In Print

Newsprint – 1939

1939 January 11 Orkney Herald


The annual ploughing match of Rousay Agricultural Society was held on December 29 on a field kindly granted for the occasion by Mrs [Anna] Marwick, Innister. Two champions and thirteen ordinary ploughmen took part, their work being of a high standard. None too favourable weather conditions adversely affected the attendance of competitors and spectators.

The judges were Messrs James Halcrow, Crowrar; Alfred Leask, Aikerness, and James Scott, Smithy Cottage, whose decisions gave entire satisfaction.

Match arrangements were ably carried out by the following committee: – Messrs Robert S. Mainland, president; Robert Johnston. vice-president; John Linklater, secretary; Ronald Shearer, treasurer; Hugh Craigie, George Reid, John Mainland, William Inkster, James Lyon, Samuel Inkster, David Moar, John Craigie and James Craigie.

Mr Robert S. Mainland, Nearhouse, president, visited the field on behalf of the Highland and Agricultural Society.

During the day, judges, committee and ploughmen were liberally entertained by Mrs Marwick and her daughters, and in the evening the prizes were handed out at the farm house by Mrs Marwick, after which the secretary proposed a very hearty vote of thanks to Mrs Marwick, for handing out the prizes and for the use of her field and her hospitality to judges, committee and ploughmen.

After the prizes were read out, judges, officials and friends sat down to a sumptuous dinner, and the usual toasts were proposed. Mr Stanley Firth entertained the company with song and story, which were much enjoyed.

The Society takes this opportunity of thanking Mrs Marwick, judges, and donors of special prizes, and all those who made the match such a success.

Prize-List – Champions. – 1 James Craigie, Furse; 2 Hugh Robertson, Langskaill. Feering – James Craigie; finish – James Craigie; straightest ploughing – James Craigie.

Ordinary. – 1 and Highland and Agricultural Society medal, Sinclair Craigie, Falquoy; 2 Emslie Craigie, Trumland; 3 William Moar, Saviskaill; 4 Fred Kirkness, Quoyostray; 5 Hugh Craigie, Scockness; 6 Hugh Russell, Brendale; 7 John Marwick, Westness; 8 Arnot Sinclair, Langskaill; 9 Sam. Craigie, Westness; 10 George Grieve, Langskaill. Feering – Hugh Craigie; finish – Sinclair Craigie; straightest ploughing – Sinclair Craigie; neatest ends – James Marwick, Innister.

Harness. – 1 Emslie Craigie, Trumland; 2 James Craigie, Furse; 3 Arnot Sinclair, Langskaill; 4 Hugh Craigie, Scockness; 5 William Moar, Saviskaill; 6 Roderick Marwick, Nearhouse; 7 George Grieve, Langskaill.

Grooming. – 1 Arnot Sinclair, Langskaill; 2 James Craigie, Furse; 3 Emslie Craigie, Trumland; 4 Hugh Russell, Brendale; 5 George Grieve, Langskaill; 6 William Moar, Saviskaill; 7 Roderick Marwick, Nearhouse.

Best matched pair – Emslie Craigie. Best pair on field – Emslie Craigie. Best turnout, horses and harness – Emslie Craigie. Youngest ploughman – Hugh Mainland.

Cup, presented by Messrs P. L. Johnston, for best ploughed rig, to be won three years – Sinclair Craigie, Falquoy. Cup, presented by Miss Inkster (Cogar) for most points, to be won three years – James Craigie, Furse. Cup, presented by Dr Thomson, for straightest ploughed rig, to be won three years – James Craigie, Furse. Cup, presented by Messrs R. Garden, Ltd., for grooming, to be won three years – Arnot Sinclair, Langskaill. Medal, presented by Rev. R. R. Davidson, for best ploughed rig, to be won two years – Sinclair Craigie, Falquoy. Medal, presented by Wm. R. Walls, Co-operative manager, for 1st in champion section, to be won two years – James Craigie, Furse. Medal, presented by Wm. Brough, jeweller, for best feering on field, to be won two years – James Craigie, Furse. Medal, presented by A Friend, for best finish on field, to be won two years – Sinclair Craigie, Falquoy. Medal, presented by Robert Harvey, Birsay, for feering and finish combined, to be won two years – Hugh Craigie, Scockness. Medal, presented by Wm. Harvey for best harness on field, to be won two years – Emslie Craigie, Trumland. Medal, presented by R. G. Harrold, for best harness in everyday use, to be won two years – George Grieve, Langskaill.

1939 January 18 Orkney Herald

EVIE – JANUARY. – January is speeding on its way and the days are lengthening perceptibly. The darkness no longer falls suddenly on the back of noon, but comes gradually with a kind of weird twilight. As the day lengthens, the cold strengthens, and there have been some very low temperatures lately – though the weather of this month so far has not been so severe as is usually experienced. January being regarded as the most wintry month – associated as it often is, with gales and heavy snowfalls. In the country it is a long, dreary month. All Nature is asleep and the outlook on dank, dead fields is depressing. Indoors there is a re-action after the excitement of the festive season, and things seem flat for a time. But the 25th (’twas then a blast of Januwar wind blew hansel in on Robin) usually stirs up interest and revives life with the anniversary celebrations of our National Bard.

RAIN STORM. – Last Saturday’s loveliness – with its fresh sprinkling of snow and glistening frost – was quickly dissipated by a sudden tempest of wind and rain, to which we awoke on Sunday morning. The scene was completely changed, and in place of the bright snow and frost, a deluge of water encompassed the land, miniature lakes appearing all over the district. Low heavy clouds darkened the atmosphere necessitating the use of lamps far into the day. Burns swelled and became noisy torrents and many fine cascades were formed. The wind blew from the south-east at gale force for a short time, and then veered to the west, abating after mid-day when the rain also subsided. Farm folk whose duties took them outside were soaked to the skin in the shortest of time, while the storm was at its worst. Few ventured out to worship, the attendance at church being very meagre.

