his visit the Duke spoke to a soldier reporter who was “covering” the Royal tour for a local Service newspaper. He showed keen interest when told that the troops in the area had their own paper, and asked a number of questions about it. The reporter was able to give H.R.H. a copy of the publication to take away with him.

The Duke’s visit was of an informal nature throughout. Many local residents practically rubbed shoulders with the Royal visitor without realising who he was.

[The ‘naval base’ was Scapa Flow. Halifax House was on Hoy, and the local Service newspaper was the ‘Orkney Blast’. Toc H was forces signaller’s phonetics for T.H., the initials of the HQ of the organisation, Talbot House, London…..]

1941 May 28 Orkney Herald



Orkney W.V.S. War Comforts Association wants more sphagnum moss. Woollen comforts are not in great demand at the moment, but, with the wisdom of the busy bee, stores are being accumulated by the W.V.S. Committee. Winter will come again, and a great war goes on and on, absorbing our united efforts, not the least of which is to keep our soldiers, sailors and airmen happy and comfortable.

Even in this season of perpetual daylight, the men like to have some quiet amusements in the camps. Games, packs of cards, books and musical instruments have been included in our issues last month. A portable piano, an accordion and a violin have been gifted, and another piano is almost ready to go to its destination.

The Association would be pleased to hear of any piano or musical instrument for sale. Any instrument which is for sale will be bought at valuation.

Sphagnum moss is in great demand, and the Association will be glad to have consignments sent to Mrs Cormack at Messrs William Shearer’s, Victoria Street, Kirkwall. The moss should be easily gathered, and officials shall be glad to receive it in sacks without being made up into dressings. Some clean sacks are available on application to Mrs Cormack. Moss is urgently required at Red Cross headquarters …..

1941 June 4 Orkney Herald



One of Orkney’s most prominent public figures for over half a century, Mr Duncan John Robertson, O.B.E., died on Saturday at his home, Crantit House, St. Ola. He was eighty-one years of age, and his death followed a period of illness and declining health, during which he had undergone a serious operation. Eight months ago he had retired from the post of County Clerk of Orkney.

Orcadians everywhere will learn with regret of the passing of Mr Robertson. He stood for so many things characteristic of Orkney life and Orkney interests that his death seems to mark the end of an epoch in the saga of the county. To his friends and colleagues, and the people of Orkney as a whole, he seemed a link with a calmer, more dignified and more gentle age, and these islands, it will be generally felt, are the poorer for his death.

Contributions to Orkney Life. – Few Orcadians have in their day been more highly-esteemed by all classes of the community than the late Mr Robertson. Over more than fifty years of public and social life his interests were many and varied, business, literature, administration, sport, etc., but always nearest his heart was the welfare of Orkney. In innumerable ways he contributed to Orkney’s development. Not the least of these contributions was cultural. A poet and writer of exquisite charm, he at one time regularly contributed essays, sketches and verses to leading national magazines, and transmuted into the permanence of print many of Orkney’s historical and scenic glories. This literary work, though not widely known to the present generation (with the exception of his fairly recent delightful book, “Notes from a Bird Sanctuary”), is affectionately remembered by the older school of Orkney folk, and deservedly, for the charm of the Orkneys has seldom had so able in interpreter.

The late Mr Robertson was the only son of the late Sheriff James Robertson, who occupied the Kirkwall bench from 1866 to 1875. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University, and after receiving his legal training in the Scottish capital he returned to Kirkwall, where he commenced practising as a lawyer. He entered into partnership with the late Mr J. C. Macrae, the firm thereafter being known as Macrae and Robertson. In a very short time Mr Robertson’s ability in his profession became generally realised, and he went from success to success. In September 1888, while still only 28 years of age, he was appointed clerk to the Commissioners of Supply, the forerunner of the County Council, and when Orkney County Council was formed, soon afterwards, his appointment to the new body was confirmed. It will inevitably as County Clerk that Mr Robertson will be best remembered, in view of his long and distinguished tenure of the office. Readers will recall the eloquent tribute paid to his work by Mr J. Storer Clouston, County Convener, on his retiral from the County Clerkship in October last year, when he was made the recipient of a silver salver from the members and officials of the Council. During the early period of the Council’s existence, Mr Robertson guided its destinies with a sure and devoted hand, and through the entire 51 years of his clerkship his courtesy, kindliness and helpfulness endeared him to all members. While he was Clerk the Council passed through two important stages in the history of local government, the 1889 and the 1929 Acts, both periods which entailed much work of reconstruction. In his retiring speech Mr Robertson mentioned that no member of the original County Council was alive.

By virtue of being County Clerk, Mr Robertson held a large number of other appointments, including those of County Treasurer, County Collector of Rates, and many others.

Balfour Hospital Work. – Other notable service was a senior joint clerk and treasurer to the trustees of the Balfour Hospital, the work of which was very close to his heart. He was also senior joint clerk to Orkney Harbours Commissioners, and senior joint agent of the Kirkwall branch of the Commercial Bank.

For many years he had been head of the firm of Messrs Macrae & Robertson, and had fully maintained its high reputation. In his professional capacity he was factor for some of the largest estates in the county.

Reference must also be made to his long connection with the Bar of Orkney Sheriff Court, of which he was Dean of the Faculty. He was also an honorary sheriff substitute for the county.

Mere enumeration of the late Mr Robertson’s many appointments and offices, however, does not adequately assess what he meant to the life of Orkney or the loss which the county has sustained by his passing.

For notable war-time services he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1918. He was Vice-Consul for all the Scandinavian countries, and Denmark, Norway and Sweden all conferred honours and decorations upon him.

In his younger days Mr Robertson took a keen interest in sport, and he was a fine shot and an enthusiastic boatman. In later years the hobbies which claimed him were photography and natural history (bird-life in particular) and these occupied his leisure time as long as health permitted him to get about. His connection with the island of Eynhallow is a byword in Orkney. He was proprietor of the island, which was a gift to him, and it is one of Orkney’s beauty spots as a bird sanctuary. Mr Robertson’s chief delight was to spend summer days on Eynhallow bird-watching.

[Previous owner of Eynhallow was Thomas Middlemore, who lived at Westness House. After the Middlemores moved from Rousay to Hoy, Mr Robertson was appointed factor for Mr Middlemore’s Melsetter estate.]

Family Life. – In 1890 he married Margaret Keir, daughter of the late Mr Archibald Garden, J.P., of Dyke, Forres. Two elder sons served in the last war. The eldest, Major James [‘Hamish Neil’] Robertson, received the Military Cross and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour decoration. He was invalided out of the Army in 1928. The second son, Archibald Garden Robertson, served in the Black Watch and the Royal Flying Corps, and was killed in action in Flanders in 1917. The third son, serving in the present war, is Captain Donald Robertson, Seaforth Highlanders, who was a member of the Auxiliary Force, India, prior to 1939.

There are four daughters. [Jean McLeod, Margaret, Mary Beatrix, and Harriet Fernelith.]

