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


By Features Reporter

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A group of children became Norse invaders for a morning when they took part in a Viking Ventures event Dunnet beach in 2007. They learned skills such as grinding corn, milking a cow and spearing a deer for dinner, as well as navigation techniques.
A group of children became Norse invaders for a morning when they took part in a Viking Ventures event Dunnet beach in 2007. They learned skills such as grinding corn, milking a cow and spearing a deer for dinner, as well as navigation techniques.

Bignold Hospital fees

From the Groat of September 23, 1921

Trustees of the Bignold Hospital in Wick had agreed rates of "contribution" from patients admitted to the wards.

The hospital had experienced "greatly increased costs of maintenance" and those in charge took the view that it was "the general desire of the patients themselves that there should be some fixed principle of contributions expected from patients who are in a position to make a contribution".

It was agreed that at least 20s per week might fairly be expected from patients admitted into the public wards, where the circumstances of the patients allowed.

Patients admitted to the private ward could expect to pay between £3 3s and £5 5s per week, but that charge could be lowered should the patient's circumstances not permit such a fee.

It was also agreed that the private ward would be available for any poor patients requiring isolation, free of charge, when the ward was vacant.

Meanwhile, Wick Town Council staff had been busy repairing stretches of High Street and Bridge Street.

The roads, which had suffered from lack of maintenance during the war, had been "re-metalled and rolled".

The council had a complete and efficient new plant for road work, which included metal crushing machinery, a road scarifier and a steam roller.

Harbour roadway left off upgrade list

From the Groat of September 24, 1971

The thoroughfare known as Long Shore Road or Harbour Road was not to be included in Wick Town Council's latest list of public works suggested for the government's special assistance programme, despite its deteriorating condition.

Described at a meeting of the council's administration committee as "no-man's land", the road had fallen into disrepair over the previous two decades.

Burgh surveyor Alex S Begg said it was an "estate road" and not the responsibility of the council, while the harbour trust too said it did not own it.

At one time the road had provided valuable access for those associated with harbour industry, including fish-curing, but those days had changed and the council now had other priorities.

Not only had the road deteriorated but the wall beside it had become unstable. One councillor considered that it would be used much more if these problems could be remedied, but in the end the committee decided that upgrading other, busier thoroughfares would be of more benefit to the town.

Elsewhere, James Morrison had retired as manager of Fred Shearer Ltd, Wick, after 33 years' service.

A special function was held to mark his departure which was attended by senior members of staff as well as the directors of the firm who had motored north from Edinburgh for the occasion.

Scrabster set to exploit potential

From the Groat of September 27, 1996

A dramatic rise in the amount of fish being landed at Scrabster was poised to bring new jobs in downstream industry such as processing.

Harbour trust chief executive Ronnie Sampson had revealed that part of the land reclaimed from the sea had been earmarked for processors and talks had been held with a number of potential developers, including the British agents for a Russian trawler fleet.

News of the interest had come as as the trust prepared to appoint financial advisers to raise £30 million for an oil basin at Scrabster.

Fish landings at the port had increased from £2 million in 1986 to £25 million the previous year, but none of it was processed locally. It simply went south on a lorry.

Processing at Scrabster would add value and create new jobs.

Meanwhile, the visit by Prince Charles to the Wick Heritage Centre was "one of the great days" for the award-winning museum, according to Wick Society chairman Iain Sutherland.

The prince had made his visit seven years after the Queen Mother had opened the new art gallery there as part of the town's quatercentenary celebrations.

Mr Sutherland said that the prince had been knowledgeable and interested in the displays.

Earlier he had visited the newly-opened Laurandy Centre where he chatted to the senior citizens who attended the facility.


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