1939 January 25 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY- ORKNEY AUXILLARY. – The hon. treasurer, Mr W. J. Heddle, begs to acknowledge the sum of £3 15s 6d, being the amount collected in the island of Rousay on behalf of the above for the current year, and to thank Mr James Gibson, Hullion, and the following collectors, Misses Gibson and Sutherland, and Mr Shearer, and the scholars for their kind services.

1939 March 1 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – NURSING ASSOCIATION. – The annual general meeting of the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre District Nursing Association was held in Sourin School on Friday, 24th February. The attendance was small. Rev. R. R. Davidson, president of the Association, acted as chairman. The secretary gave the financial report for the year ending 31st Dec., 1938, and also read a report of the Nurse’s work for the year. All office bearers and members of the executive committee for 1938 were re-appointed. Mrs Grant, Hillhead/Trumland, and Mrs Lees Low, Westness House, were proposed as honorary presidents. Several matters came up for discussion, and there were also some proposed amendments to the constitution and rules. Membership leaflets will not be printed until these amendments have been approved by Association members.

1939 March 29 Orkney Herald

Diamond and Silver Weddings were celebrated in the island of Rousay by Mr and Mrs Magnus Craigie, of Ploverhall, Wasbister, married in Holm 60 years ago, and their son and daughter-in-law, Mr and Mrs Alex. Craigie, of Hunclett, Frotoft, married at Hullion on 27th February 1914.

[Magnus was the son of Alexander Craigie, Whoam, later Falquoy, and Ann Murray, Tofts, Quandale. He and his wife Ellen Cooper lived at Claybank, Wasbister, where 12 of their 13 children were born. They then moved to Pliverha’, where their youngest daughter was born. Their son Alexander was married to Rose Ida Gibson, Hullion, and they lived at Turbitail before moving to Hunclett.]

1939 April 26 Orkney Herald

EARTH HOUSE AT GRIPPS, ROUSAY. – A communication by Mr Walter G. Grant, F.S.A.Scot., was read [to members of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland at a recent meeting in Edinburgh], in which he described an earth-house at Gripps, Rousay, found and carefully preserved by Mr [George] Reid of Tratland [Frotoft]. There were no surface indications of the presence of the structure, which consisted of a low passage and chamber, cut into the clay subsoil and simply roofed with slabs, without built walls. The roof of the chamber was partly supported by a built pillar. A few sherds of pottery and utilised stones were recovered.

EVIE – FARM. – A great deal of work has been done in the fields during the last week, and sowing is now far advanced. Conditions would not be considered ideal, the soil being too moist except on very dry ground. Germination must be slow for lack of heat, and the blade will be long in appearing should the present cold atmosphere continue. Grass is coming up very slowly, and will not serve for herbage in the near future, but fodder is not yet scarce and will likely hold out as long as it is required. Many lambs are now skipping about the fields, and seem to be good specimens. As usual, there has been a fair percentage of losses.

SEASON. – A wintry spring has been disappointing to country dwellers, who eagerly watch for the renaissance, and there has been little invitation to leave the fireside and seek the open in a biting atmosphere with cold, dull skies. April, however, has inspired hope with Easter and summer time, and cold and dark must yield to the repeated attacks of sunshine, intermittent with showers. Now all the birds are singing in the early morning. The ecstasy of the blackbird is thrilling, and the music of the wrens delightful. In the garden the floral season has opened with daffodils and wallflowers, and on the wayside banks the primroses are appearing. Trees are awakening, and tufts of vivid green make bright spots on the landscape, all giving the greeting of Spring.

1939 May 24 Orkney Herald

EVIE – PEATS. – Peat cutting is now in full swing, and during the past week of good weather many “banks” were “shorn,” and slabs of turf thrown out to the wind and the drought. The moors are now very dry, facilitating the cutting of the turves, and the peats flung out from the tusker have been very firm and easy to handle. They have been given a very good start, and it is hoped this season may prove more favourable to the curing process than last.

WEATHER AND SEASON. – May has nearly run its course – and still no definite assurance of summer. Sunshine and blue sky have only been occasional, and there has been no real warmth. Temperatures have been mostly below the seasonal average, and frosts common at night. Yet, Nature is spreading her mantle of green o’er the earth, and the country is now looking pretty, in form and colour, with the wakened cultivated fields and the various bright blossoms by the wayside. Marsh marigolds and whin are in great abundance, their flaming gold predominating. Primroses, modest and less gay, are littered everywhere, filling the air with their pleasant, fragrant aroma.

1939 May 31 Orkney Herald

TO LET. – Furnished Cottage; living room, bedroom, scullery, and outhouse.
Apply, Mr Cormack, Daisy Cottage, Trumland Pier, Rousay.

1939 June 28 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – REGATTA. – The annual meeting of the Rousay Sailing Club was held at Trumland Pier on Wednesday evening, 21st inst. A good attendance of members was present. After the reading of the minutes, the treasurer submitted his report, which showed a considerable balance to the credit of the club. The following office-bearers were elected for the coming season – Commodore, Mr Walter G. Grant, Trumland; secretary and treasurer, Mr James S. Gibson, Hullion; timekeeper, Mr James Craigie, Pier Cottage; starter, Mr John Gorn, Trumland. The usual committee was appointed to carry out the arrangements on the regatta day. The event was fixed tor 14th July, and it is expected that there will be the usual trip to Rousay. The races are to be as formerly, and bills posted in the several places interested in the course of a week. For the convenience of visitors, a tea room will be open during the day. From reports to hand it is expected there will be a good turnout of competitors.



There are few things more typically Orcadian than a night at the cuithes. Cuithe fishing is carried on amid scenes of exquisite beauty and romance, and I do not doubt that there could not be a more home stirring thought to an Orcadian exile than the memory of a night at the cuithes, gilded, as all such nights are, with a glorious sunset. I can remember nights of such a nature and I never think of them without feeling a strange tug at my heart calling me again to the sea.

