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

By Features Reporter

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Members of Dounreay Sports and Social Club having a quiet drink in the Viewfirth lounge bar in Thurso. The picture is thought to have been taken in the early 1970s.
Members of Dounreay Sports and Social Club having a quiet drink in the Viewfirth lounge bar in Thurso. The picture is thought to have been taken in the early 1970s.

Harbour gifted to villagers

From the Groat of December 9, 1921

Donald Mackay, the proprietor of Lybster and Swiney, had made a free gift of Lybster harbour to the people of the district – a "generous action" which had been "hailed with much appreciation by the whole community".

The move followed a public meeting earlier in the year at which a committee had been formed to improve the harbour and to see if a grant could be given by the Development Commissioners for the work, as had been done at other small harbours.

The committee had explained that the harbour had been constructed 30 years previously at a cost of £40,000 and how "by a reasonable expenditure it could be improved for the accommodation of modern fishing vessels".

However, it became clear that private ownership of the harbour would rule it out of government funding.

Writing to the committee, landowner Mr Mackay stated: "In the interests of Lybster generally and the fishermen in particular, many of whom rendered good service to their country in the war, it will afford me great pleasure to make a free gift of the harbour to a local committee appointed for the purpose by the tenants and feuars... and owners and occupiers of property in the village and neighbourhood."

Vet lab up and running

From the Groat of December 10, 1971

The new North of Scotland College of Agriculture veterinary investigation laboratory at Newlands of Geise, Thurso, had become fully operational, serving 15 veterinary surgeons and the several thousand stock owners in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney.

In use were three laboratories, office and staff room, with finishing touches being applied to the post-mortem and incinerator departments.

Two scientific assistant worked alongside veterinary investigation officer Mr W S Johnston, and other staff members were expected to join them in the coming months.

Elsewhere it was reported that there had been 30 entries for the Croft sherry art competition run by Wick Round Tablers in conjunction with the wine manufacturing company.

The local entries were exhibited in the town's Station Hotel alongside winning entries from similar contests held elsewhere and non-competitive paintings by local artists.

The winning Wick entry came from John McCallum, of Nicolson Street, with Gordon Inglis, of South Road, taking second prize.

Staying with the arts, Thurso Players were staging a production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in the high school hall, to run for three nights, while Wick Players were treating audiences to the pantomime Cinderella, also to run for three nights.

Top award for Wick BB member

From the Groat of December 13, 1996

The highest honour in the Boys' Brigade, the Queen's Badge, had been awarded to Wick member Euan Ramsay, of Staxigoe.

The presentation was made at the annual BB dedication service in Wick Old Parish Church where BB captain Thomas Mackay explained the work and dedication, both within and outwith the company, needed to achieve the award.

He said that the Queen's Badge was not handed out every day, and, in fact, it had been 12 years since one had last been presented to someone from the Wick company. "It's very prestigious and very few boys in the BB in general get that far."

Meanwhile, a local councillor called for more business to be devolved from Inverness as a way of cutting costs.

The suggestion was made by West Caithness representative John Mowat following the release of details of the expenses claimed by members of Highland Council.

Mr Mowat, who received more than £13,000 in allowances and expenses for a six-month period, the highest of the Caithness councillors, explained how his reliance on public transport meant he often had to stay overnight in Inverness.

He maintained that these sums could be reduced if more work was passed to the area committees.

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