The funeral takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) from St Olaf Church.

1941 June 18 Orkney Herald

EVIE – JUNE IN THE COUNTRY. – It is now well on to the Summer Solstice, and nature is wearing its most charming aspect. The countryside is full of beauty spots, and lovely pictures are to be found in every corner. The lavishness of Nature in its richness of foliage and blossom make us want to spend every moment out of doors. Wild flowers are most luxuriant now, and the sward is bright bedecked with blooms of many hues. Burnsides burn with the flame of the marsh marigold, so abundant round here, and mayflowers and buttercups mingle in beautiful displays everywhere. The seaside is fringed with hardy shore plants showing dainty flowerets, and the whin is the glory of every rough valley and moorland slope. Heathery whiffs from the hills blend with all kinds of seductive scents which meet us at every turn and make the air deliciously sweet. Gardens are still resplendent with early summer shows, which combine with the colourful surroundings to make the country a lovely and pleasant place wherein to dwell these long June days.

CROPS. – Generally speaking, the cereal crops look satisfactory, notwithstanding the persistent drought of the past weeks, and with the accession of more moisture and heat – now due – should show more rapid advancement. As to the grain yield, a guess can hardly be hazarded so soon. Pasture grass has been slow of growth, and the hay crop is not likely to be heavy after so dry a May. The turnip seed has all been committed to the soil, and in many fields seedlings are appearing in long green lines. Potatoes are showing up well in most fields, and granted the desired sunshine may prove to be a good crop.

PEATS. – Peat work has been greatly lightened this season by the prevalent dry conditions and the turves are now almost cured and ready for carting home. This kind of fuel has become more valuable and desirable in the country than ever since coal has soared in price and there is the likelihood of it being rationed. Every household has endeavoured to procure this product of the moors, great though the difficulties of labour and transport may be.

1941 July 16 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY SPHAGNUM MOSS. – The following reply, received by Mrs A. Sinclair, convener of the Moss Committee, demonstrates how the consignments sent from Orkney are welcomed at the Red Cross Depot, Aberdeen.

“You will receive an official card of thanks from the Red Cross for your five sacks of moss, but I wish to send a personal note of thanks because the moss is of such splendid quality, was so well gathered, and had been so admirably cleaned. I was particularly glad to handle your moss today, because the greater part of the moss that has just come in is rather damp, and, even when cleaned, can’t be packed into dressings for some days. Much gratitude, therefore to your Work Party. – D. H. F.”

1941 July 30 Orkney Herald

GRACIE FIELDS IN ORKNEY. – Miss Gracie Fields spent a few days in the Orkneys entertaining troops and workers last week. At her opening show on Wednesday last she was assisted by Ivor Newton at the piano and by an R.A.F. band. She scored a success with a new tune for the Lord’s Prayer, and was warmly applauded also for her Ave Maria and her new Victory-V song, “All for one and one for all.” Soon after arriving in Orkney Miss Fields met the “Co-Optimists,” who were headed by Phyllis Monkman. While walking in Kirkwall Miss Fields pleased the onlookers by stopping to speak to the young wife and infant daughter of a local man, Charles Thomson, who is a prisoner in Germany.

1941 August 20 Orkney Herald


His Majesty the King paid his second visit to Orkney during the present war ten days ago. Travelling in an American-built bombing aircraft, escorted by an armada of fighter planes, he landed at a Naval Air Station.

In the course of his week-end tour he visited various shore establishments and several vessels of the Fleet.

His Majesty knows Orkney well. During the last war in which he served as a midshipman and as a junior officer of the Fleet, he was frequently in the county…..

At the naval base where he landed the King met the war at first hand, for the crews of naval aircraft whom he inspected and talked to had been on patrol only a few hours before, and many of them told him vivid stories of the part they took in the recent successful raids on Petsamo [Finland] and Kirkenes [Norway].

Then, entering a car, His Majesty started upon a round of visits to inspect naval, military and R.A.F. bases, and also civilian personnel. His route took him through Kirkwall, where the people had been informed only a few hours earlier of the Royal visit. They crowded the streets and gave a cordial welcome to His Majesty…..

His Majesty’s tour was made by motor car and motor launch, which took him to depots and bases, where he inspected and talked with the personnel.

The main events entailed short journeys by motor launch across Scapa Flow. The King stepped ashore, obviously familiar with the geography. He chose to walk to the parade ground, where he passed a natural grandstand packed with men, women and children, who welcomed him with a real roar of greeting. Marines provided the guard of honour, and their band played the National Anthem, in which the crowd joined lustily.

The King inspected soldiers and sailors, merchant seamen, and civilians. His Majesty stopped and spoke to many of them. He spent most time speaking to merchant seamen, asking about their experiences in taking their ships through mine and submarine-infested waters. When the ribbons of any seaman’s breast caught His Majesty’s eye he halted to chat with him.

Elsewhere he reviewed the 2nd Orkney battalion of the Home Guard, asking beribboned men about their service. Afterwards he went on to an R.A.F. establishment and inspected the airmen.

On His Majesty’s departure the roads were again crowded. Marines lined the route, and behind them men, women and children climbed on carts and windows to catch a glimpse of the King…..


His Majesty the King spent three days with the Home Fleet in Northern waters, and during his visit stayed aboard the flagship, King George V. He met officers and men who took part in the chase of the Bismarck and who have been engaged in many other naval actions, and also saw military and flying personnel.

The King visited aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers which have taken part in recent actions (writes a special correspondent with the Home Fleet). During the whole visit, every ship was under “short notice,” and ready to engage the enemy.

In the Admiral’s cabin in the flagship the King knighted the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir John Tovey, and invested him with the insignia of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. It was from this cabin that the Admiral went up to his bridge to direct the Fleet action against the Bismarck. Seven officers and fifteen ratings were also decorated after the C-in-C…..

That day the King went aboard one of our latest aircraft carriers and some cruisers, one of which was manned entirely by West Country men.

In each ship the King found the same “happy family” spirit, and officers and men he talked to told him many stories of their encounters with the enemy…..

In another ship, the King met two ratings, who were “Royal Naval Frenchmen,” Free French sailors who have volunteered to serve in British ships, and one Norwegian. One of the French sailors is listed in the ship’s books as “Horatio Nelson,” and the King, talking to him in French, heard how he and his comrades have chosen famous British names as their noms de guerre, keeping their own names secret. Other ratings he recognised were men who used to serve in the Royal Yacht.

Next day the King spent several hours on a tour of the flagship…..When he went between decks, walking amid the tremendously complicated electrical gear and modern machinery under the glare of electric lights, the Master-at-Arms went ahead of the Royal party, carrying a lighted candle lanthorn, just as they did in Nelson’s day, because the Navy guards its traditions through the centuries. In the ship’s chapel the King saw the Bible that was used every day by his father, and given by him to the ship with the inscription in it in the King’s hand…..

Officers and men lined the side of each of the ships, big and small, and as the King passed their cheers thundered out over the waters, giving a final naval review touch to the Royal war-time visit. It was a marvellous demonstration of Britain’s armed might in the war at sea.