The summer evening was beginning to wrap its mystic folds about the farms and crofts as a fisherman friend and I picked our way down the green path that led to the boat noust. We were going to the cuithes and I carried three bamboo wands in my hand, while my companion (I will call him John) bore on his back an old fashioned leather cubbie in which to bring back the catch. When we reached the beach all was still, and no sound broke the silence except the gentle lapping of the water against the rocky beach.

“Pity hid wisna’ sic a bonny nicht, and we wid hae steud a better chance o’ getting two firs,” said John.

“We can only try our luck,” I replied, and we proceeded to pull the boat down over the rocky ledges, after we had arranged the various necessary articles in the boat, which we needed with us. The sun was just going down as we pushed off, and there was surely never more brilliant sunset than that. The vast expanse of water that waited for this golden orb lay out like a burnished sheet of pure, glittering gold. The scene, however, was more than a mass of colour; it was made resplendent by that living Spirit of Nature which shone through it, giving it real, heart-stirring power. With the quietness and sombre peace one felt almost that same feeling as when in a beautiful cathedral which always exercises the power of true art upon one. Slowly, inch by inch, Phoebus sank to rest, while the whole west was lighted up in indescribable beauty. The land around added enchantment to our surroundings, which were more like a scene in a dream than a real tangible panorama of land and sea. Over the fields, and even the salt water, came the lovely scent of new mown hay, while besides the banks of a slow flowing burn, lay some cattle chewing the cud. We could see the crofters busying themselves about a few last duties before retiring for the night, while from their lums there eddied forth the homely peat reek, which mingled with the mists descending from the hilltops. Save the occasional cry of a lonely curlew, silence was never broken except for the muffled beat of the oars in the rowlocks, which sounded like some phantom warriors of old walking home from their last battle. The sun had sunk and the scene was becoming dim in the semi-darkness when the fish began to take, as John expressed it. Cuithe fishing does not provide so much sport as other kinds but it is very diverting, and three rods will keep a person working if the fishing conditions are favourable.

After two hours fishing we had ten score in the boat and were glad to turn homewards. How can I describe the beauty of that bay on that midnight in summer! The silvery threads of the moon cast their enchanting rays across the sparkling waters, while away to the west all the waste of waters lay like a dormant beast of great latent powers. Across the sky hung wisping, silvery clouds, and all was made more beautiful by the softness created by the semi-darkness.

1939 June 30 Aberdeen Press & Journal

ROUSAY NEEDLEWORK. – The members of Rousay W.R.I., Orkney, met in Wasbister School with Miss Inkster, president, in the chair. She discussed the motto – “None of us get dizzy with doing too many good turns for others,” and introduced the demonstrator, Miss Pexton, who delighted with a demonstration of the making of loose chair covers and afterwards judged the overall competition. There were numerous entries, and the winners were:- 1. Mrs Hourie, Maybank; 2. Mrs Craigie, Furse; 3. Mrs Gibson, Lopness. The latter part of the programme was devoted to entertainment, solos being sung by Miss Pexton and Miss Sutherland, with accompaniments by Mrs Paterson. Tea was served by the hostesses.

1939 July 5 Orkney Herald

GUILDSWOMEN IN ROUSAY – LARGE GATHERING AT SUMMER MEETING. – Over three hundred Church of Scotland Guildswomen from all parts of Orkney travelled to Rousay on Tuesday afternoon of last week for the summer meeting of the Orkney Presbyterial Council, which was held in Trumland Church. The delegates travelled to the island on the steamers Earl Thorfinn and Iona.

On arrival at Rousay, the delegates were entertained to tea in the open by members of the Rousay Women’s Guild, after which the meeting took place in the church…..The meeting concluded with the singing of the doxology and the pronouncement of the benediction by Rev R. R. Davidson. Before the steamer sailed for Kirkwall the party had a short period in which to visit friends and go sight-seeing in the island.

1939 July 19 Orkney Herald

YACHTSMEN’S HECTIC DAY AT ROUSAY. – Shades of their daring Nordic forbears, riding the angry waves in their frail crafts, Orkney yachtsmen had a hectic day at Rousay on Friday. The occasion was the annual regatta of the Rousay Sailing Club, and, although entries were short of former times, the quality of sailing and seamanship was of a very high standard.

The wind, almost reaching gale force, was from the north-west, blowing the whole length of Wyre Sound. All races were from Trumland Pier, and for the sailing races a buoy had been anchored to the north-east near the Avelshay shore, and another across the sound near the Wyre shore, giving a three-mile triangular course.

Seven sailing craft took part – four Kirkwall and three Rousay – viz., Mizpah (W. Grieve, Kirkwall); Vala (D. M. Cooper, Kirkwall); Esmeralda (T. Sinclair, Rousay); Snowdrop (C. Logie, Rousay); Sea Imp (W. Sinclair, Kirkwall); Gipsy (M. Bolt, Kirkwall); and Ivy (W. Marwick, Rousay).

Only three sailing races were sailed on this occasion. The large and small all-comers’ classes were sailed in conjunction, and there no entries for the 17ft. Class race.

Officials in charge at the regatta were – Mr Donald Spence, of Nigeria; Mr John Gorn, Trumland House, and Mr J. S. Gibson, secretary of the club, and they were assisted by Mr George Eunson, Orkney Sailing Club secretary, Kirkwall. Mr Spence the genial and efficient timekeeper, is a member of His Majesty’s Colonial Administrative Service in Nigeria, West Africa, and is at present on holiday in Rousay.

Below we give a brief summing up of the salient points in the various events.

22ft. And Under Class. – Five boats of the 22ft. class were got away to a fine start sharp at 12 noon. The race was twice round the course, a distance of approximately six miles. Sea Imp, Mizpah, and Vala were first across the line, but only a few seconds separated first and last boats. First leg of the course, to Avelshay buoy, was a dead beat to windward, and on crossing the starting line Vala had to give way to Mizpah to avoid collision.

