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


By Features Reporter

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Daniel Wares Georgeson (seated in front, behind the framed picture), who founded the Wick legal firm D W Georgeson and Son in 1887, at a gathering with other pillars of the community.
Daniel Wares Georgeson (seated in front, behind the framed picture), who founded the Wick legal firm D W Georgeson and Son in 1887, at a gathering with other pillars of the community.

Objections to Wick clubs' licences

From the Groat of January 13, 1922

Wick Town Council agreed to lodge an objection to the renewal of licences for the Caithness Club and the St Fergus Lodge of Freemasons.

While the granting of alcohol licences was a matter for the sheriff, the council had been informed of the application and agreed to object on the basis that the town had voted to go "dry".

While the No-Licence vote had yet to be enforced due to appeals in law from the licensees, councillors considered that a verdict would be delivered sooner rather than later.

"When the time came for the Temperance Act to be enforced it would be an intolerable injustice if the publicans had to close their public houses and licensed grocers had to stop their sale of wines and spirits, and the hotels allowed to carry on only under strict regulations, while these clubs could carry on with hardly any regulations or supervision at all," argued the Rev Mr Robertson.

However, Bailie Green maintained that the town was not yet "dry". "The members of these clubs are gentlemen as far as I know. I see no reason why their liberty and freedom should be interfered with by this corporation."

However, Bailie Green's view found little support and the motion to object was carried.

Tug-of-war over former school

From the Groat of January 14, 1972

A row had broken out in Auckengill over the use of the former village school.

For the previous 10 years the building had been loaned, rent free, to Alastair Sutherland for storage of a collection of art productions of Caithness interest. During that time he had opened up the building for exhibitions, which had been considered a "strong attraction to tourists", although such an exhibition had not taken place for at least two or three years.

Now the Auckengill hall committee wanted use of part of the school for temporary storage while major repair work was carried out on the village hall.

A solution had been sought with the proposal that the artworks remain but a segregated area be made available to store the hall items, and county clerk Mr R H Stevenson understood that this was to happen. However, it had not and now councillors were being asked to make a decision.

John O'Groats councillor Malcolm Green maintained it was "a case of Alastair Sutherland versus the people of Auckengill".

Councillors agreed that the community should come before the individual and that pressure should be put on Mr Sutherland to get his collection out "reasonable quickly".

Nirex move 'extremely unlikely'

From the Groat of January 17, 1997

Dounreay director Roy Nelson had poured cold water on speculation that the far north could again become the focus of the bid to establish a nationwide nuclear dump.

While local protesters vowed to step up their campaign to ward off any prospect of the development coming to the area, Mr Nelson, who until recently had been the UK Atomic Energy Authority representative on the Nirex board, claimed the speculation was "misconceived".

Concerns arose following the leaking of an internal assessment of the suitability of the preferred site at Sellafield. Nirex had considered Dounreay as the reserve option.

Mr Nelson believed that both sites were so close in geology that ruling out one would rule out the other. He said Nirex was "in the process of investigating where the best site might be, and I think it would be extremely unlikely that if they failed at Sellafield they would ever contemplate coming to Dounreay".

Elsewhere, a delay in the publication of local accommodation guides was being blamed for a dearth of post-Christmas enquiries from tourists. Local accommodation providers hit out at the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board amid fears that potential visitors would go elsewhere if they had not the information they needed to make bookings in the far north.


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