Admiral Tovey went ashore with the King, and as they said good-bye the King gave his last command to the C-in-C, ordering him to signal the Fleet “Splice the mainbrace” – the order to serve extra rum rations in every ship in the Fleet to drink the King’s health….

[At this stage of the war my father, George M. Fletcher, was a Lieutenant aboard H.M.S. Nigeria. I have a photograph of him shaking hands with the King during his visit to the Crown Colony-class light cruiser in Scapa Flow. Having taken part in both Russian and Arctic convoys, Nigeria was about to be assigned to operate in Operation Pedestal, as flagship of a close-escort group escorting a convoy bound for Malta].

1941 August 27 Orkney Herald

BUSY ISLANDERS. – “Norseman,” writing’ in last week’s issue of the “John O’Groat Journal,” paid the people of Orkney the following tribute: – “The people of the Orkneys have adapted themselves to war-time conditions in a way that we on the mainland would do well to take note of. On the islands of South Ronaldshay, Rousay, Shapinsay and Stronsay, together with the Orkney Mainland, nearly two million cabbages are being grown this season, over and above the usual annual crop. About eight tons to the acre is the output, and the work has been carried through in response to an appeal by the agricultural executive officer for the county. In times past poultry farming had been the means of putting Orkney on the map, but curtailment of stocks consequent on the need for economy in the use of feeding-stuffs has been a knock to the industry. But to change over from a hen to a cabbage is a trifling matter to the versatile Orcadian, and in doing so he is helping himself and, the country as a whole…..

1941 September 3 Orkney Herald

PETROL RATION CUT BY HALF. – Motorists are reminded that, as announced on July 1, October petrol rations for private cars will be halved. The Secretary for Petroleum has issued a direction reducing the value of the basic ration unit to half a gallon. A coupon for 2 units will, for instance, now be worth one gallon of petrol instead of two. This reduction does not affect motor cycles or tricycles.

EXTRA CHEESE RATIONS. – County road men are among new classes of heavy workers who are to be granted the special 8 oz. a week cheese ration already allowed to agricultural workers, announced the Ministry of Food at the week-end. The new classes entitled to the ration will be county roadmen, forestry workers, land drainage workers and land girls, workers on threshing machines and tractors, railway train crews (excluding dining car staffs), signalmen, and permanent way men, who have no access to canteens. The special ration will operate from September 22.

BREAD WRAPPING WILL STOP. – Wrapping and slicing bread will be prohibited, and the use of oil and fats in bread making restricted by an Order which takes effect of September 29, says the Ministry of Food…..



£394,893 3s 7d is announced by Orkney War Weapons Week Hon. Secretary William C. Barrack, as the final total of the county’s investments during the week. – The target figure was £100,000…..

The appeal to honorary secretaries of Savings Groups to make great efforts to increase their “business” in War Weapons Week did not fall on deaf ears. Some secretaries put themselves to no end of trouble to get the most out of their group. Astronomical figures were achieved by some. Here are some of the higher achievements:…..[ninth in the list was Rousay, Egilsay and Veira Co-op, with a creditable sum of £255 10s 0d.]

1941 September 10 Orkney Herald

CONTROL OF PHOTOGRAPHY. – The Control of Photography Order No. 3 has been replaced by another Order, No. 4, which entirely prohibits the use of cameras in Orkney and Shetland. Order No. 3 permitted the use of a camera on private property, but this is now no longer permissible.

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – The monthly meeting of Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in Frotoft School on August 26. The meeting was presided over by Miss Inkster, president, who gave as her motto, “It is easy enough to be pleasant when life flows by with a song, but the woman worthwhile is she who can smile when everything goes dead wrong.” The competition for this month was a buttonhole, worked at the meeting. There were eleven entries, which were judged by Mrs Kirkness, Quoyostray, and Miss Mainland, Westness. The prizes were awarded as follows: – 1 Mrs Craigie, Furse; 2 Mrs Gibson, Lopness: 3 Mrs Maclean, Sourin Schoolhouse. A most amusing interlude was caused by Miss Inkster’s suggestion that the members should try to write their names and addresses on a piece of paper held on their foreheads. Some fantastic results were handed in. The hostesses for the evening were Mrs Marwick, Breck; Miss Mainland, Westness, and Miss Anna Yorston, Yorville. A most enjoyable meeting was hurried to a close owing to the darkness coming down quickly. There will be no meeting in September. The next meeting will be held in the Wasbister School on a date to be fixed later.

[Everyone had to be home before the evening blackout came into operation.]

1941 October 1 Orkney Herald

PHOTOGRAPHY ORDER: AMENDMENT AFFECTING ORKNEY AND SHETLAND. – A fortnight ago it was intimated that, under a new Photography Order, the use of cameras in Orkney and Shetland was entirely forbidden. By an amendment to this Order, however, it is again permissible to use cameras on private property but not in public in Orkney and Shetland. This is a reversion to the provisions of the Control of Photography Order (No. 3) of 1940, by which “no person shall, without a written permit, have any photographic camera with him in any public place within the counties of Orkney and Shetland.” A camera may be used on private property, such as a garden or within a house.

1941 October 15 Orkney Herald



Restrictions on the taking of photographs in the Orkney and Shetland area are clarified in an official statement just issued to the Press. A previous Order which permitted the taking of photographs on private property or indoors without a permit has now been cancelled, and although there is still no restrictions on possession of a camera, its use is prohibited except to authorised persons. Any person taking photographs in a house or in a garden or backyard now commits an offence in terms of the Defence Regulations. The term “photograph” also includes any sketch, plan or other representation.

The Control of Photography Order (No. 4) 1941, states that any civilian person desiring a permit to operate a camera should make application to The Commandant, No. 2 Protected Area, whose address is obtainable from the Police or Defence Authorities anywhere in the county.

Permits to operate cameras are issued for essential reasons only, and it is an offence, further, for any permit holder to publish any photograph, sketch, plan or other representation until it has been submitted to and approved for publication by the authority who granted the permit. “To publish” means to make copies of, or circulate copies of, or otherwise exhibit.