Esmeralda overtook the others, and was first round the buoy at Avelshay, with Mizpah less than one minute behind. Esmeralda had completed the short reach to Wyre buoy before Sea Imp reached Avelshay, and Vala and Snowdrop came next. The first-named four boats had made the beat up the sound in a series of short tacks, while Snowdrop had made two long tacks, and apparently had oversailed the mark.

After the run down to the pier buoy, Mizpah had reduced Esmeralda’s lead by ten seconds to 50. Sea Imp was 3 mins. 30 secs. behind the latter, and Vala crossed 2 mins. 22 secs. later. Vala appeared to be feeling her weight of canvas badly. Snowdrop was well in the rear.

On the second beat to windward, the leader gained almost two minutes on the second boat (Mizpah) and rounded the buoy 2½ mins. in front. Vala’s crew lost precious minutes with a broken mainsheet, and Snowdrop moved up to fourth place. On this round Snowdrop followed the others’ example of making short tacks, and profited thereby.

Esmeralda steadily increased her lead from the others, and was across the finishing line before the third, fourth and fifth boats had rounded the Avelshay buoy for Wyre and thence the finishing line. Mizpah followed the Burray-built yacht across the line 1 min. 45 secs. later, with a lead off Sea Imp of 7 mins. 15 secs. A dog-fight for fourth place saw the former cross the line 18 secs. ahead, to lose place to the smaller yacht on corrected time by 42 secs.

14ft. And Under Class. – Half-an-hour after the 22-footers, two boats of the 14ft. class – one Kirkwall and one Rousay – were got away to a fair start. The course in this case was only once round. The Kirkwall boat, Gipsy, being of longer waterline, quickly moved away from the Ivy, of Rousay. This event became too one-sided to be interesting.  Gipsy’s youthful crew sailed a beautiful race, drawing steadily away from her rival, and on crossing the finishing line was 14 mins. 36 secs. ahead, giving a lead of one minute less on corrected time.

All-Comers’ Race. – A spectacular beginning to the all-comers’ race in the afternoon was marred by the fact that Esmeralda’s jib ripped from bottom to top just after she crossed the starting line. Six boats lined up at 3 o’clock, and on the starting gun all were across the line in close proximity, the first four being dead level. The management committee on the pier decided that the race  should be only once round the course, a distance of three miles.

Esmeralda’s crew downed their torn canvas, and sailed for over ten minutes under mainsail alone before they got another jib bent on. She made surprisingly good time under such conditions, but had dropped to fourth position on reaching the Avelshay buoy. Mizpah took the lead from the start, with Vala and Sea Imp on her tail.

Mizpah rounded the first buoy exactly one minute ahead of Vala, and Sea Imp and Esmeralda 50 and 60 seconds later respectively.

Vala had shortened sail considerably for this race, and showed a tremendous improvement. The Rousay boat Snowdrop had also shortened sail, but did not shine, dropping steadily behind, with the much smaller Gipsy only a short distance in her rear.

It was an inspiring sight to see the first four boats cracking on before the wind with only short distances between. Excitement was tense as Mizpah crossed the finishing line first with Vala pressing hard in her rear. Mizpah was first on corrected time by the narrow margin of two seconds.

Some sort of misunderstanding at the finishing line, whereby Sea Imp failed to cross the line, saw Esmeralda take third place, followed by the smaller classed Gipsy. Sea Imp sailed away from the pier, and only crossed the line when making for her moorings. Strange to say, the Rousay skiff made exactly the same blunder, and made straight for her moorings, failing altogether to complete the course.

Gipsy, being the only entrant for the smaller class for all-comers, was sailed along with the larger boats. She gave a very creditable performance, and was awarded a special prize.

Rowing Races. – Men’s Doubles. – The first of the rowing races – two men to each boat – attracted four entries, one of whom, however, broke an oar at the start and retired. Winners were   – 1 Messrs Craigie and Johnson; 2 Messrs Seatter and Mainland; 3 Messrs Taylor and Swanney.

Men’s Singles. – A broken oar necessitated the retiral of one of the three boats in the singles race for men. During a neck-and-neck struggle one of the contestants threatened to ram the well-known motor boat Otter, but a chorus of yells from the pierhead attracted his attention and saved the situation. A very close finish saw Mr D. Taylor move forward to win by a short (stem) head from Mr Seatter.

Boys’ Race. Two pairs of boys entered for the rowing doubles for boys, and did the round in fine style. Results: – 1 J. Seatter and R. Mainland; 2 R. Stevenson and L. Irvine.

Ladies’ Race. – No entries were forward for the ladies’ rowing race, which had to be cancelled.

Motor Boat Race. – The motor boat race attracted three entrants – one Kirkwall, one Rousay, and one from Wyre. Boats were set to drift before the wind, and on the starting gun headed into the wind at speed. The Wyre boat (Lorna) took the lead, followed by Saga, of Kirkwall, and, third, Austin, of Rousay.

Presentation of Prizes. – Cups, medals, and prizes were presented by Mrs Walter Grant, Trumland House, at 6 p.m., in the Orkney Steam Navigation’s store at the head of the pier. Winners’ names were called by Mr D. Spence, and the presentation party also included Mr Gibson, Mr Gorn, and Mr Fred. Cormack, Swartland House, Dounby. A vote of thanks to Mrs Grant for presenting the prizes was called for by Mr Gibson, and heartily accorded.

1939 July 26 Orkney Herald



In a boiling flurry of escaping air and spouting, plunging, rust-coloured foam, the huge bow of the ex-German battle-cruiser Derfflinger, freed from the sea-bed mud of Scapa Flow, heaved to the surface on Monday afternoon. This (Tuesday) afternoon the stern, at present still lying on the sea-bed, will be raised.

The raising of the Derfflinger is the outcome of about a year’s work by salvage men of Metal Industries Ltd., under the direction of Mr Thomas McKenzie, chief salvage officer.

