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

By Ali Morrison

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This is believed to be a group of Wick Choral Society members, probably from the late 1950s. The conductor was Mrs Kinghorn (front row, centre).
This is believed to be a group of Wick Choral Society members, probably from the late 1950s. The conductor was Mrs Kinghorn (front row, centre).

Sir Archibald mooted as MP

From the Groat of March 17, 1922

A "requisition" had been got up and was being signed locally asking Sir Archibald Sinclair of Ulbster to come forward as a Coalition Liberal candidate for Caithness and Sutherland. It was expected that Sir RL Harmsworth was to retire, although no announcement of such had yet been made.

A Groat comment piece stated that the requisition was being signed largely in Thurso and neighbourhood and it was "well known" that it had "emanated from a certain coterie in Thurso – long known as a hot-bed of intrigue".

It was noted that Sir Archibald's political opinions were "a matter of conjecture", although "it might not unreasonably be surmised that in respect of political sympathies he is probably an understudy of Mr Winston Churchill".

The writer warned that while Sir Archibald was undoubtedly a "fit and proper person" to hold such office, the selection of a candidate for Caithness and Sutherland should follow "the customary line of procedure" as "too long has this constituency been a by-word for scheming and self-seeking in political affairs. If this is to be terminated – and it is high time – let everything be done in such a manner that no section can reasonably feel aggrieved."

Council salute to ship

From the Groat of March 17, 1972

On behalf of Thurso Town Council, Police Judge Lord Thurso had attended a ceremony in Grangemouth to present a Thurso burgh plaque to the master of a new cargo liner named Thurso. She was the third vessel of the Ellerman Wilson Line to bear the name.

The presentation took place at the end of the ship's maiden voyage from Norway, where she had been built.

The previous vessel to bear the name had been torpedoed off the Azores in June 1942 while sailing in a convoy.

Elsewhere, Thrift Shop Week held in premises in High Street, Wick, loaned by Albert Cardosi, had closed with substantial takings amounting to £935, easily surpassing the previous year's total.

Organised by Wick members of the Caithness committee of the Save the Children Fund, the thrift shop "commands wide, generous support throughout the county in gifts of all kinds for selling in the shop and in the patronage of the shop itself".

In Helmsdale, meanwhile, a coin-operated 50p self-service petrol pump had been installed by Rapson and Sons. This "boon for motorists" would operate on a self-service basis after 6pm and all day on Sunday. At other times it would be worked manually.

Left behind on Euro funding

From the Groat of March 21, 1997

Caithness was continuing to fare badly in the distribution of European Objective 1 funding. The county had received just £1.5 million out of £53.4 million released across the Highlands by the end of January under the European Regional Development Fund.

The figure appeared to justify the concern that had been expressed by civic leaders over the previous months about the county's low take-up of money.

In a report, Highland Council senior official Howard Brindley warned that both Caithness and Nairn, which had received just £400,000, had been left behind. He said that "Caithness and Nairn are still significantly below what they should expect to receive as their geographic share of the programme".

Elsewhere, a new cargo service was to be launched between the Faroe Islands and Scrabster following a change of operator on the UK route.

Faroe Line was to discontinue the existing service between Aberdeen and Thorshavn in favour of the Caithness port.

The move was hailed as "good news for the port and the local contractors", and it was expected that Scrabster would be handling up to 150 containers a week.

However, the future of passenger services between the UK and the Faroe Islands remained unclear after the ferry Smyril was withdrawn for use on an inter-island route with no replacement international vessel available.

Another Looking Back from March.

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