1941 November 12 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – The annual business meeting of Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in Wasbister School on October 31, when there was a good attendance of members and visitors present. Miss Inkster, president, gave as her motto, “We are not here to play, to dream, or drift, we have hard work to do and loads to lift: Shun not the struggle, face it; ‘Tis God’s gift.” Thereafter the Secretary read the minutes of the previous meeting, which were approved. The annual reports of the Secretary and Treasurer ware received and adopted. The President, in her remarks, thanked the Committee for their help, and the members who had worked so well for the W.V.S. Voting by ballot for the new committee then took place, the tellers being Mrs R. Mainland, Mrs H. I. Gibson, and Mrs James Grieve. During the counting of the votes Mrs Paterson played some selections, and a competition, “Sing, Say or Penny Pay,” helped to pass the time pleasantly. The new office-bearers appointed are as follows: – President, Miss M. A. Inkster, Cogar; vice-president, Mrs Wm. Flaws, Hammerfield; secretary, Mrs R. E. Paterson, Brinian House; and treasurer, Mrs R. Mainland, Nearhouse. The Wasbister ladies then served tea, a feature of which was a birthday cake presented by Miss Inkster. The competition for the evening – Turnip Lantern – only produced one entry – a capital one – from Miss Dorothy Mainland, Hurtiso, who thus obtained the prize kindly given by Mrs James Grieve. The member who gained the most points in the monthly competitions was Mrs H. I. Gibson, Bigland. It was decided to hold the meetings monthly – the next being in Sourin on Friday, November 28. The competitions for that evening will be: (a) One pair knitted socks from Brora 3-ply wool, to be given to the soldiers; (b) Thin oatcakes, divided in four quarters, without shortening. It was announced that the next egg collection will take place on December 8. Votes at thanks were proposed by Mrs Kirkness to Miss Inkster for the birthday cake, the tellers and hostesses. A very hearty meeting was brought to a close by the singing of the National Anthem.

1941 November 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – FOR GOOD CAUSES. – Miss Gibson, Frotoft School, has received from The Donaldson Trust, Edinburgh, an acknowledgement of £6 5s 6d, which was collected in Rousay recently for the Trust. From the sale of poppies, £7 5s 6d was collected for the Earl Haig Fund. Miss Gibson desires to thank teachers and pupils in Wasbister and Sourin for their kind co-operation in their respective districts.

EVIE – WINTER. – Winter is now very evident over the land, and the countryside is not inviting these dark November days. The cold, bare fields, wet, muddy pathways and chill, damp winds all have wet blanket effects, making life dull and cheerless. About the only sign of life in the open during the short day is the ploughman and his team turning the soil in preparation for next year’s crop. Cattle no longer browse on the pastures, but are housed and fed indoors. The long nights spent longer for lack of the usual entertainments which the blackout, and other exigencies of war prevent.

In Print

Newsprint – 1940

1940 January 3 Orkney Herald

CALL-UP OF 2,000,000 MEN. – An “omnibus” proclamation signed by the King late on Monday night warned nearly 2,000,000 men from the age of 19 to 27 to be ready for a call to the colours during 1940. By the end of the year Britain will have 3,400,000 men in the armed forces or registered for service, in addition to Dominion contingents.

ROUSAY – NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY – ORKNEY AUXILARY. – The hon. treasurer, Mr W. J. Heddle, solicitor, Kirkwall, begs to acknowledge the sum of £3 11s 9d, being the amount collected in the island of Rousay on behalf of the above society for the current year, and to thank Mr James S. Gibson, Hullion, and the following collectors, viz., Messrs Ernest Mainland, Hugh Lyon, Gordon Taylor, Arnold Grieve, James Pirie, and Misses Irene Hourie, Evelyn Clouston and May Turner for their kind services.

1940 January 31 Orkney Herald



Only now can the story be told of the severe weather which Great Britain suffered in the earlier part of this month. Nothing could be said at the time owing to the ban on weather reports. Snowstorms, described as the worst in living memory, swept the country causing widespread dislocation of transport by road and rail.

Orkney suffered with the rest of the country. The snowstorms in this county are described as the worst for at least twenty years. Snow lay thickly for over a week, and youngsters throughout the county enjoyed an orgy of sledging, skating and other winter pursuits.

For the first time in the memory of the younger generation, Kirkwall’s Peerie Sea was frozen completely over. Youngsters were seen playing on the ice out in the centre, and one Kirkwall gentleman pushed a pram, with his baby son aboard, from one end to the other.

Intense cold accompanied the snow, but no fatalities were reported as a result of the severe conditions. Transport, too, was not too seriously affected, and there was comparatively little interruption of the mail services either by sea or air.

EVIE – THE FARM. – Work on the land was brought to a standstill during the recent severe weather, but as ploughing is far advanced here, the suspension of operations was not regarded as a serious disadvantage. Snow is not accepted pleasantly by the farmer, entailing, as it does, a lot of extra trouble in the prosecution of routine, but it may be looked upon as a blessing in disguise, its effects on the soil being beneficial for the future crop. In the recent hard spell, the farm staff were kept occupied round the farmstead attending to all live stock, whose needs were great, and it was no easy task dealing with frozen turnips, frozen water, frozen everything in the process of feeding the brutes. The ploughing match, which was to have taken place last week, has been cancelled.

“SPOOTS”. – The first “spoot” ebb of the year occurred with the full moon of this month, January, last Thursday being the day most favourable to a good catch. Usually at such time the Evie sands are dotted with fishers in quest of this favourite mollusc, but on this occasion the weather was so Arctic that – even though fish of any kind is rarely seen now in the country – only one brave man ventured forth to try his luck. Digging energetically, he was rewarded in a large bucketful of lovely fish. A general distribution of the catch was made in the neighbourhood, and many “spoot” lovers shared with the fisher in a toothsome feast. From kitchen firesides issued the appetising odour of “spoots” roasted in their shells, the aroma rivalling that of “burnt pig.”

1940 March 20 Orkney Herald



Nazi bombs rained down on Orkney on Saturday evening in the biggest scale air raid launched against Great Britain since the war began.

Fourteen enemy bombers took part in the raid, which was made as dusk was falling. Fleet units in Scapa Flow were attacked and also land objectives. One warship was struck by a bomb and received minor damage, according to an Admiralty announcement. There were seven casualties among the crew. No military objectives on land were hit, despite the hundreds of bombs dropped.

The most serious aspect of the raid was the fact that there were a number of civilian casualties, the first in air-raids in either the Allied countries or Germany.

When a salvo of high explosive bombs was dropped around cottages at the Bridge of Waithe, Stenness, one man was killed [27-year-old James William Isbister] and five other people, including two women, one of whom is 64 years of age, were injured in varying degrees of seriousness. Their homes were badly damaged.

Two Servicemen were injured as the result of bombing on the outskirts of Kirkwall.

Damage to property was considerable. Apart from the devastation wrought at the Bridge of Waithe cottages, there was damage at Holm, the mansion of Graemeshall having numerous windows broken and cottages in the vicinity also suffering. In St Ola, Craigiefield House had many windows wrecked. Haystacks and a shed in Stenness were set on fire by incendiary bombs, hundreds of which were dropped over a wide area.

The raiding bombers were given a terrific reception by anti-aircraft guns from warships and shore batteries and by fighter planes. One raider, the Admiralty announced, was shot down and others were damaged. A German bomber which crashed in Denmark was yesterday stated to have been one of the machines which took part in the Scapa Flow raid.

Germany claimed that four warships were hit by bombs and that three aerodromes, as well as gun-positions, were successfully attacked. The only comment which needs to be made on this is that the Nazi raiders have impressed Orcadians more by their vivid imaginations than by their bombing skill…..