The 27,000-ton Derfflinger lay, keel uppermost, with a list of 20 degs., in 150 feet of water in the part of Scapa Flow known as the Bring Deeps, between Cava and Hoy, and her salvage constituted the most difficult of the many arduous undertakings by the Scapa salvors. Similar to the Hindenburg, the Derfflinger was one of the newest vessels of  the High Seas Fleet. She is 700 feet long. Divers and men working inside the hull of the submerged ship encountered air pressures of over 50 lbs. per sq. inch.

The sixth scuttled German battleship to be raised at Scapa by Metal Industries, she is the last upon which salvage efforts will be attempted. As recently announced, Admiralty requirements at Scapa and at Rosyth, where the ships are broken up, will result in Metal Industries vacating their shore base at Lyness and part of their premises at Rosyth…..

1939 August 9 Orkney Herald


Glorious summer weather favoured Orkney Sailing Club on the occasion of their annual regatta in Kirkwall Bay on Saturday…..For all the sailing events a full-sail breeze was blowing from about east, and though finishing thrills were few, some magnificent racing was seen of the various legs of the course…..

The premier honours of the day were carried off by the Rousay yacht Esmeralda, owned and sailed by Mr Tom Sinclair. This craft lifted the silver cup and medal for 22ft. waterline boats, and the silver cup and medal for the all-comers’ race…..

Fourteen boats took part in the day’s racing, six of these being “invaders,” namely, the Kyno, Avalon, and Ira (Stromness), the Whitemaa (Finstown), the Annie (Longhope), and the Esmeralda (Rousay).

First of the races began at 12 o’clock, the race for the 22ft. class boats. Four boats were entered for this – the Esmeralda, Sea Imp, Mizpah and Vala. The course was a five-mile one, Kirkwall Pier to Scargun buoy, to a boat moored off Thieves’ Holm, and back to the pier.

Mizpah was first across the line, with Esmeralda, Sea Imp and Vala following in that order. On the way to Scargun Vala took the lead, but Esmeralda pulled up and was first around the buoy. Sea Imp beat Vala for second place round. On the beat to Thieves’ Holm, Esmeralda showed her quality by drawing ahead. Vala and Sea Imp had a great fight for second place, which ended with Vala going into the position of chief challenger to the Rousayman. Esmeralda was first round the Thieves’ Holm mark, with a good lead. Vala was second. Sea Imp was third, but was being rapidly overhauled by the Mizpah.

On the run home to Kirkwall Pier Vala made a fine challenge to the Esmeralda, and decreased the Rousay boat’s lead considerably. As she approached the finish the Rousay boat presented a fine sight. Carrying a load of canvas she was lying over at an angle of more than 45 degrees to the water. Vala crossed the finishing line not far behind the Esmeralda, and Mizpah sprang a surprise on the Sea Imp by coming up into third place…..

1939 August 16 Orkney Herald


Rousay Agricultural Society’s annual cattle show held last Tuesday in a field given for the occasion by Mr Robert Seatter, of Banks, was one of the most successful held in the island for many years.

Entries in all sections showed a considerable increase and the quality of the stock was well maintained. Rousay is practically the only show in the county to reveal an improvement in numbers this year, a fact which reflects great credit on the enthusiasm of the local exhibitors.

Once again the society was fortunate in having beautiful weather for their show, and throughout the day many spectators patronised the showyard. In close proximity to the cattle show was the Horticultural Society’s exhibition, which also helped to draw the crowds to Sourin.

A good number of visitors travelled to the show from Kirkwall in the Earl Sigurd, and were boated ashore, just below the showyard…..

The premier award of the show went to Mr John Craigie, Furse, for the championship in the horse sections, and the reserve ticket to Mr George Reid, Tratland. In the cattle section both the championship and reserve tickets were awarded to Mr Hugh Mainland, Hurtiso…..

At the close of the show there was a combined prize-giving, when the many handsome prizes of the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies were gracefully handed over by Mrs Walter G. Grant, Trumland House, who was cordially thanked for her services.

[There were two very long lists of prize winners – too many to mention I’m afraid, but I now include the after dinner speeches, and Horti-show judges comments]

The Dinner. – The official dinner held at the close of the day’s proceedings in Sourin School was under the auspices of both the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies. After an appetising repast had been served, Mr Robert Mainland, president of the Agricultural Society, proposed the health of the cattle show judges in a speech in which he complimented Messrs Wood and Learmonth on the very able way in which they had performed their task.

Replying, Mr James Wood [Garson, Sandwick] said it was his first time in Rousay in an official capacity, and he had enjoyed himself very much indeed. As for the quality of the stock placed before them, the tops, both in the horse and cattle classes were of a very high standard. The first three in the cross cows were fit to show at any local show. The yearling filly they had placed champion in the horses appeared to them a very nice animal, with Iots of promise about her, and they would be interested to know how she developed.

He would have expected to find a bigger exhibition of sheep in an island like Rousay, but the sheep before them were of good quality. He thanked the Society again for their hospitality.

Mr George Learmonth [Pow, Sandwick] associated himself with the remarks made by Mr Wood. He had enjoyed every minute of his day in Rousay, and had been much impressed by the stock set before them. He appreciated the quality of the cross cows, and the tops among the horses were really very good. Both the horses and the cattle were brought out in very good shape, but he thought the handling of the cattle might be improved. They had once had the same difficulty at Dounby, but they had been told that a good plan was to lead the cattle three times round the house the day before the show. They in Dounby had found that this was a good “cure” for too-lively cattle.

Concluding, Mr Learmonth spoke of the excellent way they had been treated by the Society during the day, and thanked the ladies who had looked after their needs so well.

Mr J. W. Grieve, on behalf of the Horticultural Society, thanked the horticultural and industrial judges for their work during the day, and asked the company to drink their health.

Mr Moncrieff and Miss McVicar replied and thanked the Horticultural Society for their hospitality during the day. Both spoke of the improvement in the sections they had judged, and gave comments on the quality of the exhibits.

