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Looking back – news from the John O'Groat Journal of yesteryear


By Features Reporter

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Provost John Sinclair of Thurso inspecting members of the local Boys' Brigade company who were well turned out for the occasion. The year is not known.
Provost John Sinclair of Thurso inspecting members of the local Boys' Brigade company who were well turned out for the occasion. The year is not known.

Mystery death at Thurso

From the Groat of July 29, 1921

The circumstances attending the death of the unknown man whose body had been found in a disused shed at Holborn Head "continue to be wrapped in mystery", the John O'Groat Journal reported, and "in consequence give rise to much speculation on the part of the public".

The body had been discovered by shepherd Mr R Begg who had been searching for sheep. His dog had failed to respond when called and was found by his owner at the entrance to the shed.

When he investigated, Mr Begg found the "dead body of a man, with a double-barrelled sporting gun lying beside him".

The man, a stranger to the district, appeared to have been about 40 years old and was wearing a dark grey tweed suit. "Beyond a pipe and tobacco pouch in his pocket, there was nothing left about the person to help towards the identification of the man."

Elsewhere it was reported that "handsome and up-to-date new premises" had been opened in Lower Dunbar Street in Wick by John Miller, grocer.

Mr Miller was very well known in the locality and his new establishment, which was "modern in every respect", was situated at the corner with Argyle Square, "and lends special attractiveness to the neighbourhood".

No viaduct for Dunbeath

From the Groat of July 30, 1971

The local MP gave an assurance that a planned viaduct that would have resulted in the loss of Dunbeath's Highland Games venue and public playing field would not be built.

Speaking at the opening of the annual Dunbeath Highland Games, Robert Maclennan announced that an alternative scheme for the diversion of the A9 trunk road was under consideration.

The MP said he had been made aware of the "considerable anxiety" in the village about the viaduct plan and the "inappropriate rerouting" of the A9.

He stated that in his view the plan would be a "serious threat to the amenity of the village and to its scenic attractiveness" and he had received assurances from the Under Secretary of State for Scotland that "construction of the viaduct will not take place in the near future, if at all".

He spoke of the strong objections to the plan and explained that a more modest scheme was now being considered, to rebuild the bridge over Dunbeath Water and improve the approaches to it.

Meanwhile, Wick's municipal camping site at the riverside had been full all week and special arrangements had to be made to accommodate other holidaymakers who had wished to camp there. A large number of caravans and tents had been allowed onto the green above the boating pavilion.

It was considered that visitor numbers had reached a peak.

Explanation sought over offices

From the Groat of August 2, 1996

A Thurso councillor called on the local enterprise company to explain how it was funding the construction of its new headquarters on the outskirts of the town.

Elizabeth Macdonald said that the public was "entitled to know whether this project has been made possible as a result the extra £9 million for the Dounreay rundown".

The £1 million bill was almost identical to the final instalment of the government aid package for Caithness which was expected to come on stream that year.

However, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise refused to make any distinction between the source of funding for the new office complex and the rest of its budget.

The John O'Groat Journal had also learned that CASE had turned down a six-figure saving offered by a firm of local architects in favour of a more lavish design drawn up by a practice in Inverness.

Stockan, Sloan and Sinclair Macdonald of Thurso was the only local firm to make it onto the shortlist, with a scheme costing £650,000.

However, CASE went with a £1m plan by Maxwell & Co, despite a CASE policy to buy services from local firms whenever possible.

The construction contract had been awarded to Halkirk-based DM Geddes.


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