1940 March 27 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NURSING ASSOCIATION. – Rev. R. R. Davidson, president, presided at the annual general meeting of the Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre District Nursing Association. The minutes of the previous general meeting were read and approved. This was followed by the financial statement for the year ended 31st December, 1939. The secretary then gave a report on the nurse’s work for the year, which was considered very satisfactory. At the end of this report it was stated that Nurse Shaw had resigned from her post as district nurse on 18th December, 1939, and that her place was now filled by Nurse Ferrier. The Secretary was instructed to record the following appreciation of Nurse Shaw’s work in the minutes, and to forward an excerpt to Nurse Shaw: – “The Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre District Nursing Association desires to express its appreciation of the services rendered to the district by Nurse Shaw, who was the first nurse to be appointed after the formation of the Association. Fully qualified for her work as a nurse, the district remembers her for her close attention to duty, her deep interest in the welfare of the sick and aged people whom she cared for, and her willingness to help those in trouble.” It was agreed that the office-bearers for 1939 should be re-elected for 1940. Two members of the Executive Committee, Mrs Corsie, Glebe, and Miss Mainland, Westness, had resigned, and the new members appointed were Mrs T. Inkster, Woo, and Mrs J. Grieve, Westness. The Secretary dated that the collectors would get their collecting books as soon as the membership leaflets for 1940 had been printed. There followed discussions arising out of the Association’s business matters.

1940 April 17 Orkney Herald


Twelve German bombers were shot down and at least five were badly damaged in two raids made on Scapa Flow last Monday and Wednesday. Fighter planes and anti-aircraft batteries shared the honours for this achievement…..

In the Wednesday raid no fewer than seven bombers were brought down, and two were thought to be seriously damaged. Sixty planes, it has been stated by Mr Churchill, took part in the raid.

From the enemy point of view the raids were complete failures. Neither warships nor land objectives were hit. Slight damage to South Isles farmhouses was reported…..The terrific fire put up by the Scapa Flow batteries, however, forced the raiders to a height at which accurate bombing was impossible…..

The action in this raid covered practically the whole of the county of Orkney. In the South Isles, particularly in Flotta, Longhope and South Ronaldshay, islanders had a ‘ringside’ view from safe points of vantage of the tremendous duel between the anti-aircraft batteries of Scapa Flow, the strongest A.A. defences in the world, and the raiding bombers. In the mainland and the North Isles British fighters were seen in combat with single units of the enemy. Stronsay dwellers claim to have seen two bombers brought down in these engagements. One German plane is reported to have come down in the sea off Rousay, one of its crew escaping by parachute…..

1940 April 24 Orkney Herald


Owing to my Assistants having been called up for National Service, and being unable to replace them by others, I regret that I have no alternative but to CLOSE my MEN’S DEPARTMENT to the General Public until further Notice. I shall, as and after Monday, 22nd April, undertake to do Men’s Hairdressing by Appointment only. I hope, in this way, to be able to meet the requirements of my Clients during this difficult period.

To Avoid Disappointment, Please Book in Advance.
Call, or ‘Phone Kirkwall 98.
George Swanson, 63 Albert Street, Kirkwall.




Orkney education has sustained a heavy loss by the death on Saturday morning of Mr George William Reid at his home, 14 Ayre Road, Kirkwall. For only two years less than half a century he had been a valuable part of the Orkney educational machine, first as one of the most efficient teachers Kirkwall has ever had, and latterly as an employee of the Education Authority of the County.

The late Mr Reid was a native of the island of Rousay, and received his early education at Sourin School. While a pupil there, he was the first holder of the Orkney & Zetland Associations school bursary, in 1878. After receiving his secondary education at Kirkwall Burgh School, he attended Edinburgh University, where he took his degree of M.A. He also took a course in divinity. Receiving an appointment in Kirkwall Burgh School, he taught there, under the late Dr McEwan, from 1892 until 1912, when increasing deafness compelled him to retire. He was retained, however, by the School Board, and subsequently the Education Authority, to look after the registration and clerical work in the school. This work he continued until the time of his death. After he ceased his duties as a class teacher, he continued to give instruction in Bible knowledge to candidates preparing for the Highland and Islands bursary examinations.

Of the late Mr Reid an old colleague said: “He was one of the most competent and conscientious teachers who ever taught in Orkney, as can be attested by innumerable former scholars. His natural talents were supported by his many fine qualities as a man. His loyalty and faithfulness were unquestioned. He was, in fact, as near the ideal type of teacher as it would be possible to find.”

The late Mr Reid was a man of wide interests. Everything connected with education interested him, and he was invariably well abreast of all new developments. It was his custom every year to “sit,” for his own interest, the various papers in the Leaving Certificate exams. One of his favourite pursuits was research into old court records, and the piecing together of old manuscripts. He was very skilful with his hands, and his handwriting and printing were used as models of neatness. Astronomy was one of his great interests, and in the study of this he frequently corresponded with men whose names are famous in astronomical science.

With his colleagues Mr Reid was always highly popular and respected, by reason of his pleasant personality as well as the skill and efficiency with which he carried out his work. His death leaves a gap which will be difficult to fill.

The late Mr Reid was predeceased by his wife, Margaret Yorston, some years ago. He had no family. The community’s sympathy is extended to surviving relatives.

[George William Reid was born at Wasdale in 1864, the son of William Reid and Catherine Baikie. His great-grandfather was Rousay’s famous centenarian George Reid. Teacher George’s wife Margaret was the daughter of Capt. James Yorston and Margaret Inkster, Saviskaill.]



People wishing any information regarding the Farm of NEWHOUSE, Rousay,
are requested to communicate with the proprietor, HUGH SINCLAIR, 4435
Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, who desires the boundaries, grazings, etc.,
of the farm to be respected.

[Hugh, born in December 1882, was the son of James Hugh Sinclair, News, and Margaret McKinlay, Sound, Egilsay]

1940 May 1 Orkney Herald

EGILSHAY – SERVICE TO THE MEMORY OF ST MAGNUS. – At the end of the forenoon service held in Egilshay Church on Sunday, April 21, the congregation proceeded to the monument which was erected two years ago to the memory of St Magnus, and near to the spot where he died and laid down his life for the highest cause. The gift of a wreath of lilies, which was sent by Miss Baikie, Tankerness Hall, was laid at the base of the cairn by Miss Alexander, Kirbust, the grand-daughter of the late Mr Hugh Robertson, who laid the wreath last year. There was a good attendance, and most of the farms were well represented. The elders and managers were present. The service was opened by singing a part of Psalm 100, conducted by Mr James Seator, Howe. The scriptural lessons were taken from the Book of Ecclesiasticus and the Revelations. Prayer and thanksgiving was made by Mr D. Turner, missionary-in-charge, and after paying a short tribute to the memory of the martyr, he asked Miss Alexander to lay the wreath, which was afterwards staked firmly by Mr E. Alexander and Mr John Craigie. The service was then closed with the benediction. To Miss Baikie we return our sincere thanks, writes our correspondent, for keeping the service in memory, and for the wreath, which was much appreciated by the congregation. The service was held under a bright sunshine, although a cold easterly wind was blowing.