The dinner concluded with votes of thanks to the chairman, and the ladies who had carried out the catering.


Rousay’s flowers, fruit, produce, and handiwork have seldom provided a better display than they did last Tuesday when the island’s Horticultural Society had their annual show in the Comrades’ Hall, Sourin. In all sections, except vegetables and industrial items, which showed a slight drop, there was an encouraging increase. Baking and dairy sections were particularly successful this year, and flowers made a brilliant show despite the bad season.

The occasion was favoured with lovely weather, and a large crowd of visitors from all parts of the island, as well as from Kirkwall and the mainland, attended in the course of the day…..

The show arrangements were carried out with notable efficiency by the following attendants: – Miss Mainland, Mrs Kirkness, Miss Kathleen Craigie, Mr J. W. Grieve, and Mr James Craigie, assisted by other members and official of the Society, with Mr John R. Linklater as secretary.

Judges Comments. – Miss McVicar (dairy produce) – “This section of the show is greatly improved since last year. It is a good display all over. Quality has improved, and there are much more entries. The hen eggs are splendid, the first prize-winner especially being lovely eggs.

“Among the preserves the gooseberry jam was the biggest entry and, perhaps, the most difficult to judge. Marmalade was a good class. The best pot of preserves, however, was a pot of gooseberry jelly.

“There has been a big improvement in the butter class, due to the fact that the Society has instituted champion and “amateur” sections. There have been as a result more entries than last year, and the quality is very good. Cheese was also very good, and difficult to judge.”

Mr Moncrieff (baking) – “Baking is a big section compared to what it was when I was here two years ago. Fruit cakes and currant loaves were predominant among the entries, and both these classes were really splendid. Every exhibit was a good one and it was very difficult, especially in the currant loaves, to distinguish what was best.

“Bere scones and queen cakes were about the biggest entry of the lot. Fancy baking showed a big increase, and the quality of both fancy and plain baking was exceptionally good. I can quite truthfully say that in the baking section of the show there was a tremendous improvement from the last time I was here.”

Mr Sclater (fruit, flowers and vegetables) – “The flowers, fruit and vegetables were on the whole a very creditable show. Vegetables were not quite so many or quite so good as they were last year, but the flowers were very good indeed, considering the season. I was very pleased with the winning bowl of cut flowers. It was a very fine exhibit. The children’s display was pleasing, and among the annuals escholtzias were outstanding.”

Mrs Sclater (handiwork) – “The industrial section was a very fine display, and the exhibits showed much skill, and there was evidence that a great deal of time and care had been taken with them. The best of the exhibits was a gentleman’s white pullover, but it was a very good display on the whole.”

[A long and comprehensive list of prize-winners followed the judge’s comments…..]

1939 September 6 Orkney Herald




Britain declared war upon Germany at II a.m. on Sunday. This step was taken following Germany’s invasion of Poland on Friday morning and the Reich’s failure to reply within the specified time to Britain’s ultimatum that unless Germany withdrew her forces from Polish territory Britain would without hesitation fulfil her obligations to Poland.

First act of the war between Britain and Germany was the torpedoing of the 13,000-ton Glasgow liner Athenia 200 miles west of the Hebrides.

On Sunday afternoon the King approved of the establishment of a British War Cabinet similar to that set up in December 1916. The principal ministerial change is the introduction of Mr Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty, the post which he held at the outbreak of the Great War. Mr Anthony Eden becomes Secretary of State for the Dominions. Though not actually on the War Cabinet, he will be afforded special access to it.



Churches throughout Orkney on Sunday concerned themselves almost exclusively with the European calamity, and Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany. In their addresses and their prayers, ministers interceded on behalf of Britain’s cause, and asked the Divine blessing that the principles for which this country had entered the conflict would prevail.

Despite the attraction of wireless sets with their hour by hour news of the grim trend of events, people throughout the county turned to the churches for comfort and guidance…..



Rev. G. Arthur Fryer, M.A., B.Sc., C.A.G.S., minister of St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, is to give instructional lectures on A.R.P. work in Stromness and Kirkwall on Sunday first. The lectures will deal with the proper use of civilian gas-masks, and other important matters.

Notice is urgently drawn to these lectures as they may not be repeated. The Kirkwall lecture will take place in Paterson Church at 12.30 p.m., and the Stromness lecture at 3 p.m., in St Peter’s Church. Every adult civilian should make a special effort to attend one or other of these lectures. They are not for children, who should be instructed by their parents or guardians. It is essential, however, that all responsible persons, and in particular all householders, should know what to do in case of an air raid. The lectures will last about an hour.



One of Canada’s most distinguished Orcadians is the Rev. Dr John G. Inkster, minister of Knox Church, Toronto. Dr Inkster is a native of Rousay, with which he still has many close connections. Recently, it was announced in Toronto newspapers, Dr Inkster has left Canada to undertake a six months’ pastorate in New Zealand. With his wife, he sailed from New York on August 22nd. Though he is to return to Toronto, Dr Inkster has now given up active ministry, after 36 years of unsparing labour. Of this period, he has been 18 years as pastor of Knox Church.

After his visit to New Zealand, Dr and Mrs Inkster may pay a visit to Orkney, before returning to Canada. It is not many years ago, as will be remembered, that Dr Inkster paid a previous very successful visit to his native county and island…..

At 72 Dr Inkster is one of Toronto’s most active clergy and one of the outstanding figures in the city’s religious affairs. In his early days in Toronto he was prominent in debating, literary and sporting circles. He is a close friend of Mr Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister.

In his eighteen years at Knox Church, Dr Inkster has had a fine record. He has performed 611 marriages and 628 baptisms. Close on 2000 had joined his church by certificate, and another 1125 by profession of faith. When he came to Knox Church, the congregation numbered 500. Now it is 1700. He has regularly preached six sermons a week, and in his ministry at Knox has preached over 5000 sermons in all. On the pastoral side, he has averaged 30 visits a day to members of his flock.

Though he has definitely retired as minister in charge of Knox Church, he will have many other duties on his return from New Zealand.

Dr Inkster’s ambition is to complete 50 years of preaching, and judging from his energy and enthusiasm the odds are on that ambition being achieved.

1939 September 13 Orkney Herald

ON THE FARMS. – While political circles are seething under the thunder of war, the peace of the countryside is still undisturbed. Farmers and their men are remarkably calm, and are quietly and efficiently carrying out the great task of harvesting. During war the farmer swings into the limelight. His position only then becomes appreciated. Most townspeople have “roots” in the country. As a result, they can help on farms which they know, and thus prove beneficial to their country. Crops are good this year, and the harvest will be a much better one than last year’s. Work is carried on much more easily, owing to the good condition of the crops, and modern machinery can be used to great advantage.

1939 October 18 Orkney Herald


The British Navy sustained its second heavy blow of the war when, on Saturday, it was reported by the Admiralty that the battleship Royal Oak had been sunk by what was believed to be enemy submarine action. Lists of names of survivors issued total 414, so that almost 800 men have been lost. The battleship had a complement of 1200 officers and men…..

[Strict censorship and rules regarding the release of sensitive information meant that the press were not able to release the fact that the Royal Oak was in Scapa Flow at the time. It was officially revealed for the first time a few days later by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons. The battleship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. The raid made an immediate celebrity and war hero out of the U-boat commander, Günther Prien, who became the first German submarine officer to be awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. Before the sinking of Royal Oak, the Royal Navy had considered the naval base at Scapa Flow impregnable to submarine attack, but U-47’s raid demonstrated that the German navy was capable of bringing the war to British home waters. The shock resulted in rapid changes to dockland security and the construction of the Churchill Barriers around Scapa Flow. Of Royal Oak’s complement of 1,234 men and boys, 835 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.]


Kirkwall had its first air-raid warnings of the war on Saturday, when no fewer than three were given. Though several warnings had already been received in the district, these were the first that have actually been given in the town.

The sirens sounded first at 7.30 in the morning, but the alarm was a short one, the all-clear being given some five minutes later. The second alarm occurred at 10.15 a.m., and was of longer duration. It was nearly half an hour before the all-clear was sounded. The final warning was given at 6 p.m., and lasted some 15 minutes.

No enemy aircraft was seen over the town at any time, however, and no gun-fire was heard.

Kirkwall took the alarms calmly. The early-morning signal caused the biggest thrill though few people were about at the time. The siren’s “fluctuating” wail sounded clearly through the town and outskirts, and gave many inhabitants a rude awakening. People who were in the streets at the time made their way indoors or proceeded to an air-raid shelter. This warning, as has been said, was a short one, the all-clear – a continuous note of the sirens – being heard in a few minutes.

One result of the first alarm was that most workers took their gas-masks with them when they left their homes. Some employers sent home members of their staffs for their respirators in cases where they had not brought them along.

Large numbers of folk were about the streets when the forenoon and evening warnings were given. Again everybody showed admirable self-control, and got under cover in orderly fashion. Policemen, air-raid wardens, and special constables were on duty, advising, instructing, and directing. Children were taken into houses and escorted to air-raid shelters. Outside workers took cover until the all-clear was sounded. Inside workers went on working.

At no time was there any running about. Kirkwall may he said to have behaved admirably in its first “test.” The 6 o’clock warning was, in fact, received not only calmly, but even casually. Many people did not even condescend to let it interrupt their tea.

It was noticed in some cases, particularly during the first warning, that a number of people did not appreciate the difference between the warning signal and the all-clear. The warning is a fluctuating – or rising and falling – note, whereas the all-clear is a continuous note on the same pitch. In any case, the second signal given may always be assumed to be the all-clear.


This forenoon (Tuesday) has been an exciting one for Kirkwall, with three air raid warnings in quick succession. The first warning was given at 10.20, and was the longest yet received in the town. It was an hour and a quarter before the all-clear was sounded.

During this alarm gunfire was heard, and Kirkwall people state that they saw enemy aircraft in the vicinity. At the time of going to press, however, no official announcement has been issued.

During the alarm streets were cleared in orderly fashion. A number of shops closed until the all-clear. At Kirkwall Grammar School, local children were sent home. Country pupils were accommodated in the school’s air-raid shelter. The all-clear sounded between 25 and 20 minutes to 12.

At 12 noon another warning was given, but it was short, the all-clear signal being given in ten minutes. At 12.45 there was another warning, which is still in progress at the time of writing. Gunfire was again heard.

EVIE – NO PITCH-BLACK NIGHTS. – Since the black-out came into force, the countryside has been very fortunate in that nights have been unusually bright. “Macfarlane’s lantern” – the moon – has been marvellously radiant, seldom obscuring itself under cloud, but straining, purposely, as it were, to cast its lustre on the earth and compensate for the darkened conditions. In the absence of the moon, there have been beautiful nights of stars, major planets swelling the mighty heavenly host when sea and land were lightened. And, not least, brilliant displays of aurora have illumed the landscape, and shown up the pathways. Getting about has therefore presented no difficulty so far.

1939 November 1 Orkney Herald

BEWARE ON THE SEASHORE. – The Admiralty announce that in present circumstances it is most dangerous to touch any apparatus found washed ashore on account of the possibility that it may be an enemy mine or torpedo or other containers liable to explode. The finder should report the matter to the nearest police station so that steps can be taken to assure its safe removal.

1939 November 22 Orkney Herald



Three German planes, it is reported, were seen over the Orkneys this (Tuesday) forenoon. Air-raid sirens were sounded in Kirkwall at 10 o’clock. Children were dismissed from school and the air-raid wardens and special constables went on duty.

A large number of people saw a black German plane flying in a northerly direction between Kirkwall and Wideford Hill. It was travelling very fast, observers stated, and its height was not more than 3000 feet.