1940 May 22 Orkney Herald



The Secretary of State for War’s appeal for local volunteer troops to deal with possible invasion of this country by German parachutists has aroused an enthusiastic response in Orkney. Up to this (Tuesday) morning in the region of 230 volunteers had been enrolled, and there is no appearance of any check in the rate of recruiting, which the “Orkney Herald” was informed at Kirkwall Police Station is increasing rather than otherwise.

Kirkwall’s first recruits were forthcoming last Tuesday night almost before the Secretary of State for War had concluded his broadcast appeal. Names were handed in by telephone. During Wednesday some 40 other recruits were forthcoming at Kirkwall.

The men who have volunteered for the Defence Corps in Orkney are of ages ranging from seventeen to over sixty. There are several youngsters of schoolboy age, and ex-Servicemen of the 1914-18 combat are largely represented. Members of Orkney rifle clubs, as might be expected, have made a whole-hearted response to the appeal.

A considerable number of the Orkney volunteers have already been equipped with rifles and ammunition. Uniforms are also to be provided. The Volunteer Force will be unpaid, and the period of service will be for the duration of the war.

Many would-be volunteers who are already in organisations are wondering whether they can take part in both these important branches of home defence. The position in Orkney is that they may volunteer and adjustments may be made later.

The need for these volunteers, the War office state, is greatest in small towns, villages, and less densely populated areas.

Mr Eden, the War Minister, in his broadcast last week, said that volunteers would not be required to leave their work or live away from home. It would be a spare time job.

The purpose of parachute raids, he explained, was to seize such important points as aerodromes, power stations, railway junctions, and telephone exchanges, and to hold them by treating disorganisation and confusion until reinforcements arrived. The success of such an attack depended on speed, and consequently the measures to defeat it must be prompt and rapid. It was upon this basis that the plans for the Local Defence Volunteers had been laid.

Chief Constable Campbell has made the following announcement regarding joining the volunteer corps: –

“Men wishing to join the Orkney Local Defence Volunteers might please report to the Police Stations in Kirkwall, Stromness and elsewhere in the county.

“Men resident in islands where there is no policeman, should write to me at Kirkwall, stating these particulars: – Full name, address, age, occupation; what knowledge of firearms and what type; what military service, if any, and in what unit; whether willing to serve elsewhere than in the immediate vicinity of home.

“Members of the A.R.P. Service may volunteer, and adjustments will be made later.”

1940 June 12 Orkney Herald

EVIE – FARM ETC. – Fields and flocks are looking well, agriculturists and flock-masters having good prospects at the moment. The cereal crops have been making good progress, despite the dry conditions, and pastures are lush. Potatoes are showing up in the farm lands and in gardens. Good weather has favoured the laying down of the turnip crop and the work has been speedily executed. Rain would now be welcomed for all purposes. Not only is the country very parched, but burns and mills are low, and many households are suffering from a meagre water supply.

LOVELY JUNE. – June is generally regarded to be the loveliest month of the year. Now Nature is wearing her most charming robes and the country has attractions that towns and cities cannot emulate. The green sward covered with wild flowers – daisies, buttercups, and many other varieties of plant life – gives a colour display that baffles description. Seas are intensely blue and the colourings of the sunsets beats the artists’ best attempts. The music of the birds fills the air with surpassingly sweet melodies. Seductive scents greet us with the blending of fragrant odours – sight, hearing, and scent all being catered for.

1940 July 31 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – HELP FOR THE BLIND. – Mr G. W. Marwick has received an acknowledgment of the sum of £8 7s 1d collected in the districts of Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre, on behalf of the Royal Blind Asylum and School, Edinburgh. The Directors desire to express their appreciation for the kindly interest in promoting the collection, and convey their thanks to the collectors who so willingly helped, also the subscribers and all who so willingly gave their support and kindly interest in the general welfare of the blind.

RETIRED FARMER’S PASSING. – The death took place at his home in Bignold Park Road, Kirkwall, last Tuesday, of Mr Thomas Inkster, retired farmer. Mr Inkster was a native of Rousay, and one of a well-known Rousay family. He occupied the farm of Nears, and was held in high respect by the community, being a progressive agriculturist and taking a keen interest in the welfare of his native island. Shortly before retiring to come and live in Kirkwall with his wife, he had a spell of farming in Aberdeenshire. Mr Inkster, who had been in good health until a few days before his death, was in his 62nd year. Of a quiet, kindly and obliging nature, he will be missed by all who knew him, both in Rousay and the Kirkwall district. County Councillor Fred Inkster is a brother of the deceased, who is survived by his widow [Isabella McKinlay], to whom deep sympathy is extended. The funeral took place to St Olaf’s Cemetery on Friday, and was well attended.

[The story of the Inkster family is covered within the Westness Farm page.]

1940 August 7 Orkney Herald


The receipt of a telegram conveying the congratulations of the King and Queen was one of the most pleasant and thrilling moments for “Granny” Mainland of 17 Victoria Street, Kirkwall, on Saturday, her 100th birthday. “Granny,” as she is known to practically everybody in the town, received many other telegrams and messages of congratulation from friends and relatives in Orkney and in the South, but the momentous day was passed quietly. A few friends who called were entertained, and “Granny” had a visit from Provost Peter C. Flett and Mr W. J. Heddle, Town Clerk, who conveyed to her the good wishes of the town of Kirkwall.

A telegram which also gave much pleasure was one from Mr Alfred Baikie of Tankerness, Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland.

“Granny” Mainland is a native of Rousay. She was born on the farm of Banks there. In her early life she spent a number of years in domestic service in Edinburgh, but has been living in Kirkwall for as long as most of the present inhabitants can remember. She is the sole survivor of a long-lived family. One of her sisters lived to the age of 92. She is in good health, and retains her faculties to a remarkable degree. Her sight and hearing are good, and she is quite active, though she does not now venture out on the streets owing to the danger from traffic. Until a month or two ago her memory was very keen, but recently it has began to fail. She is a great reader, and takes a lively interest in events of the day. She is fully aware that a war is being waged, but so many wars have been waged in her lifetime that she does not view it so seriously as most people. Those who know “Granny” best speak enthusiastically of her powers as a conversationalist. Before her memory failed she could enthral listeners with stories of Orkney life and Scottish life in her young days. She had a high reputation as an expert knitter, an activity in which she engaged until quite recently, and some of her creations in this line – quilts, for example were beautiful specimens of the knitters’ art.

The telegram which she received from the King and Queen reads:

Buckingham Palace.

The King and Queen are much interested to hear that you are celebrating your hundredth birthday, and send their hearty congratulations and good wishes.
– Private Secretary.

The Lord Lieutenant’s telegram reads:

Please accept my hearty congratulations on attaining your 100th birthday.
Baikie, Lord Lieut.

Other telegrams were from relatives or friends in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the country.

All readers will join with us in endorsing the hearty congratulations which “Granny” Mainland has already received.