Another two planes were reported to be seen at Stronsay and other parts of the North Isles. No gunfire was heard from Kirkwall, and there is no official statement so far as to whether British planes pursued the raiders. No bombs were dropped. The air raid warning lasted three-quarters of an hour, and the all-clear sirens sounded in Kirkwall at 10.45.

EVIE – SEASON AND WORK. – The clocks have been again put back, and the reverting to Greenwich mean has curtailed the afternoons considerably, making a much longer night. Days will now shorten rapidly as they approach their limit, and we are going to be in for a dark, cheerless time. The outside now is not inviting. Chill November blows o’er the land, and the fields are wet and lifeless. Farm work is mostly centred round the steading these days, the staff being kept busy feeding all the livestock, threshing, cleaning up, and doing many odd jobs. Work on the land can stand still for a time, as ploughing is far advanced. Never has one seen so many autumn-ploughed fields, the result of continued fine weather after the finish of an exceptionally early harvest.

1939 December 13 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY WAR CHARITIES – ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE TO APPEALS. – Particulars of donations to Orkney War Charities are given below, and the Conveners of the Women’s Voluntary Services and Orkney War Charities Association wish to express their warmest thanks to all members of the S.W.R.I. branches and church guilds who willingly assisted in making the door-to-door collections for war charities purposes and to make comforts for the Forces. A few returns have not yet come to hand. These will be included in next month’s report.

This is a statement of the work accomplished by the various work parties in Orkney since the movement started. As readers will realise, this report covers only the commencement of the work.

Large quantities of material and wool have recently been distributed. Much work has been held up owing to the difficulty of procuring wool for knitting. Our members are so eager to knit and sew that many more garments will be made now that supplies are forthcoming. The enthusiasm for making comforts will be unabated during the winter months.

Thanks are also due to all who have made gifts in kind, as these are greatly appreciated…..

[A list of financial donations followed – Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre’s contribution amounting to £19 12s 0d.]

THE LIFEBOAT’S WORK AT WAR. – The principle article in the current issue of “The Lifeboat,” the journal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, is on the lifeboat service and the war. It recalls the great record of the service in the last war, when over 5,300 lives were rescued from shipwreck round our shores, and over 180 boats and vessels saved from destruction. The first two months of the present war show that the lifeboats will again play a very important past in national defence. From the 3rd September to the end of October, lifeboats were launched 156 times, and rescued 213 lives. That is 26 lives a week, over twice as many as the average of eleven lives a week rescued since the lifeboat service was established 115 years ago. The lifeboat service is carrying on in face of new dangers at sea, and in spite of many difficulties, for both the Navy and the Army have taken important members of its staff.

1939 December 20 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – EARL HAIG FUND. – Miss [Kathleen] Gibson, Frotoft School, has received a letter from the committee of the Scottish Branch of the Earl Haig Fund. They acknowledge with thanks the sum of £4 14s 8d, collected in Rousay by the school children who sold poppies. In Sourin District £1 15s 6d was collected, 19s in Wasbister District and £2 0s 2d in Frotoft and Brinian districts.

PRESENTATION TO NURSE SHAW. – A pleasing little ceremony took place at Bellona, on Saturday afternoon, when a deputation, consisting of five members of the Nursing Association Committee, called on Nurse Shaw to make her a presentation. Those present were Rev. R. R. Davidson, West Manse (president), Mrs Corsie, Glebe, Mrs Moar, Saviskaill, Miss Inkster, Cogar, and Miss K. Gibson, Hullion (secretary). In making the presentation, Miss Gibson said that they were all sorry to lose Nurse Shaw. She had done her work faithfully and well during the time she had been in Rousay. When it was learned that Nurse was leaving the island, Association members expressed a desire to show their gratitude for services rendered. With some of the money subscribed, a nurse’s gold watch was purchased, and the secretary now asked Nurse Shaw to accept it along with a wallet of Treasury notes. The other members of the deputation associated themselves with Miss Gibson’s remarks, and wished Nurse Shaw the best of luck and happiness in her new post. In replying, Nurse Shaw thanked the Association warmly for their generous gifts. She said she had always longed for just such a watch. Now she would be reminded of Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre daily, as she went about her work. The watch was supplied by Mr J. Kemp, jeweller, Kirkwall, and bears the following inscription: – “Presented to Nurse M. Shaw by R.E. & W.N.A., 18th Dec. 1939.”

1939 December 27 Orkney Herald

ORKNEY’S MERRY CHRISTMAS DESPITE OF BLACK-OUT. – Orkney spent a merry Christmas in spite of Hitler and the black-out. All over the county Yuletide functions were held as usual, and for this week-end at least the war took second place in everybody’s thoughts. Christmas presents, Christmas cards, Christmas parties, Christmas puddings, Christmas carols and Santa Claus – these were the things that mattered, and fortunately they were enjoyed in freedom from air-raid sirens.

If Orcadians had a good Christmas, the season was no less enjoyable for the county’s additional population of Servicemen and Servicewomen. Everything was done by their own organisations and by the Orkney people to make their Christmas a happy one, and from appearances it was evident that members of H.M. Forces within the bounds of the county had, on the whole, a week-end scarcely less cheery than that of their pals who were lucky enough to be on leave. Many Orkney Servicemen were able to get home for the festive season.

There were a large number of Christmas Day functions in Kirkwall, most of which were principally for the benefit of the Services, though civilians were able to participate to a certain extent.

All churches held special Christmas services, which were very well attended. Kirkwall Salvation Army Corps members braved the black-out to embark on carol-singing expeditions, which were greatly appreciated.

Kirkwall’s Christmas Day was notable for the absence of the street ba’ games, banned by the Town Council on account of war-time conditions. As a consequence the streets had a strangely deserted appearance, the comment, which practically everybody made – “What a miss the ba’ is.” The many strangers in town regretted missing this Kirkwall “novelty.”