[Mary Mainland was the daughter of Nicol Mainland, Cotafea, later Banks, Frotoft, and Margaret Louttit, Faraclett. Unmarried, she had two sons – Robert, born in 1868, who was a tailor in Kirkwall – and John, born in 1869. He was a grocer, and it was at his house in Victoria Street, Kirkwall, that “Granny” celebrated her 100th birthday.]

1940 August 21 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – The monthly meeting of the Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in Wasbister School on Wednesday, July 17. Miss Inkster presided, and gave as her motto, “One may do a great deal of good in the world, if one does not care who gets the credit for it.” The Secretary read the minutes of the last meeting, and also correspondence from Miss Gault, Matron of the Balfour Hospital, thanking the Rousay people for two boxes of eggs received. The President gave a talk on blood transfusion and on sphagnum moss gathering, and appealed for blood donors to come forward to the W.V.S. depot in Kirkwall. The competition for the evening was bere bannocks. These were judged by Mrs Mainland, Nearhouse, and Miss Craigie, Scockness, who awarded the prizes to – 1 Mrs Ronald Shearer, Curquoy; 2 Mrs H. I. Gibson, Bigland; 3 Mrs Hourie, Quoygrinnie. The hostesses for the evening were Misses Sinclair, Craigie and Kirkness, who served an enjoyable tea. Votes of thanks were accorded to the judges, the hostesses, and to Mrs Paterson, for supplying pianoforte music. A pleasant evening was brought to a close with the singing of the National Anthem.

[When sphagnum moss is dry it is not only absorbent but also mildly antiseptic. During the First and Second World Wars it was collected in many parts of the Highlands and Islands and sent south to be turned into wound dressings. It was also used for lamp wicks, bedding and babies nappies.]

1940 August 28 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY PICNIC AND SALE. – The annual Frotoft picnic was held at Frotoft School on Friday, 16th Aug. In addition to the usual sports and dance of former years, the committee arranged a “Bring and Buy” Sale in order to raise funds for the Nursing Association. Although it rained all day a large crowd gathered, and £21 15s was realised.

The committee take this opportunity of thanking the following ladies and gentlemen for donations of money: – Mr and Mrs Grant, Trumland House; Mrs Lees Low, Westness House; Rev. R. R. Davidson, West Manse; Miss Inkster, Mr F. Inkster, Greenfield; Mr and Mrs Mackay, Cruseday, and Miss Mowat, Sourin Schoolhouse. Special prizes for the sports from Mrs D. Wilson, “Sjo Brekka”; Mrs Craigie, Hunclett; and Mrs Grieve. Westness, are also gratefully acknowledged. To those ladies who gave gifts of sugar for the tea special thanks are due.

The sports began at 2 p.m. All the children’s races were held in the school, but the adults preferred running in the wet grass to using the limited space inside.

After tea, served at 5 p.m., Nurse Ferrier presented prizes to the winners, and all the children received chocolates, kindly presented by Mrs Grant, Trumland House. On the call of Miss Gibson a hearty vote of thanks was accorded Nurse Ferrier for presenting the prizes.

Rev. R. R. Davidson then called for votes of thanks to the Picnic Committee and to all who had helped to make the picnic a success.

The sale opened at 6 p.m. All parcels were quickly sold, and the company then patronised the many side-shows. Those who took charge of the side-shows were – Mr and Mrs J. Grieve, Mr and Mrs Wm. Gibson, Mrs D. Wilson, Mrs G. Petrie, Mrs Thomson, Mrs Cormack, Nurse Ferrier, Miss Gibson, and Master J. Pirie.

Dancing commenced at 7.30 p.m. During an interval prizes were handed out to the winners of competitions. At 10 p.m. the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” brought a very enjoyable and successful evening to a close.

1940 September 4 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY NOTES. – The summer has been favourable, and vegetation has made satisfactory progress. Grass came early, in spring, and cattle were grazing outside and getting a good bite during the seeding season. Since then they have done very well, owing to fair conditions and a plentiful supply of grass. Oat crops came away well, and only in a few districts were the ravages of grub apparent. Turnips were difficult to braird in several cases, and there was a good deal of second sowing. Since then they have done well, and are filling the drills. Hay was a good crop, but was difficult to harvest. It was secured eventually in fairly good condition. The potato crop promises excellent, and quality is good.

Peat work has been carried out on an extended scale, and has occupied much time. Early peats were quickly ready, and were easily got, but later ones gave more trouble. They have now been mostly stacked and the supply seems ample. Peats make very good fuel, and burn well, leaving light, clean ashes. It means much hard work to make a few tons of the finished article, and convey this to the homestead. But we must keep the home fires burning these days.

Grass sickness appeared for the second season in Orkney this summer. Three horses on one farm succumbed to this fatal malady. They were grazing on a field of old pasture, and had never been put on to rotation grass. This rather explodes the theory of clover being a probable cause. The field of old pasture was one which may be described as real old natural grass. It seems strange why Orkney had never had this trouble till last summer, and a second visitation this summer. Fortunately numbers both times were few.

Excellent crops of oats and bere are coming on to harvest. A beginning will be made one of these days. There is an increased acreage to handle this time, and hands are few to cope with it. There should be a larger increase in yield of grain and straw, and given decent weather, and ordinary luck, there should be ample to feed man and beast, even though they may have to depend on what the farms grow.

Silage is being made in a few cases, but Orkney has to adapt itself yet to the making of such a foodstuff for animals. No doubt an effort will be made to do this on more general lines. The making of silage is no new thing in these islands but it has never begin universally adopted. Changed times and changed conditions bring about a different outlook, and Orkney farmers are ready to toe the line. They mean to do their best. – By “Orcadian” in “Farming News and North British Agriculturist.”



ln order to accomplish speedily the desire of the public of Orkney to contribute one of those wonderful defenders of the coast of Britain, a Spitfire fighter, it is essential that we “go to it” with determination and without hesitation. Let no-one be held back from contributing, whether large sums or small, for everyone will want to feel that “this is our Spitfire.” It is the feeling of the committee organising the Fund that they want the ‘plane to be truly representative, and therefore shillings will be gladly accepted. It is anticipated that through love of country every man, woman and child be impelled by a flush of patriotism to add their mite…..


Orcadians are rallying enthusiastically to contribute to the Orkney Spitfire Fund. The first list of contributions appears below, and it will be seen that the total is close on £600. Subsequent donations, however, received too late for inclusion in the first list below, bring the actual total to date to over £1000. It is to be hoped that the county will be inspired by the fine example of the public-spirited people whose subscriptions are listed below…..

[The long list revealed donations ranging from £120 [Kirkwall cinema], £100 from a family in Willow Road, £50 from a local firm’s employees, £15 from a Kirkwall garage, £5 from a grocer ‘in appreciation of the patriotic women who bring their paper ration bags again, and again, thus saving waste’, 10/- from ‘A Widow’s Mite’, and many, many others of differing amounts].

1940 September 11 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – On the evening of Wednesday, August 14, the Rousay branch of the S.W.R.I. met in Sourin School. A large attendance of members was presided over by Miss Inkster, who, after the business part of the meeting was finished, gave a talk on the Federation meeting, held in the Grammar School, Kirkwall, on August 12. A quantity of sphagnum moss was cleaned by a number of members, and along with a further consignment will shortly be sent to the W.V.S. Depot in Kirkwall.  The competition for the evening was “Tweed Slippers,” and the judges, Mesdames Mainland and Grieve and Miss Sutherland, awarded the prizes to: 1 Miss Anna Marwick, 2 Mrs Wm. Flaws, 3 Mrs Ronald Shearer. The hostesses, Mrs H. I. Gibson, Mrs R. Shearer, and Miss Mowat, served an enjoyable tea. Hearty votes of thanks were accorded the judges and hostesses, and the meeting closed after the National Anthem had been sung.

[Just a reminder that dried sphagnum moss, also known as Bog Moss, due to its remarkable absorption and healing qualities, was used for field dressings in both World Wars. Its earliest use is on record in a Gaelic Chronicle of 1014 which revealed that the wounded in the battle of Clontarf ‘stuffed their wounds with moss.’ Highlanders, after the Battle of  Flodden in September 1513, staunched their bleeding wounds by filling them with bog moss and soft grass. Stricken deer have known to drag their wounded limbs through beds of Sphagnum Moss.]

LATE MR J. H. JOHNSTON. – Mr James H. Johnston died suddenly on Sunday, 31st August. Deceased came to Rousay from Rendall about sixteen years ago, and became very popular and highly respected by all. Mr Johnston proved to be a farmer of outstanding ability, and the many awards that went to Trumland Farm from local shows justified the success he attained as a stock-breeder. In connection with his career as a farmer, he was ably assisted by Mrs Johnston, who belongs to the Ritch family of Kierfold, Sandwick. Deceased was closely connected with Rousay Agricultural Society for many years, and was president in 1929. Mr Johnston was a loyal and devoted member of the Church of Scotland, and for almost fourteen years led the praise in Trumland district church. He acted in a similar capacity in Rendall Church before coming to Rousay. He was a member of the Congregational Board. The Church has therefore lost an enthusiastic worker, whose service was ungrudgingly given. Deceased is survived by Mrs Johnston and three of a family – two sons and one daughter. The eldest son, Robert, resides at Trumland. James William holds an important appointment at the Rowett Institute Aberdeen. Violet (Mrs S. J. Inkster) resides at Wasdale, in Sourin district. To his widow and family the heartfelt sympathy of the island is extended.

[James Halcro Johnston was born at Crook, Rendall, on 8 June 1880. His wife Margaret Ritch was born at Binaquoy, Firth on 22 June 1880, and died at Bankhead, Sandwick, in 1960]  

1940 September 18 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY SPITFIRE FUND’S SWIFT PROGRESS. – Excellent progress is being made in the Orkney Spitfire Fund, which, as readers will see from the list below, has now reached a total of £3,644 13s 3d, which leaves a little over £1,300 to be still subscribed. At this rate the Orkney Spitfire should be provided in well under a month…..

[The list included – £5 14s 2d collected by counter box in a Victoria Street fruiterers; £2 from a Hoy ‘War Hater’; 52 threepenny bits, being one for every week of the war, from Mrs M.; 10s, A Mite from Eday, from one who wishes to strengthen the arm of those who sweep the dragon from the skies, and hasten the day when the dove of peace will take her flight; £10 from Two Admirers of the RAF; 5s from An Old Soldier from Clestrain; ‘Baby Pittman’, Slater Street, Kirkwall, collection of 350 3d pieces – £4 2s 6d……and many others.]

1940 October 2 Orkney Herald


Orkney’s Spitfire Fund now stands at over £6,000. This is the last week of the Fund, the management committee, at a meeting last week, having decided to close it on Saturday, 5th October. Subscriptions will be accepted up to that date by the treasurer, Mr George Eunson, Union Bank, Kirkwall, and the local bank offices and newspaper offices.

Suggestions for a name for the Orkney Spitfire revealed a preponderance in favour of the name “Orkney.”

It will be seen that Orkney has provided over a thousand pounds more than the £5,000 required to pay for a Spitfire. The additional money will go a considerable way towards the cost of a second fighter…..

1940 October 9 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY FIGHTER FUND NOW TO PROVIDE A HURRICANE. – Orkney Spitfire Fund Committee, at a meeting last Tuesday, reconsidered a previously taken decision to close the Fund, and decided that it shall continue under the name of the Orkney Fighter Fund. Having provided the necessary £5,000 for the purchase of a Spitfire, Orkney, it is hoped, will now go all out to contribute a second £5,000, which will send a Hurricane into the sky…..

1940 October 16 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – RED CROSS. – The Rousay S.W.R.I. have handed over to Red Cross and Hospital 8 pillow cases, 8 pairs of slippers, and one bag of sphagnum moss.

WOMEN’S VOLUNTARY SERVICES. – The Work Party have handed over to the War Charities Depot, up to date, 22 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of gum-boot stockings, and 2 dressing gowns.

1940 October 23 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – S.W.R.I. – The monthly meeting of Rousay’s branch of the S.W.R.I. was held in Frotoft School on October 4. There was good attendance of members and friends, presided over by Miss Inkster, who, after giving the motto of the evening, extended a cordial welcome to the visitors present. After the minutes had been read and the business part of the meeting conducted, a thrift parcel, containing a child’s cot and accessories, and also children’s garments, was on view. The ingenuity displayed in the making of all the articles was wonderful, and everyone agreed that it was a pleasure to see such exhibits. Miss Thora Kirkness, Quoyostray, gave a demonstration of glass painting, and showed a number of decorated articles in glass ware, and also some specimens of jewellery in enamel work. The competition for the evening was a hand-sewn pillow-slip. The judges, Mrs Robertson of Viera Lodge and Mrs Marwick of Breck, awarded the prizes to: – 1 Mrs Shearer, Curquoy; 2 Mrs Grieve, Westness. The hostesses, Mesdames Mainland and Grieve and Miss Mainland, served a splendid tea. On the call of Miss Inkster, hearty votes of thanks were accorded all the ladies who had contributed to the evening’s enjoyment, and the evening’s proceedings closed with the singing of the National Anthem.

1940 December 18 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – EARL HAIG FUND. – The Earl Haig Fund collection for Rousay amounted to the excellent total of £6 12s 3d, made up as follows: – Sourin district, £2 16s 8d; Wasbister, £1 6s 6d; Frotoft and Brinian, £2 9s 1d. Mrs Gibson, organiser of the collection, wishes to thank the teachers in the districts and the children for their help in collecting.

COMFORTS. – The following war comforts have been sent to headquarters: – From W.V.S. Work Party – 18 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gum-boot stockings, 3 pairs of mitts, 2 pairs of slippers. From Mrs Robertson, Langskaill, per Miss Inkster, there have gone five pairs of socks.